BOONE — Appalachian State University announced on March 26 that Mountaineers men’s basketball head coach Dustin Kerns had signed a contract extension, keeping him at the program through the 2025-26 season. At the time, no further contract details were included in the announcement, however, the contract has since been made public.
Kerns’ extension comes on the heels of the most successful season for the Mountaineers in recent memory, where the team secured a Sun Belt Tournament championship and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 21 years.
According to the extension, the second-year App head coach will receive a raise from $300,000 to $325,000-per-year in annual salary. Kerns’ original pay was already an increase from the $259,584 predecessor Jim Fox would have made in the 2019-20 season had he not been fired.
The extension makes Kerns the second-highest paid head coach at Appalachian in terms of base salary, behind Football Head Coach Shawn Clark’s $425,000 per-year and ahead of Women’s Basketball Head Coach Angel Elderkin’s salary of $195,000. Clark has two seasons under his belt as head coach of the Mountaineers, while Elderkin has been running the women’s basketball program since 2014.
Kerns has also been given access to $270,000 for three assistant coaching positions and $45,000 for a director of basketball operations position. This was a $30,000 increase for the assistant coaching positions and a $5,000 decrease for the director of basketball operations position compared to his initial contract.
The extension features a variety of incentives and potential bonuses over its five-year lifespan.
Dubbed “personality rights,” an agreement in the contract compensates Kerns for App State utilizing his name, likeness, image and other properties for promotion and merchandising. The personality rights agreement begins with $15,000 for the 2021-22 contract year and scales to $75,000 for the 2025-26 year, totaling $225,000 if all five years are paid out.
A retention bonus of $25,000 will be paid on April 5 of every year if Kerns is still with the team beginning in 2022, potentially reaching $125,000.
Kerns also has access to either a courtesy car or a monthly stipend of $500 in lieu of mileage or rental car expenses.
Performance bonuses include $10,000 if the team’s single-year academic progress rate is greater than or equal to 950, of $15,000 if it is 985. A team’s APR is a measure of student-athletes’ chances and rates of graduation, according to the National College Athletic Association, with a perfect score being 1,000.
The most recent year available from the NCAA, the 2018-19 academic year, saw the Mountaineers men’s basketball tied for second among their equivalents in North Carolina with an APR of 990, behind only Elon.
According to the extension, only one of the two bonuses can be earned, which means if the team’s APR were 986, Kerns would only receive the bonus for hitting 985.
Each semester that the team’s aggregate grade point average is above 3.0, as determined by the Director of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, Kerns will receive a bonus of $5,000. Kerns would receive a $2,500 bonus if the GPA is above 2.7, but below 3.0.
If Kerns were to be named Conference Coach of the Year or National Coach of the Year, he will receive a $5,000 bonus
Team success bonuses include:
$1,000 for participating in the
- Postseason Tournament.
- $2,500 for winning a game in the National Invitation Tournament.
- $5,000 for participating in the National Invitation Tournament.
- $10,000 for an NCAA Tournament at-large selection.
- $10,000 for making it to the NCAA Tournament second round.
- $10,000 for making it to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.
- $10,000 for making it to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
- $15,000 for winning a Sun Belt Conference regular season championship.
- $20,000 for winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
- $20,000 for making it to the NCAA Tournament Final Four.
- $25,000 for making it to the NCAA Championship game.
- $50,000 for winning an NCAA Title.
While most of the team success bonuses are the same as they were in the initial contract, the bonuses for winning a Sun Belt Conference regular season championship and Sun Belt Conference Tournament have been increased by $5,000 and $10,000, respectively, in the extension.
If the team were to go on a run, win the Sun Belt regular season and tournament championships before winning an NCAA Tournament final, the bonuses would add up to $180,000.
Ticket sales also factor into Kerns’ extension, with a $5,000 bonus being on the table if ticket sales for all home games are an increase of 15 percent from the previous year.
Kerns could receive $616,000 in an individual season if all conditions are met.
The extension also features amounts to be paid to or by Kerns depending on if he is terminated without cause or takes a position elsewhere. If Kerns is terminated “without cause” as defined by the extension, the school will pay him $750,000 if he is notified before April 1, 2023, $350,000 if he is notified between April 1, 2023 and March 31, 2025 or $200,000 if he is notified between April 1, 2025 and March 31, 2026.
In his initial contract, Kerns was owed at most $300,000 due to termination without cause.
At the same time, if Kerns notifies the school he has accepted employment elsewhere, the extension states he is to pay the university in damages. The amounts and sates of notification are the same as the termination without cause.
At most, the extension could see Kerns net $3,080,000 if all conditions were met at the highest possible value over the full life of the extension.