Coach K Teaches, “Do What You Came Here to Do”
We were preparing to play in the 2007 NCAA Tournament when I got a phone message one day. One of our administrators was clearly frustrated by the fact that I had been talking with the athletic director at another school about a coaching job. “Well, Joanne,” I heard on the message. “If you think you are going anywhere, just check that contract and the buyout for $475,000. We own you.”
I replayed the message until it truly sunk in. I was stunned. What was she talking about? What did that mean? What buyout?
With shaking hands, I quickly opened my desk drawer and pulled out the contract I had signed (without really reading) after the 2005 Final Four. I was shaking, I was so nervous. I flipped through the 12-page document, almost hyperventilating. I finally saw the number . . . $475,000. She was right. “Oh my God,” I said out loud. I couldn’t believe it.
I raced home to John and showed it to him. I told him we were stuck, that there was no way we could get out of this deal. After a while, we both decided we had to do something to figure out what options we might have.
I went to see athletic director Ron Mason, but got nowhere. That was my buyout, he said, and he was not going to change it. I couldn’t believe everybody was this serious. I could quit, but that was not a legitimate option. I would still have to pay the buyout before I could coach anywhere else. I was really deflated.
My players, of course, had no idea ...