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Jeff Choate's contract with Montana State Bobcats includes $250,000 buyout

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Posted at 2:36 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 16:54:48-05

BOZEMAN -- As part of a new contract Montana State head football coach Jeff Choate signed with the university last year, he would have to pay the university $250,000 if he terminates the agreement with more than 12 months remaining on the contract. The contract is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2024.

MTN Sports received a copy of Choate's contract, which he signed on March 20, 2020. The contract was also signed by MSU director of athletics Leon Costello and MSU president Waded Cruzado.

The contract, which took effect on Feb. 1, 2020, paid Choate an annual base salary of $206,311. Choate would annually earn an additional $80,000 for participating in coaches shows and $30,000 for participating in fundraisers organized by Montana State.

Numerous other performance incentives are also included in the contract. Choate would receive $15,000 if the Bobcats play an NCAA Bowl Championship team and another $10,000 if they defeat a Bowl Championship team. He would earn $12,500 if the Bobcats finish as the Big Sky Conference regular-season champion and varying amounts depending on how far they advance in the FCS Playoffs. Choate would receive a $50,000 bonus if wins a national championship with the Bobcats.

Annual performance incentives

ChoateAssistant coaches (each)
Compensation for playing an NCAA Bowl Championship team$15,000$500
Compensation for beating an NCAA Bowl Championship team$10,000 $500
Maintain or increase season attendance$5,000
Recognized by Big Sky Conference as coach or co-coach of the year$10,000$500
Recognized as regional or national coach or co-coach of the year$10,000
Finish regular season as conference champion or co-conference champion$12,500$1,000
Defeat an NCAA FCS team during non-conference season that has been a qualifier for the FCS playoffs the previous year$5,000
Achieve eight wins, including regular season and postseason$7,500
Achieve nine wins, including regular season and postseason$7,500
Achieve 10 or more wins, including regular season and postseason$7,500
Qualify for the FCS Playoffs$7,500$500
Advance to second round of FCS Playoffs$7,500
Advance to quarterfinal round of FCS Playoffs$10,000$500
Advance to semifinal round of FCS Playoffs$10,000$500
Advance to national championship game of FCS Playoffs$15,000$500
Win national championship game of FCS Playoffs$50,000$2,000

The contract also includes academic incentives. If the team finishes a semester with an average grade-point average of 2.7 or better, Choate would receive a $5,000 bonus. He can also earn bonuses based on the Bobcats' NCAA academic progress report and/or graduation rate.

Annual academic incentives

ChoateAssistant coaches (each)
Each semester football has an average team grade-point average of 2.7 or higher$5,000$500
Each semester football has an average team grade-point average of 2.85 or higher$5,000$500
Each semester football has an average team grade-point average of 3.0 or higher$5,000$500
Each academic year football has an average team grade-point average of 2.7 or higher$5,000$500
Each academic year football has an average team grade-point average of 2.85 or higher$5,000$500
Each academic year football has an average team grade-point average of 3.0 or higher$5,000$500
Each year football earns an NCAA academic progress rate score of 985$10,000
Each year the MSU athletic department earns an NCAA academic progress rate of 985$5,000$500
Each year the football team attains a graduation success rate of 70-79 percent$7,500
Each year the football team attains a graduation success rate of 80-89 percent$5,000
Each year the football team attains a graduation success rate of 90-99 percent$5,000
Each year the football team attains a graduation success rate of 100 percent$5,000

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Bobcats have yet to play a game under Choate's new contract. The Big Sky Conference postponed the fall football season and is scheduled to begin its spring schedule on Feb. 27. The Bobcats would open their six-game conference schedule at UC Davis.

Choate, though, might not be MSU's coach if and when the spring season kicks off. He's reportedly a top candidate for the vacant head coaching position at Boise State, where he was previously on the staff from 2006-11. While with the Broncos, Choate coached the running backs, linebackers and special teams units.

He was hired as the head coach at Montana State in late 2015 and has a 28-22 overall record over four seasons. The team has improved its record each season under his watch, advancing to the FCS Playoffs each of the past two years. Montana State finished the 2019 season with an 11-4 overall record. The Bobcats advanced to the FCS semifinals for the first time since 1984, ending their season with a 42-14 loss to eventual national champion North Dakota State.