Bill Snyder says he did offer Jim Leavitt a position on his staff at Kansas State, but it wasn’t to be his head coach-in-waiting.
Longtime college football reporter Brett McMurphy reported last week that there was a plan in place at Kansas State for Leavitt to be the head coach-in-waiting as a member of Snyder’s staff in 2017 before succeeding the 78-year-old Snyder in 2018. However, McMurphy reported Snyder did not sign off on the arrangement because he wants his son Sean, the team’s associate head coach and special teams coordinator, to be the next Wildcats’ head coach.
On Monday, Snyder said on the Big 12 teleconference he offered Leavitt a position as an assistant (K-State’s linebackers coach left the staff in March), but Leavitt turned it down. Leavitt, a former K-State assistant under Snyder, spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as the defensive coordinator at Colorado before taking the DC job at Oregon under Willie Taggart.
Snyder volunteered the detail when asked about McMurphy’s report.
Q: After the game I know you got asked about the report about coach Leavitt, possibly a coach in waiting for you guys, which would have been this year. Have you seen the report and what are your thoughts about that? Was it true that Coach Leavitt was offered a position with you guys last year?
Bill Snyder: We had a vacancy on our staff and I had offered him the opportunity to come, the rest of it I think is something that I’m not totally aware of. Probably the administration would be better served to answer that. I appreciate him a great deal. He’s always been a close friend. I would loved to have had him here as a position coach. I didn’t have a coordinator spot for him, I couldn’t offer him that.
That’s a different tone than what Snyder said after Saturday’s game:
“I don’t know … I don’t know who Brett McMurphy is.”
“I’ve heard that there’s an article out there,” Snyder said. “I don’t know who wrote it or what it said.”
Reading between the lines, it’s pretty clear there is some trepidation, and potentially some infighting in the athletic department, about the impending conclusion of Snyder’s tenure — both when it may be and who will follow him. One thing is for sure: Snyder, who is in his 26th season at KSU, will have a say in the matter. His contract says so.
Snyder’s K-State contract stipulates when he’s done coaching at KSU he will be a “special assistant to the athletic director” and “shall also have appropriate input … regarding the selection of the next head football coach.”
For the record, Kansas State issued this short statement hours after McMurphy’s report emerged:
“As has been the case and stated many times, Coach Snyder is our football coach and will remain coach until he decides otherwise.”
In the case of Leavitt, he was an assistant at K-State under Snyder from 1990-1995 before he became the head coach at USF from 1996-2009. When Snyder retired in 2005 (only to return in 2009), Leavitt was linked to the opening that ultimately went to Ron Prince.
Leavitt’s time at USF ended when he was fired in January 2010 after being accused of mistreating a player and then lying to school officials about it. Leavitt has long denied the allegations and subsequently sued the university, reaching a settlement in January 2011. After he and USF parted ways, Leavitt spent four seasons as an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers before returning to the college game at Colorado in 2015.
After two seasons with the Buffs, he accepted a lucrative deal to be the defensive coordinator at Oregon.
His contract at Oregon has a very specific clause relative to Kansas State:
Leavitt’s four-year deal pays him $1.15 million annually and has a pretty standard buyout clause. Per The Oregonian, if he’s fired without cause the school owes Leavitt his full salary. If he leaves his position before Jan. 31, 2018, he would owe the school $500,000. If he leaves after Jan. 31, 2018 but before Jan. 31, 2020, he’d owe $250,000.
However, if he opts to “voluntarily terminate this agreement to become the head football coach at Kansas State University,” Leavitt wouldn’t owe the school a cent.
Meanwhile, Snyder’s Wildcats upset No. 13 Oklahoma State over the weekend to clinch a bowl berth and improve to 6-5 on the year. The team finishes out the regular season on Saturday against Iowa State.
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