With Hoeppner's health in question, contract status uncertain

Updated: June 7, 2007, 5:32 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Terry Hoeppner's contract with Indiana University could be voided if a doctor determines the Hoosiers' ailing football coach is permanently disabled.

The contract, obtained by The Associated Press under a Freedom of Information request, does not specify a timetable for making such a decision.

Hoeppner, who turns 60 in August, has undergone two brain surgeries since December 2005 and is on his third medical leave from the team. Still, he signed a two-year extension to his contract last December.

His latest absence began in mid-March and is the longest of the three. Hoeppner has not made a public appearance since late February at a NCAA luncheon in Indianapolis.

Athletic director Rick Greenspan recently expressed concern over Hoeppner's prolonged absence but declined repeated interview requests from The Associated Press.

The disability provision in Hoeppner's contract, which is similar to language in other coaches' contracts, allows the contract, which runs through June 2012, to be terminated for physical or mental disabilities.

University spokesman Larry MacIntyre said Thursday that Greenspan must initiate the process.

"The employee reports to the athletic director, so it's in the hands of the athletic director," MacIntyre said. "That's where it remains until the athletic director decides what to do."

Both sides must agree on which doctor performs the exam. If they cannot agree, Dr. Vidya Kora, the president of the Indiana State Medical Association, would appoint one. The university president then must approve the doctor.

Kora said Wednesday he has not been contacted.

"The only discussion that's taken place that I've been involved in is that Terry Hoeppner plans on coaching this fall, but that was a while ago," outgoing trustees president Stephen Ferguson said. "Terry, as is his right, has kept all that information to himself."

Hoeppner receives a base salary of $250,000 and another $300,000 for his role in promotional activities, which the university has continued to pay in his absence. He also receives $50,000 annually in deferred compensation and has incentive bonuses based on the Hoosiers' on-field performance.

In early May, Hoeppner issued a statement through the university, saying he continued to receive medical treatment and remained "inspired to return to coaching when my health permits."

But there has been no indication of when he might return.

With fall practice just two months away, a big decision looms for Greenspan.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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