Board tables Helton's contract

by Bobby Summers

Daily Cougar Senior Staff

Houston Cougars head football coach Kim Helton will have to wait until at least Feb. 15 for approval of a two-year extension of his contract.

The University of Houston System Board of Regents voted unanimously Wednesday to table approval of Helton's contract extension until lawyers for the university and for Helton can work out the wording of a contract clause covering "market-generated income."

Market-generated income was defined in Helton's original contract as "athletically related income from sources outside the university."

Beth Morian, the Board of Regents chairwoman, made the motion to table the contract extension "so that the attorneys can redefine some of the wording of the contract (extension)."

"There were some parts of it that were unclear to us. It didn't say quite what we had understood it to say," Morian said. "So, we're asking for a clarification."

Morian said the board will likely approve the contract this month after the wording is clarified.

"Everything else is going to go forward," she said. "Kim's our man and we wish him good luck in his recruiting."

Morian also said the board was in agreement that the reasoning for granting a contract extension was valid.

A clause in Helton's original contract provided for a contract extension if the school was penalized by the NCAA for violations committed during the tenure of former Cougars head coach John Jenkins.

The university and the NCAA agreed in November 1993 to put the football program on a two-year self-imposed probation, including several scholarship and practice penalties.

Recently appointed System Counsel Jim Crother said it was premature for him to comment on the contract at this time because he was not part of its negotiations.

"Apparently there was a meeting of the minds between the two parties," Crother said. "Now, there's some question whether the (contract) language properly reflects their agreement."

UH interim President Glenn Goerke agreed with Morian that the general terms of Helton's contract extension will not change.

"I think that somewhere in the lawyers' bouncing back and forth, the definition of terms are not as sharp as they should be," Goerke said.

The problem is in determining exactly how much Helton will receive from money that comes into the university from the football program's market-generated income, Goerke said.

In Helton's original contract, he was guaranteed a yearly base salary of $149,200. On top of that money, he was also guaranteed $120,000 each year for "athletically related income and benefits from sources outside the university."

For the first two years of the original contract, `93-'94 and `94-'95, any market-generated income which exceeded $120,000 was retained by the university.

However, beginning in the third year of the contract, the `95-'96 season, Helton was allowed to keep all market-generated income in excess of $120,000.

According to figures supplied by the Athletics Department, Helton's market-generated income totaled $97,501 during the `95-'96 season.

This figure is $22,498 less than the $120,000 Helton was guaranteed. As a result, the university paid the difference.

But, under terms of the proposed contract extension, Helton would receive the net market-generated income, instead of the gross.

Goerke said the university wants to put a ceiling on the money Helton can earn from market-generated income in the future.

"We are trying to freeze (Helton's part ) so that we're not in a position where beyond ($120,000) he gets everything and we don't get anything," Goerke said.

He also said that under the terms of Helton's original contract, if the team had a very successful season, Helton could possibly earn considerably more from market-generated income.

"If he got a Nike (endorsement) contract for $500,000 or $600,000, that (money) went to him," Goerke said. "No more. That needs to be closed out. Not that you want to be punitive. I would love him to go 10-1 and have people climbing all over us, in terms of outside-generated income. But we can't be in a position where they win and we lose."

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