Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin paid $1.4 million despite drop in base salary, tax returns show

Adam Sparks
Nashville Tennessean

Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason and former basketball coach Bryce Drew saw their pay increase in the same year baseball coach Tim Corbin’s base salary was reduced, the university’s 2018 federal tax returns show.

And Nicholas Zeppos received a $690,000 bonus and nearly $2.3 million in total compensation in his last full year as Vanderbilt chancellor. He resigned in August 2019.

Mason topped $3 million in base salary for the first time in 2018, the season he coached the Commodores to a 6-7 record and an appearance in the Texas Bowl. He was credited with more than $3.5 million, including a $187,500 bonus, in total compensation in 2018.

Drew received a $39,000 increase in base salary to $1,848,094 in 2018. His total compensation was nearly $2 million that year. Drew was fired after the 2018-19 season, the worst in Vanderbilt basketball history.

Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason, left, and baseball coach Tim Corbin

Corbin’s base salary was reduced from $1,075,148 in 2017 to $949,643 in 2018. Along with a $201,750 bonus and other compensation, Corbin's total compensation slightly increased to nearly $1.4 million in 2018. Vanderbilt baseball advanced to 2018 Super Regional and won the 2019 national championship, the second title of Corbin’s career.

Corbin's 2018 pay was still higher than 11 MLB managers last season and every other coach at the 2019 College World Series, USA TODAY Sports surveys found.

Vanderbilt’s 2018 tax return is the most recent available. Private institutions are not required to disclose public records like employee salaries upon request. However, they must file a 990 federal tax return about 18 months after the reported calendar year, which was obtained by The Tennessean. The reporting deadline for this tax return was extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tax returns do not include contract terms or reasons for change in pay.

SEC coaches behind Mason in pay were fired

Mason’s 2019 pay is not available. His $3,534,497 in total compensation in 2018 would have ranked 11th among 14 SEC coaches in 2019, sitting ahead of Ole Miss’ Matt Luke ($3.1 million), Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead ($3.05 million) and Missouri’s Barry Odom ($3.05 million). All three coaches were fired after the 2019 season.

Mason has a 27-47 record in six seasons at Vanderbilt. He received contact extensions after each bowl appearance in 2016 and 2018 from then-athletics director David Williams.

Williams’ pay was virtually unchanged late in his tenure. He was credited with $1.1 million in total compensation in 2018. Williams retired on Jan. 31, 2019, and died a week later.

Williams’ replacement, Malcolm Turner, fired Drew and hired Jerry Stackhouse as men's basketball coach. Drew went 9-23 in 2018-19, including a 20-game losing streak. Stackhouse’s contract terms have not been disclosed.

Zeppos received big bonuses late in tenure

Zeppos hired Turner, who was forced to resign in February amid accusations of lavish spending. Turner was replaced by Candice Lee, who was promoted from deputy athletics director.

Zeppos was paid $5.7 million in bonuses from 2010-18, according to available tax returns, including a $2.9 million bonus in 2016. Daniel Diermeier became Vanderbilt’s new chancellor earlier this month.

Susan Wente, who served as interim chancellor between Zeppos and Diermeier, was credited with $949,465 in total compensation in 2018 as vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Only the highest-paid university employees appear on Vanderbilt’s tax returns. Corbin’s first appearance was in 2016, when he was paid $879,229 in base salary and a $1.2 million bonus. In 2017, Corbin was paid $1,318,162 in total compensation. In 2018, he was paid $1,359,195,.

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