While MSU continues searching for its next football coach this week, former head coach Bobby Williams will be waiting for a big check to arrive.
Last Wednesday, MSU agreed to pay Williams $550,000, the amount he would have made through June 2003 plus the termination payment in his contract. Williams made $214,800 a year.
The university decided to pay Williams through June to stay consistent with the assistant coaches settlements, university spokesman Terry Denbow said. While Williams' rolling contract begins and ends in January each year, the assistants' contracts all end in June.
The money will come out of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics budget and won't affect any other part of the university.
"I feel this final settlement is reasonable and appropriate, and allows MSU and Bobby to move on from here," MSU Athletics Director Ron Mason said in a statement. "We wish Bobby and his family only the best because they have been friends and members of the Spartan family for a long time.
"As I have said, I respect Bobby as a person; he has been a colleague who takes with him our hopes for success in the years ahead."
Williams also expressed pleasure in the resolution.
"For me, this is a fair settlement that permits us all, personally and professionally, to be future-oriented with confidence," Williams said in written statement. "I am sure both the university and I share the pride in accomplishments during this tenure, with support from within the university, alumni and fans.
"I particularly thank the players who I hope will all grow through this experience and turn the lessons from the field into catalysts for prosperity."
MSU Trustees Dee Cook, Joel Ferguson, Dorothy Gonzales and David Porteous would not comment on Williams' settlement. The other four trustees could not be reached.
Mason fired Williams on Nov. 4, after the team opened the season with high expectations and a national ranking, then lost six of the first nine games, many in blowout fashion.
Several players also had disciplinary problems. Two captains finished the season on suspended status - junior quarterback Jeff Smoker because of a substance-abuse problem and senior tailback Dawan Moss because of a three-offense arrest.
Denbow said the assistants will all receive pay through June, but wasn't sure whether that would hold true if they accepted new jobs. If the new head coach keeps any of the assistants, their contracts will be renegotiated.
Mason is staying mum on who he's looking at to interview for the head coaching job. Speculation has named coaches ranging from professionals such as Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis and San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci to college coaches such as Bowling Green head coach Urban Meyer, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon.
Offensive coordinator Morris Watts was interim head coach for the final three games and closed the season with a 1-2 record. He is not expected to stay with the MSU program.
Krista Latham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.