Morgan Scalley’s Utah football contract allows termination for cause; there’s no indication he has yet signed amended deal

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utes defensive coordinator, Morgan Scalley leads his charges as the University of Utah hosts Idaho State Bengals, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.

As Morgan Scalley’s suspension over a seven-year old text message that included a racial slur plays out, the significant investment the University of Utah made in its defensive coordinator six months ago could be in doubt.

With a timetable for the conclusion of an outside firm’s investigation into the Scalley situation unknown, there is specific language in the existing two-year, $1.64 million deal that would appear to support termination with cause, if athletic director Mark Harlan and fellow-university leadership feel compelled to make a change.

Under the “Terminations for Cause” section of Scalley’s contract, obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune via GRAMA request, subsection No. 3 reads, “Any conduct of Coach that constitutes moral turpitude, or which would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule upon University.”

Subsection No. 7 reads, “Failure to positively represent University and University’s athletic programs in private and public forums.”

Whether or not the school could pull the trigger on a firing based on either subsection is unclear, but the contract does give Harlan final administrative authority on the matter.

On Dec. 9, the school announced a “contract amendment” to that two-year, $1.64 million deal. The terms of the amended contract were and continue to be undisclosed, but it is widely believed that Scalley is the favorite to succeed Kyle Whittingham whenever the head coach decides to retire.

The Salt Lake Tribune submitted a GRAMA request for the fifth time on Saturday morning in an effort to see what the amendment entails. The previous four requests have been returned, in part, with “The University has performed a thorough search of its files and has been unable to locate any records responsive to your request.”

That alone indicates the possibility that Scalley has not signed any contract amendment.

The Dec. 9 announcement came at a time when Scalley was in some demand. He was connected to the UNLV job, which eventually went to Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo at a starting base salary of $1.5 million.

Scalley was also thought to be in the mix for the Texas defensive coordinator gig, but was quoted at the Alamo Bowl as saying, “What I will say is nothing really ever got serious, so it's not worth talking about.” That position went to former Rutgers head coach Chris Ash, who will make $800,000 for the 2020 season.

Without knowing what the amendment entails, Scalley’s annual salary makes him one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the Pac-12. The latest two-year deal went into effect on Feb. 1, 2019 and included a 56% raise to get him to $820,000 per season.

While there is no timetable for a resolution, Utah is preparing to welcome student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts beginning June 15. Coaches cannot be a part of the voluntary workouts.

Based on a six-week preseason practice proposal reportedly being prepared by the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee, of which Harlan is a member, Utah’s football staff could begin interacting with players in an official capacity starting in the second week of July.