A look at Jerome Tang’s contract reminds how much K-State basketball has overachieved

Charlie Riedel/AP

Much has been made about the fact that Kansas State was picked to finish last in the Big 12 this basketball season. Little has been said about Jerome Tang’s contract including a $10,000 bonus for leading the Wildcats to the NIT.

That goes to show how few people expected K-State to be a quality basketball team with Tang taking over as a first-year head coach. It also illustrates just how much the Wildcats have overachieved this year.

Now that K-State (17-3, 6-2 Big 12) is ranked fifth nationally and tied for first place in the conference standings, it is somewhat comical to look over Tang’s contract and see lucrative bonuses for mediocre achievements such as earning a “postseason NIT bid” or finishing with a “greater than .500 conference record.”

It made sense when Tang signed his contract last May and the Wildcats were coming off three straight losing seasons. Now, such things are taken for granted in the Little Apple.

Tang has won so many games that he is now in the mix for some of the best performance-based bonuses that were written into his contract, such as being named Big 12 Coach of the Year or winning a national championship.

Here is a full rundown of his bonuses, with K-State paying him for only the highest goal achieved:

  • Postseason NIT bid or greater than .500 Big 12 record: $10,000

  • Reach NIT Final Four: $10,000

  • Win NIT championship: $15,000

  • Top 25 ranking in final AP or USA Today poll: $15,000

  • NCAA Tournament bid: $25,000

  • Reach NCAA Round of 32: $37,500

  • Reach Sweet 16: $50,000

  • Win Big 12 championship (regular season or tournament): $50,000

  • Reach Elite Eight: $100,000

  • Reach Final Four: $200,000

  • National championship: $600,000

Tang can also collect extra bonuses for being named Big 12 Coach of the Year ($25,000) or National Coach of the Year ($50,000).

The Eagle asked for copies of Tang’s contract, plus his assistants, several times before the season began via open records requests, but it took longer than expected for all of those deals to be finalized. Copies of those contracts were obtained earlier this month.

Another number that seems pertinent these days: Tang’s buyout.

Several national college basketball reporters have suggested that Tang could be a candidate for major job openings such as Texas at the end of this season.

Tang has said those rumors aren’t worthy of a response from him and he seems happy in Manhattan. Still, some have wondered how much would it cost another school to lure Tang away. The answer: $5 million through April 30.

K-State athletic director Gene Taylor wisely started off with a high number. Tang’s buyout drops $1 million per year until 2027.

Should the Wildcats look to terminate Tang for any reason without case the school would owe him $7.35 million before April 30, 2024, $5 million the following year, $2.55 million the year after that and then $1 million in 2027.

The Wildcats signed Tang to a six-year contract that runs through the 2028 season. His starting salary was $2.1 million, but it is scheduled to increase by $100,000 each year until it maxes out at $2.6 million.

If K-State remains on its current trajectory, odds are good that Tang will receive a new contract and a substantial raise before he coaches his first game in Year 2. Should that happen, there will be no need for a NIT bonus moving forward.

K-State Basketball Coaching Salaries

Jerome Tang: $2.1 million.

Ulric Maligi: $400,000.

Jareem Dowling: $250,000.

Rodney Perry: $200,000.