Moments after he learned his team’s bowl game against UCLA had been canceled, N.C. State coach Dave Doeren expressed his disappointment in a succinct Twitter post Tuesday afternoon: “Heartbroken for our players, staff, and seniors,” he wrote. “This is a 10 win team and staff.”
The cancellation of the Holiday Bowl, due to UCLA’s COVID-19-related problems, is costly for Doeren and the Wolfpack in more ways than one. In an instant, and hours before the game was scheduled to start, N.C. State lost the opportunity to win a 10th game for the second time in school history. And Doeren and his coaching staff, meanwhile, may have lost $150,000.
According to his contract with N.C. State, Doeren, in his ninth season as the Wolfpack’s head coach, would have received a bonus of $150,000 for leading the team to a 10-win season. State finished the regular season 9-3, which already earned Doeren a bonus of $100,000 (his victories-based bonus starts at eight wins, and $50,000, and increases by $50,000 with each win).
In addition to Doeren’s individual bonus, a 10th win would have meant an additional $100,000 for his assistant coaches. Their salary pool increased by $300,000 for winning nine games, and a 10th victory would have pushed the collective bonus to $400,000.
Boo Corrigan, the N.C. State athletic director, didn’t offer a definitive answer when asked Tuesday how the bowl cancellation would affect coaching bonuses. Corrigan, along with Doeren, spoke with reporters in San Diego in the hours after the game was called off.
“We talk all the time about doing the most right thing,” Corrigan said. “And we’ll figure out what the most right thing is in this situation. How are you going to penalize them? …
“Everything we drive is off doing the most right thing. So we’ll sit down at some point and figure all that out.”
The question of Doeren’s bonuses, and those for his coaching staff, is but one of several N.C. State administrators must confront after the cancellation of the Holiday Bowl. Another is how to account for the cost of the trip. The Holiday Bowl payout was expected to be $3.2 million per team, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Like all bowl payouts for games involving ACC teams, that money would have gone to the conference, which annually divides the league’s bowl revenue among its members. It was unclear Tuesday what, if any, portion of the payout the Holiday Bowl might disperse amid the cancellation. Rick Schloss, the bowl’s spokesman, wrote in an email that he would “let everyone know” about the payout “when we know the procedures.”
Fred Demarest, an N.C. State senior associate athletic director who oversees the football program, wrote in a text message that the university was “trying to sort out a lot,” including the possibility of finding another opponent to replace UCLA. Demarest wrote that N.C. State wouldn’t know the full cost of its trip to San Diego until returning to Raleigh.
The Holiday Bowl is the fifth bowl game to be canceled because of COVID-19. Among the others to be called off is the Military Bowl, in which Boston College was scheduled to play against East Carolina. Boston College withdrew from the game after COVID-19 decimated the Eagles’ roster, and reportedly left them without an entire position group.
To help cover bowl-related expenses, including travel, ECU on Tuesday announced the creation of a “Military Bowl Fund,” the purpose of which is “to assist the athletics department with expenses incurred from the cancellation of the 2021 Military Bowl.” Bill Clark Homes, a Greenville-based home building company, donated $200,000 to kick start the fundraiser.
Columnist Luke DeCock contributed to this report.