A bill passed the House last week that exempts college athletics coaches who are compensated by non-government funds from severance pay when they are dismissed for misconduct.
Rep. Chris Welch (D-Westchester) sponsored Senate Bill 529 in the House. Rep. Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) asked if the University of Illinois had any plans to terminate Coach Lovie Smith's contract, which is approximately $4 million.
"Can you help me understand why someone like him would need more than 20 weeks of severance?" Keicher asked.
Rep. Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore)
Welch said it's not about the person leaving but about who is coming in to take the position.
"Last year's bill limited severance benefits," Keicher said. "This bill seeks to create an exemption. It rewards bad directors. Athletic coaches are some of the highest paid employees."
Keicher said he urged a No vote on the bill.
Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-Crystal Lake) said the bill is not about competitive hiring practices and attracting talent.
"You want to know how I know that? It uses the word ‘severance,'" Skillicorn said. "It’s not about new employees — it’s about employees being let go for due cause. It’s about protecting bad actors and those taking advantage. A Yes vote is for golden parachutes and a No vote is for getting rid of golden parachutes."
The bill passed with 73 Yes votes, 38 No votes and one voting Present.
The bill amends the Government Severance Pay Act and says that the act will not apply to contracts or employment agreements for individuals employed by the department of intercollegiate athletics of a college or university when the employee's compensation is funded by non-state-appropriated funds.
It also provides that nothing in the provisions entitles an individual employed by the department of intercollegiate athletics of a college or university to receive severance pay when that individual has been dismissed for misconduct.