When Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin received a six-year, $30 million contract extension in 2013, the athletic director at the time said he had zero input on the deal.
"I had nothing to do with it," Eric Hyman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram during a lengthy Wednesday interview. "I have done this job a long time and I don’t blame Kevin Sumlin. If someone is going to give you $5 million a year for six years, it would have been stupid of him to turn it down,” Hyman said. “But the contract was given to me, and it was ‘This is what we are going to do.’ I looked at myself and I was stunned.
"I had no say so over it."
Sumin was hired just a year earlier and went 11-2 with a win over Alabama during the season that ended with Johnny Manziel getting the Heisman Trophy and a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma. But the Aggies were 9-4 the following season and went 8-5 each year since.
Hyman, who is now retired at 66, previously worked at VMI, Miami (Ohio), TCU and South Carolina, said Sumlin had not yet earned such a rich contract. Sumlin went 36-17 in four years at Houston, going 13-1 in his final season with a Conference USA championship and win over Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl (now the Heart of Dallas Bowl).
"I’ve been doing this job for a long time. I had worked with Steve Spurrier for years, and he was paid a heck of a lot less than Coach Sumlin," Hyman added. "And he won national championships after conference championships. And then you are making this commitment to a person, and again I don’t blame Kevin, that’s never won a conference championship.
“When the original contract was given to me, if Kevin were to leave the next day there was no buyout provision."
Sumlin has been on the hot seat and blowing a huge lead in a 45-44 loss to UCLA in the season opener only added fuel to the fire. The Aggies have since rebounded with wins over Nicholls State and Louisiana Lafayette.
Hyman was fired in January of 2016 and said the only things he misses are the "connection with the student-athletes" and "some of the coaches." He said big-time college athletics has become too politcal and he'd recommend a lobotomy over being an athletic director at a Power 5 school to any 22-year-old who was considering that as a career path. He was especially critical of Texas A&M's "12th Man Foundation," which he said tries to run the athletic department.
"There were situations they did not let the athletic director do their job," Hyman said. "People there wanted to run the athletic department and not let the athletic director do it. It was so political. Because of that it’s made it difficult to achieve of what you wanted to do."
He said Sumlin's contract was a result of those people not knowing what they were doing. He said he faced similar situations at VMI and with TCU's Frog Club.
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"“I learned this valuable lesson when I was at VMI (Virginia Military Institute), what the 12th Man Foundation is, or the Frog Club, or whatever," Hyman told the Star-Telegram. "I learned this as a young, 33-year-old athletic director: VMI people are brilliant. They come to a meeting in a three-piece suit and they leave their brains at home.
"There are some schools that are more than that; A&M, to a certain extent, had more people like that. They would say things and do things that are mind-boggling."