Cincinnati AD John Cunningham received contract extension into 2028


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CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati quietly agreed to a contract extension with athletic director John Cunningham earlier this year that runs through June 30, 2028. The agreement, obtained by The Athletic via a public record request, extends Cunningham’s original deal with the Bearcats, which ran from Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2024.

• The extension, approved by the Board of Trustees in April 2023, includes an initial salary increase from $475,000 to $650,000 starting July 1, 2023. Cunningham’s salary then increases by $25,000 annually up to $750,000 for the 2027-28 academic year.

• Cunningham will also receive an annual retention bonus beginning June 1, 2024, starting at $200,000 and increasing to $450,000 on June 1, 2028. He will also be eligible for an annual performance bonus that maxed out at $75,000 for the university’s fiscal year 2023 and maxes out at $275,000 for the university’s fiscal year 2028.

• Cunningham’s buyout — whether owed to the university should he choose to leave, or owed by the university to Cunningham should he be terminated — is $4.95 million on or before June 30, 2024, and drops to $900,000 on or before June 30, 2028.

Cunningham’s buyout

Termination (by Cunningham or UC) Buyout (to Cunningham or UC)

On or before June 30, 2024


On or before June 30, 2025


On or before June 30, 2026


On or before June 30, 2027


On or before June 30, 202


What you should know

Cunningham’s time at Cincinnati has been consistently eventful. He replaced former AD Mike Bohn, taking over just months before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the industry. The Bearcats discontinued men’s soccer in April 2020 as a result, but were otherwise able to navigate the pandemic without significant long-term disruption to the department.

In April 2021, Cunningham fired men’s basketball coach John Brannen for cause after two seasons following an internal investigation into the program. (Brannen and the university later reached a $2.75 million settlement regarding his dismissal.) Cunningham then hired Wes Miller, who enters his third season as head coach this fall.

Cunningham oversaw back-to-back American Athletic Conference championships and New Year’s Six bowl appearances by Cincinnati football in 2020 and 2021, including the program’s historic run to the four-team College Football Playoff in 2021 under head coach Luke Fickell. Cunningham also helped shepherd the Bearcats into the Big 12 Conference, where they will officially begin competing this season, as well as the approval and groundbreaking for a new $134-million indoor practice facility and performance center.

Cincinnati’s entry into the Big 12 coincides with a football coaching change from Fickell, who departed for Wisconsin, to Scott Satterfield, who Cunningham hired in December. Cunningham also made new head-coaching hires in baseball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer and women’s golf ahead of the 2023-24 season.

Required reading

(Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Athletics)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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