Cleveland State Coach Dennis Gates Signs Five-Year Contract: Salary, Buyout, Incentives

Cleveland State was a late addition to the 2019 college basketball coaching carousel as the university hired former Florida State assistant Dennis Gates to be its head coach.

Gates signed a five-year contract worth $1.45 million in total base salary with Cleveland State and Stadium obtained a copy of the contract via public records request.

Gates will make $280,000 in base salary during the 2019-20 season and his base salary will increase by $5,000 in each subsequent year. He’ll also receive $25,000 annually in additional compensation, bringing his 2019-20 compensation to $305,000, ignoring any other benefits and prior to any performance-based incentives.

He can earn the following incentives:

  • Conference Coach of the Year: $10,000
  • National Coach of the Year: $25,000
  • Conference regular season championship or co-championship: $10,000
  • If team’s regular season finish results in team being No. 2 or No. 3 seed in conference tournament: $7,500
  • If any season in the first three years of the contract term, team’s regular season winning percentage in conference play is at least .500: $5,000
  • Wins conference tournament: $15,000
  • If team wins opening round/first round game in the NCAA Tournament: $10,000
  • If team plays in the Sweet 16: $10,000
  • If team plays in the Elite Eight: $25,000
  • If team plays in the Final Four: $50,000
  • If team wins the national championship: $50,000
  • If team competes in the NIT: $5,000
  • If team wins the NIT: $10,000
  • If team is invited to participate in the CBI or CIT, and if team’s winning percentage for all regular season and postseason games is at least .500: $2,500
  • If team wins the CBI or CIT: $5,000


Gates’ coach/team performance-based incentives will be capped at $100,000 annually.

He can also earn academic performance bonuses:

  • If team’s single-year APR score is greater than 960: $5,000
    • plus $7,500 if it’s greater than 975
    • plus $10,000 if it’s greater than 990
    • plus $12,500 if it’s 1,000
  • If team’s GPA is not less than 2.8: $2,500
    • plus $2,500 if it’s not less than 3.0
  • If one or more team members is/are named to the conference’s all-academic team: $10,000
  • For each team member who is named to the conference academic honor roll: $1,000


Gates will have the opportunity to earn retention bonuses of $25,000 if he’s still employed by Cleveland State on April 15, 2023 and April 15, 2024. He will receive a monthly vehicle stipend of $600.

Gates will get 12 complimentary season tickets for home games. He and his spouse and dependent children can travel with the team for away games and postseason competition for no cost, at the discretion of the athletic director.

The university paid Gates up to $20,000 in relocation expenses, plus airfare for two round trips for him and his family to search for housing. The school will also reimburse the cost of temporary housing in the Cleveland area up to $3,000 per month for six months.

Gates’ budget for three assistant coaches, a director of basketball operations and the student-athlete development coordinator is at least $400,000 per year.

Gates, or a designee, is responsible for scheduling future games subject to the approval of the athletic director. The two parties agreed that Cleveland State must achieve at least $200,000 in revenue from guarantee games annually.

If Cleveland State terminates Gates’ contract without cause, he will receive severance equal to the remaining base salary for the rest of the contract term, or the rest of the remaining $1.45 million.

If Gates terminates the contract, he’ll owe the university the following:

  • $1.2 million: On or before May 1, 2020
  • $600,000: After May 1, 2020 but on/before April 1, 2021
  • $300,000: After April 1, 2021 but on/before April 1, 2022
  • $150,000: After April 1, 2022 but on/before April 1, 2023
  • No liquidated damages if coach terminates contract after April 1, 2023


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