AUBURN — Auburn University has agreed to pay its departed president $4.5 million over a period of three years, according to documents outlining the separation agreement obtained by the Opelika-Auburn News.

The deal reported by the newspaper Saturday means the university will pay Steven Leath more than double the $625,000 annual salary he would have earned if he remained Auburn's president. The newspaper said it obtained the records from the university using a Freedom of Information request.

Asked for comment Saturday, Auburn spokesman Brian Keeter said: "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."

Auburn announced in June that its board of trustees and Leath, the school's president since 2017, had mutually agreed that he should resign. The separation agreement covers the final three years remaining on Leath's contract.

The documents show Leath was awarded $1.5 million on July 1. The university will pay him the same sum in a year, and a final $1.5 million installment on July 1, 2021.

Terms of the agreement, signed by Auburn's trustee president pro tempore Wayne Smith, forbid Leath from disparaging the university or from disclosing any information it considers confidential.

Former Auburn president Jay Gogue has agreed to serve as interim president until a permanent replacement is chosen. The university has not released any details about its plans to search for a new president.

Before coming to Auburn, Leath had served as president of Iowa State University and vice president for research and sponsored programs for the University of North Carolina System.
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