KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – After Tennessee enjoyed its best season in more than two decades, soccer coach Josh Heupel has been rewarded with a contract extension that will bring him $9 million a year.
The $4 million raise will rank Heupel fifth among SEC head soccer coaches. The only four higher are Alabama’s Nick Saban, Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and LSU’s Brian Kelly. Heupel’s original contract earned him $4 million annually, and last year it was increased to $5 million.
According to details of Heupel’s new contract released by the university, his buyout would be 100% of what he would be owed if he was terminated without cause before December 15, 2025. The buyout would decrease to 75 percent if it occurred between December 15, 2025 and December 14, 2027. The buyout would decrease to 50 percent on December 15, 2027.
Heupel’s bonus package has also been increased. He would make $100,000 for a bowl game and up to $1 million for winning the national championship. Other incentives include $50,000 for a top 25 finish, $100,000 for a top 10 finish, and $150,000 for a top 5 finish, as well as extra money for playing in the SEC championship game, the Winning Coach of the Year and achieving certain academic goals for his team’s progression rates. Heupel will also see increased use of private jets.
If Heupel left Tennessee, he would owe the school $8 million by December 15. Its buyout decreases to $6 million by December 15, 2024, and decreases by $1 million each subsequent year. Heupel would owe Tennessee $2 million if he departs before December 15, 2028.
“The results in Josh’s first two years speak for themselves,” Tennessee athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “He and his staff have invigorated both our football program and our fan base with an aggressive brand of football, a competitive culture that breeds leaders and a relentless approach to raising the bar every day. Despite a brief hiatus, Tennessee has never relinquished its status as a college football powerhouse. We only needed an innovative leader like Josh Heupel to rekindle the spark.
“It was fun crashing the party but like Josh said after our Orange Bowl triumph [over Clemson]the best is yet to come.”
In two seasons in Tennessee, Heupel is 18-8. The Vols were 11-2 last season and 7-6 in his debut season. Prior to his arrival, Tennessee had suffered losses in three of the previous four years. Tennessee’s No. 6 finish in last season’s AP poll was its highest since 2001. That was after the Vols started the season unranked.
More importantly, Tennessee broke a 15-game losing streak against Alabama a year ago with a thrilling 52-49 win over the Crimson Tide that sparked a wild celebration at Neyland Stadium. The Vols also defeated Florida 38-33 at home, only their second win over the Gators in their last 18 games. For perspective, last season Tennessee was 4-38 against its three main rivals — Alabama, Florida and Georgia — dating back to Phillip Fulmer’s final season in 2008.
Heupel said in a statement: “Our employees take great pride in representing the Power T and that is something we never take for granted. We will continue to work tirelessly to build a championship program that all Vol Nation and all VFLs can be proud of.” Most importantly, our players are the people who deserve all the credit for our resurgence on Rocky Top.
The Vols broke 15 records in a season in 2022 and led the country for the first time in school history in offense (46.1 points), total offense (525.5 yards), passing efficiency (181.4), and total touchdowns (79) on. They defeated six national ranking teams, tying the 1998 national championship team for the most in program history.
Tennessee’s No. 1 finish in last season’s College Football Playoff rankings was the first in school history. The Vols hosted ESPN’s College GameDay twice last season and sold out six straight games at home. Their signing class for the 2023 season is ranked 15th nationally by ESPN, and they also brought in several highly regarded key transfers.