JMU’s Mark Byington Earns Thousands In Contract Bonuses, And What’s His Buyout?

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

Mark Byington inherited a JMU team in desperate need of a turnaround. The Dukes were 9-21 the season prior to his arrival, and they hadn’t made the NIT or NCAA Tournament since 2013. 

Byington has delivered – perhaps more than even initially expected – in his quest to make JMU men’s basketball respectable again. The Dukes are 28-3 heading into the Sun Belt Tournament, and they’re considered both an NCAA Tournament bubble team and the betting favorite to cut down the nets in Pensacola, Florida. 

Since arriving at JMU, Byington is 78-35, including a 50-14 mark the last two seasons. He’s defeated UVA and Michigan State during that span, while also owning the in-state rivalry with Old Dominion (6-0). 

He’s building himself a resume worthy of Power Conference consideration, and he’s racking up plenty of contract bonuses in the process. 

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Bonuses earned 

Byington earns a base salary of $445,000 that’s supplemented with an additional $155,000 through private funding sources, according to his contract, which JMU Sports News obtained through a FOIA request. With contract bonuses, Byington figures to make more than $650,000 in 2023-24. 

Byington receives a $5,000 bonus for every win over a Top 75 RPI team or Power 5 opponent. The win over Michigan State to open the season gives Byington a $5,000 check. 

Byington also receives $2,500 per game for winning five games selected by the Athletic Director. It’s unclear what those five games might’ve been in 2023-24, but given the Dukes’ 28-3 record, it’s fair to assume Byington won at least some of those five contests. 

JMU’s head coach earns a $20,000 bonus for the Dukes winning 25 or more games. He earns an additional 10,000 for the Dukes finishing in the top 3 of the Sun Belt standings. 

All considered, Byington has earned at least $35,000 in contract bonus incentives this season. 

Editor’s note: Thanks to Christopher William Jewelers for their advertising support.

Bonuses still available 

With a strong finish to the season, Byington can far surpass that $35,000 earned. 

If JMU wins its SBC quarterfinal game, Byington earns $5,000. The same is true for a semifinal win. A conference tournament championship results in a $10,000 bonus. If JMU wins all three of its conference tournament games, Byington pockets $20,000 in bonuses. 

Receiving a bid to the NCAA Tournament results in another $10,000 for Byington, as does every NCAA Tournament game played through the round of 32. 

If the Dukes participate in the Sweet 16, Byington earns $50,000. He can earn another $50,000 for the Dukes playing in the Elite Eight. If the Dukes play in a Final Four contest, he can earn $75,000. Playing in the national title would result in another $75,000 bonus. 

If JMU wins a national title, Byington can earn $100,000. 

Should JMU fall short of the NCAA Tournament, there are NIT incentives as well. Byington makes $5,000 for JMU earning an NIT bid. Each NIT game played through the quarterfinals earns him $5,000. Playing in the NIT Final Four would result in a $30,000 bonus, as would the Dukes playing in the championship game. 

Winning the NIT carries with it a $50,000 bonus. 

While a national title run seems unlikely, it doesn’t seem outlandish to think Byington could earn another $30,000+ during the Dukes’ postseason push. 

What’s Mark Byington’s buyout?

While Byington’s contract runs through the 2028-29 basketball season, he figures to attract significant Power Conference attention well before his contract expires. 

If Byington leaves JMU for a Power 6 job (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, PAC-12, SEC) prior to April 24, 2026, his buyout is $500,000. If he leaves for a new job in Conference USA, Mountain West, MAC, or the Sun Belt prior to April 24, 2026, JMU receives a $400,000 payment. 

It’s unlikely, albeit not impossible, that Byington would leave for a different mid-major job. In all likelihood, he’d seek a Power 6 opportunity as his next landing spot. Byington’s name has been floated as a top candidate for the West Virginia job. 

In the meantime, however, the Dukes still have plenty left ahead in 2024. The Dukes play in the conference tournament this week, and they’ll likely play in the NCAA Tournament or NIT after that with a legitimate chance to win games in either event.

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