Auburn University is paying departed school president Steven Leath $4.5 million over three years, nearly tripling what he would be paid over the next three years if he worked through his contract, according to documents obtained Saturday by the Opelika-Auburn News.

The agreement describes three payments of $1.5 million being awarded to Leath as part of their terms for his leaving the school.

The terms also forbid Leath from disparaging the university or disclosing information the university considers confidential.

“Auburn and Dr. Leath together agreed to part ways. The board is grateful to Dr. Leath for his dedication to Auburn and wishes him and Mrs. Leath all the best,” said Brian Keeter, Auburn’s executive director of public affairs, when asked Saturday for a comment.

The agreement, which the Opelika-Auburn News obtained after filing a Freedom of Information request, is signed by Auburn’s trustee president pro tempore Wayne Smith.

In June 2017, Leath signed a five-year contract with Auburn offering him $625,000 per year in salary.

Now after two years, Leath is leaving — and making $1.5 million per year to not be Auburn’s president.

Auburn awarded him $1.5 million in separation money by July 1 according to the separation agreement document, and will pay him the same amount on July 1, 2020, and on July 1, 2021, to total $4.5 million, a year before his original contract was set to complete on July 15, 2022.

The university announced last month that Leath and the university board of trustees’ presidential assessment working group “mutually decided to part ways” in a news release.

No information was shared at that time regarding terms of the separation, and officials gave few comments about the matter.

Auburn’s board last week voted to bring back former school president Jay Gogue to serve as the school’s interim president.

The university has not announced any details yet regarding specifics on the search for a new president.


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