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Athletics Director's contract included $60K payment for early resignation

Illinois State University Athletics Director Kyle Brennan will resign, effective April 30.
Emily Bollinger
WGLT file
Illinois State University Athletics Director Kyle Brennan will resign, effective April 30.

Outgoing Athletics Director Kyle Brennan may owe Illinois State University some money as he leaves.

Brennan signed a three-year contract extension last summer that gave him a 10% raise (to $242,892 annually) and the possibility of up to $20,000 per year in performance bonuses. But that same revised contract also requires him to pay ISU back 25% of his annual salary if he resigned prior to June 2027, according to contract documents obtained by WGLT; 25% of his salary would be around $60,723.

ISU announced Thursday that Brennan resigned effective April 30, after WGLT raised questions about Athletics spending on a donor junket to Indianapolis. WGLT asked an ISU spokesperson Friday whether the university would be seeking or expecting Brennan to pay that $60,723.

“As Kyle’s resignation is effective April 30, the details of his separation are still being worked out at this time,” said the spokesperson.

As the director of an ISU department with a $30 million budget, Brennan was one of ISU's highest-paid employees. Brennan was hired as retired Athletics Director Larry Lyons’ successor in January 2021, when Larry Dietz was still ISU’s president.

Brennan’s initial 3½-year contract paid him $220,000 a year, plus a $12,600 relocation allowance, a loaner vehicle (or up to $600 per month for a vehicle), and a family golf membership to the Bloomington Country Club. The contract allowed ISU to fire Brennan for “cause” if there was evidence of “discreditable conduct that is inconsistent with the professional standards expected” or any “conduct seriously adverse to the interests of Illinois State University and its athletics programs.”

Four months after Brennan started, ISU named Dietz’s successor — Terri Goss Kinzy, who became a visible and vocal Athletics supporter.

Under Kinzy’s watch, ISU gave Brennan his three-year contract extension in July 2022, less than two years on the job. That new contract added the performance bonuses up to $20,000 per year, in six categories. For example, he’d get $4,500 if ISU won the Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy, and $4,500 if ISU’s student-athletes earned an Academic Progress Rate (APR) score of 985 or above from the NCAA. ISU won the MVC All-Sports Trophy three straight years: 2018-19, (no award in COVID year), 2020-21, and 2021-22.

That 2022 revised contract added the 25% resignation payment.

Neither Brennan or Kinzy would make it to the end of their contracts. Kinzy resigned abruptly in February for unknown reasons. On the day she resigned, Brennan tweeted: “Dr. Kinzy was the most supportive President I’ve been around, and she will be greatly missed by our coaches, staff and probably most of all by our student-athletes. Thank you (Dr. Kinzy) for a job well done and we all wish you the best!”

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.