South Carolina’s first payment to Chattanooga for buying out Lamont Paris’ contract there is due this week, according to emails obtained through an open records request by The State.
USC hired the former Mocs coach in March to replace 10-year head coach Frank Martin, who was fired after the Gamecocks failed to reached the postseason. Paris, 47, signed a five-year, $12 million contract. The terms of that contract included language that USC will pay Paris’ Chattanooga buyout for a price “not to exceed the sum of $450,000.”
That price is exactly $450,000 — split into two payments of $225,000 — according to an email sent by athletic director Ray Tanner to USC board of trustees members March 23. The first payment is due June 30, while the second payment will be due in the next fiscal year.
In the email, Tanner noted that the payout is standard practice in the industry and for South Carolina, writing that the university paid Kansas State $1 million when it hired Martin and paid Temple $600,000 when the school hired Dawn Staley to coach the women’s basketball team.
Paris’ $450,000 buyout is near the lower end of the spectrum, according to Tanner.
“The range that I dealt with in this search was from $400k up to $1.2 Million,” Tanner wrote in his email to the board.
The Gamecocks hired Paris among a bevy of reported candidates that included Xavier’s Sean Miller, Missouri’s Dennis Gates and LSU’s Matt McMahon, among others.
Paris’ five-year tenure at Chattanooga was his first head coaching job after coaching as an assistant under Bo Ryan and Greg Gard at Wisconsin from 2010-17.