Former NFL agent weighs-in on Taggart contract agreement, buyout

Published: Nov. 5, 2019 at 12:08 AM EST
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By Katie Kaplan, WCTV Eyewitness News

November 4, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- Home game attendance for Florida State University football games has declined by roughly 20,000 since 2016, according to the University's official website. All of those empty seats also equal lost revenue.

During a news conference on Monday afternoon, FSU officials said factors such as ticket sales, enrollment, sponsorships and even concessions contributed to the decision to part ways with head coach Willie Taggart. He was hired in late 2017.

The parting of ways will not be cheap. Taggart's contract calls for a buy-out of 85-percent of his salary and after only 23 months on the job, he is looking at walking away more than $17 million dollars.

By all accounts, Taggart was a great guy, but for some reason, what he was doing did not show up on the field. Because of that, the university was forced to decide to either make a change or wait for a turn-around that might never come.

"It's a train wreck," said R. Timothy Jansen. "It really is a train wreck and the question is, do you fix it now or wait and see if it turns around, and FSU decided to fix it now."

Jansen is a prominent Tallahassee attorney who has represented several Florida State players. He said he was the "go-to-guy" for former head coach Jimbo Fisher.

"I got to be on the inside of FSU so I know the program well," he told WCTV reporter Katie Kaplan on Monday night.

He is also a former NFL agent who has handled several professional contracts for players in the industry with at least "12 or 13 in the NFL."

He looked over Taggart's contract with WCTV at his law offices where he pointed out some major accommodations the university made before the coach even landed in Tallahassee.

"It's astounding how much they paid," he said. "USF $1.3 million and Oregon $3 million, so they paid $4.3 million just to buy him out (of his previous contract)."

Those two values include Taggart's previous buy-outs, which FSU had to pay as part of the hiring contract. Two signatures that are located next to Taggart's on the contract include President John Thrasher and former Athletics Director Stan Wilcox.

"Stan Wilcox will have to answer those questions for the rest of his life, 'What did he do to Florida State University,'" Jansen said. "I think the contract was crazy for a coach that did not have that much-proven background as a head coach, but now they're paying for it."

The contract also includes other provisions like moving expenses, a car allowance, membership to an unnamed country club and the 85 percent buy-out. The buy-out will be made in monthly installments and off-set if Taggart accepts another job, Jansen said.

"If they owe him $5 million a year and he gets a job for $2 million a year, they'll only have to pay him $3 million," he said.

Wilcox abruptly left the University for a position with the NCAA in August of 2018. Meanwhile, the contract could have implications for the future.

"Right now, every coach out there who's coaching at a school wants the same kind of buy-out, same kind of deal that coach Taggart got," Jansen said.

He added that the contract terms give a lot of negotiating power to the next prospective head coach.

The move to fire Taggart could trickle down even further as Taggart was given $5 million for his coaching staff, many of whom have buy-outs as well. Their futures remain to be seen until a new coach is at the helm.

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