Report: Lincoln Riley would owe OU millions if he chose to leave for NFL job

NORMAN, Okla. – It’s no secret that University of Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley is a rising superstar on the coaching scene.

Riley’s last two seasons as OU’s head coach have led to two Big 12 Championships, two College Football Playoff berths and two Heisman Trophy winners.

In January, the OU Board of Regents approved Riley’s contract extension, which keeps him as the Sooners’ head coach through the 2023 season.

“We’re obviously appreciative of what’s already been accomplished in such a short time, but strengthening our relationship with Lincoln is also important as we collectively focus on the larger goals of our program,” said OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione. “He has proven to be one of the most innovative minds in the game today as well as a very successful leader for his student-athletes. His remarkable ascent as one of the most outstanding football coaches in America is grounded in creating the right environment for developing the best growth opportunities for all of his players. The incredible level of achievement and energy around our program all point to a very bright future under his leadership.”

Under the terms of the contract, Riley will be paid the following:

  • $6 million in 2019
  • $6.15 million in 2020
  • $7.3 million in 2021
  • $6.45 million in 2022
  • $6.6 million in 2023.

If one of his teams wins a national championship, he could earn a $400,000 bonus.

The Tulsa World was able to obtain a copy of Riley’s contract, which apparently also lays out what would happen if Riley chose to leave OU for an NFL coaching job.

Last season, rumors circulated that Riley was on the radar of several NFL teams who were hunting for a new coach.

Riley attempted to put those rumors to rest.

“Not right now. You know, you sit there and answer these questions, and I always want to be truthful. The truth is for me is I love Oklahoma. I love coaching here, I love college football. I certainly don’t have that itch right now. I don’t know that I ever will, but I’m never gonna be a guy that’s gonna stand up here and say, ‘No way, no how will any of these things ever happen.’ I don’t know that but I know right now I could care less about the NFL. We’re trying to win this game and trying to make a run that we all think we have in us right now,” Riley said.

According to the Tulsa World, the contract states that Riley would be responsible to pay OU about $4.6 million if he decided to leave after the 2019 season for another football job. The amount drops by about $1 million each year, and the total amount will be waived in March of 2022.

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