University of Oregon committee approves nearly $30 million contract for new head football coach

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Dec. 15, 2021 1:14 a.m.

Dan Lanning’s $29.1 million contract spans six years, making him the conference’s fifth highest paid coach

A University of Oregon committee Tuesday approved a $29.1 million contract for the new Ducks head football coach.

The UO Board of Trustees’ Executive and Audit Committee convened Tuesday to approve incoming coach Dan Lanning’s six-year contract.


The near $30 million dollar agreement does not include potential bonuses, such as an additional $500,000 for participating in a College Football Playoff national championship game.

Coach Dan Lanning press conference at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., Dec. 13, 2021.

Coach Dan Lanning press conference at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., Dec. 13, 2021.

Eric Evans Photography / via University of Oregon


In comparison, UO’s last head football coach, Mario Cristobal, had a contract worth more than $27 million after receiving a contract extension. Cristobal announced last week that he was leaving UO to return to his alma mater, the University of Miami.

UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens said during the board committee meeting Tuesday that Cristobal paid $9 million to get out of his contract early. Lanning’s buyout fee is significantly more than what Cristobal’s was — $14 million — if he leaves UO before the end of 2023.

“Coach [Lanning] was really committed, and we included that level of commitment in the coach terminating provisions,” Mullens said. “The $14 million in the first year is a strong statement of his commitment.”

UO officially introduced Lanning, 35, as its new head coach on Monday, when Lanning said the coaching job in Oregon could be the “final step” in his career. It is his first collegiate head coaching job, though he has been an assistant on several coaching staffs, most recently as defensive coordinator for the University of Georgia. He’s also worked for the University of Alabama, Arizona State University and the University of Pittsburgh.

According to board documents, Lanning’s first year salary — $4.6 million — is ranked the fifth highest out of coaches in the PAC-12 and 27th nationally. In comparison, Oregon State’s head coach, Jonathan Smith, makes $3.75 million annually.

Lanning’s contract also includes fringe benefits such as a $100,000 moving stipend and up to 90 days of temporary housing.