Texas A&M fires football coach Jimbo Fisher, triggering record $77 million buyout

Texas A&M on Sunday fired football coach Jimbo Fisher, triggering a contract buyout of more than $77 million, the largest in college football history.

After reports of the firing trickled in on social media throughout the morning, indicating the decision was made after a four-hour Texas A&M board of regents meeting Thursday, athletic director Ross Bjork released a statement.

"After very careful analysis of all the components related to Texas A&M football, I recommended to President (Mark A.) Welsh and then Chancellor (John) Sharp that a change in the leadership of the program was necessary in order for Aggie football to reach our full potential and they accepted my decision," Bjork wrote. "We appreciate Coach Fisher's time here at Texas A&M and we wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Welsh also released a statement, saying that the decision "is the result of a thorough evaluation of the football program's performance and what's in the best interest of the overall program and Texas A&M University."

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Welsh added that Bjork has his "full support" as he begins a national search for a new head coach.

Fisher went to College Station with great fanfare seven years ago after a stellar tenure at Florida State that included a BCS national championship in 2013. He led the Aggies to a 9-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory in 2020, earning him a fully guaranteed $94 million extension through the 2031 season.

However, his teams have underachieved the past three seasons – with last year's 5-7 mark his first losing record as a college head coach.

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher relays instructions to his players during Saturday's 51-10 victory over Mississippi State in Lubbock.
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher relays instructions to his players during Saturday's 51-10 victory over Mississippi State in Lubbock.

This year, the Aggies are 6-4, but have lost all three of their games against ranked opponents.

Biggest buyout for a football coach in history

Before Fisher, the highest buyout from a public school was Gus Malzahn at Auburn, which was on the hook to buy out Malzahn for $21 million after firing him in late 2020. Half of that was due to him within 30 days of his termination, with the rest due in installments over four years. The contract didn’t even require him to offset that amount with future pay at a new job.

Fisher will be owed $77,562,500, according to USA TODAY Sports' college football coaches salary database. Twenty-five percent of the total buyout is due to Fisher in a lump sum within 60 days of his termination. The remaining balance must then be paid in equal annual payments beginning 120 days after the date of termination, and continuing through the end of the contract (Dec. 31, 2031).

Despite the enormous amount Fisher is owed, there appears to be no shortage of cash at Texas A&M's disposal to buy him out. The university's  fundraising arm, the 12th Man Foundation, reported $239.5 million in net assets on its federal tax forms for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022. Of the total assets, $112.2 million was reported as being endowment funds. The foundation reported $135.2 million in contributions for the fiscal year.

Bjork said at a press conference Sunday evening that the buyout to Fisher would be paid from both the 12th Man Foundation and the school's athletics department. The 12th Man Foundation would be responsible for a first payment worth 25% of the buyout figure. The annual installments would then be covered by the athletics department.

"Although this is a major, major financial decision that comes with many consequences, we have a plan," Bjork said. "We will not let this impact the performance or the culture of our entire athletics program. Every sport and every department matters.”

Fisher compiled a record of 83-23 in eight seasons at Florida State. Overall, his teams have a mark of 128-48 (.727).

Contributing: Tom Schad, Steve Berkowitz

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas A&M fires Jimbo Fisher as football coach with record buyout