One day before he was poised to receive a multiyear extension to his contract, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp has asked that a decision be delayed in order to quash "goofy rumors" about its circumstances.
In a letter to A&M System Board of Regents Chairman Cliff Thomas obtained by The Texas Tribune, Sharp asked the board to hold off on considering his extension until August. That, he said, will allow Gov. Greg Abbott's newest appointee to the board, Tim Leach, to vote on it — assuming Leach is confirmed by the Texas Senate.
Sharp wrote that there are persistent rumors that the board is trying to approve the extension before Leach makes it onto the board. "Nothing could be further from the truth," Sharp wrote to Thomas.
"Tim is a dear friend and he has said publicly that he is a supporter of the direction we are going," Sharp wrote. "Nevertheless, it's no big deal to wait until the August board meeting to do this and I request you consider it then."
Sharp added, "I know you had hoped the regents would be confirmed by now, and that's why you set [the vote] for this date."
Regents were poised to vote on the issue at their regular meeting in College Station on Thursday. Last week, five members — a majority of the board — indicated that they supported the extension. But two regents, Tony Buzbee and Robert Albritton, said they opposed the idea. They argued that it was too soon in Sharp's current contract to extend it, and they questioned whether the board should be making such a financial commitment to Sharp.
Sharp has served as chancellor since 2011. Less than two years ago, he signed a contract with the system that will last until 2020 and promises him a base pay of $900,000 per year. Last year, he earned $1.3 million in total compensation.
The extension set to be considered by the board would have kept his salary the same but stretched his contract out until 2023.
Disclosure: Texas A&M University and Tony Buzbee have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.