Louisiana Tech signs assistant coaches to contracts
One giant leap for staff stability.
Continuity among the football assistant coaches has been one of the biggest things Skip Holtz has struggled with since taking over Louisiana Tech.
From his first season in Ruston in 2013 to this past offseason, 21 on-field assistants have decided to leave Tech, as Holtz has averaged needing to replace three assistants each year.
The number that’s been more troubling — and has begun to grow more rapidly of late — has been coaches working at Louisiana Tech for less than 12 months. Overall during Holtz’s tenure, seven coaches have moved on after only one season, two of those coming as recently as off the 2019 staff with former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and outside receiver coach Kenny Guiton departing for the same positions at Purdue and Colorado State, respectively.
But during Friday afternoon’s University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors meeting that was reconvened from Thursday, Louisiana Tech athletic department had contracts for the football program’s assistant coaches approved, a big step in providing Holtz not only a chance for stability but perhaps more importantly, some assurance from the financial standpoint from the department’s perspective.
Nine of Tech’s 10 on-field assistant football coaches signed one-year deals, worth varying amounts, that went into effect March 1 and run out Feb. 28, 2021. This is the first time in the department’s history football assistants will be under contract. The athletic department, in partnership with the Louisiana Tech University, had agreed to use “best efforts to draft and approve contracts for assistants under Holtz’s previous deal.
Previously, assistants were considered “at-will employees of the university.”
“I think that goes a long way in trying to keep stability in the staff,” Holtz told The News-Star. “That’s been one of the things we’ve struggled with here. I certainly think this is a move in the right direction.”
Inside receivers coach Trey Holtz, Skip’s son, was the lone on-field assistant coach on put on contract as he joined Louisiana Tech on a volunteer basis back in January due to the state of Louisiana’s nepotism law and is currently not under contract with the university.
Under the new assistant coaches’ deals, any assistant is liable to pay the foundation an “amount equal to the greater of all moving expenses paid or reimbursed or 5 percent of his base salary” if he is employed at Louisiana Tech for less than 12 months.
“This is the necessary move as we continue to grow and enhance our athletic department,” Tech Athletic Department Tommy McClelland told The News-Star. “There’s some things you do, constructing buildings, what have you, and this could mitigate in those things. Part of how you build your department and have it in the right place is with contract employees.
“We’ve made the necessary improvement and I’m glad that we can get that done.”
Louisiana Tech offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Sloan and new defensive coordinator David Blackwell will make $187,500 this year. Offensive line coach Robert McFarland, who’s worked under Holtz for six seasons is set to be paid $140,000. Entering his third season at Tech, linebackers coach Brian Gamble will make $125,000 while cornerbacks coach Jeff Burris, new outsider receivers coach Jeff Allen and new defensive line coach Anthony Camp have a $115,000 annual salary. Special teams coach Dennis Smith will make $90,000.
At Group of Five college programs, successful assistant coaches likely afford themselves opportunities to move up to Power Five schools or more prominent staff positions such as coordinator roles – sometimes following just one season – and with that, they usually see a healthy bump in pay, situations that Holtz and McClelland understand.
They both hope the contracts prevent assistants leaving Tech before 12 months to take similar jobs that don’t come with a significant increase in terms and/or money.
“You’re going to have the ‘Bob Diacos,’ the ‘Manny Diazes’, some of those guys that come in as decorated as they are, they may be one-and-done. But I’ve said if before, if given the opportunity knowing the result, I’d hire them again. They both did great jobs,” Holtz said. “We’re going to have some of those high-profile guys come in that are on hard times and they’re really good football coaches. They’re going to get the opportunity move on with success.”
“I think it’s a lot of the young guys that are coming up. We’d like to have a little bit more stability with them because it’s not the turnover of one that’s going to change your program, it’s turning over four, five coaches every year which makes it very difficult. This is taking some steps to try and help that.”