Ross Bjork details how Texas A&M will pay Jimbo Fisher's $77.6 million buyout

On3 imageby:On3 Staff Report11/12/23
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Texas A&M made the monumental decision to fire coach Jimbo Fisher prior to his sixth season running out, incurring a huge financial cost to the program to do so.

Fisher had a $77.6 million buyout that will be paid out over the course of the next eight years. Athletics director Ross Bjork broke down where the funding will come from at a news conference with reporters on Sunday.

“Texas A&M athletics and the 12th Man Foundation will be the sole sources of the necessary funds covering these transition costs,” Bjork said. “And there’s really two categories: We will use unrestricted contributions within the 12th Man Foundation for the first one-time payments and the athletic department will fund the annual payments for the remaining portion by growing our revenues and adjusting our annual operating budget accordingly.

“This will only involve athletics and 12th Man Foundation funds. Although this is a major, major financial decision that comes with many consequences, we have a plan and we will not let this impact the performance or the culture of our entire athletics program.”

Twenty-five percent of Fisher’s buyout is due up front within the next 60 days, so the Aggies will be pulling about $19.3 million from the 12th Man Foundation.

From there, the athletic department will cover the rest.

Bjork was asked if Texas A&M anticipates paying out the full value of Fisher’s buyout, and he didn’t provide a very direct answer.

“There’s different parameters that are outlined in the contract,” he said. “Again, those mechanics will be worked out as soon as we touch base with his representation.”

Bjork reassures Aggies fans funding for Jimbo Fisher buyout is there

Lest they be concerned about the quality of the program taking a hit thanks to such a huge financial burden being placed on it, Bjork did his best to reassure fans that the program can adapt.

“Look, we have the best fundraising organization in college athletics, the 12th Man Foundation,” he said. “And the board and Travis (Dabney), our CEO, they’re phenomenal. And it’s a collaborative working relationship while maintaining the independent structure of the 12th Man Foundation, so those things are all important, the collaboration and the independence. So there’s buckets that the 12th Man Foundation houses within their structure. Those are flexible funds that we had a conversation about and said those funds are to benefit athletics. I mean they raise money for championship athletics and our mission is championship athletics and opportunity. So sit down, you have those conversations. They have their discussions within their organization and so that’s the one-time funds.”

Once everyone was on board with how the Jimbo Fisher buyout would be funded, the decision to proceed ahead was a bit easier. Still, it might require some sacrifice in certain areas going forward.

Bjork hinted at tighter budgeting for the program as one way to make ends meet.

“The ongoing payments that are required in the contract, those will be athletic department funds,” Bjork said. “We grow revenue, we have new TV deals coming up, we have new sponsorship contracts, we’re repurposing a lot of our new revenue buckets. So we have a lot of new revenue coming our way too, but we also have to manage expenses.

“So there’s a lot of things even within the football budget that we’ve got flexibility on where we can still be at a high level but we can also spend a lot less, as well, but we can be a championship-funded program. We can adjust all that. It’s all going to be fluid. And here’s the thing too about the funding. When we sit here in three years from now, what’s the collegiate model anyway? What are we doing with the financial arrangement between the athlete and the institution? So the whole model’s going to be evolving and changing. The same thing with our revenue and expense model. The same thing will happen. We’ve got a plan, we’re going to adjust and we’ll make this work.”