Anyone who has worked at a college or university that plays high-level athletics knows the problems that come with athletics. One trend that has exploded in recent years is the dramatic growth in coaching salaries for head coaches and increasingly assistant coaches. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently released data on salaries derived from data submitted by institutional reporting to the internal revenue service. The Dallas Morning News wrote an nice article examining the issue and included my views on the problem.
Score! At many colleges, football coaches earn the fattest paychecks
By Holly K. Hacker, Dallas Morning News
As Baylor’s president and chancellor, Ken Starr took home a sweet paycheck in 2014. He earned $896,000, including a $175,000 performance bonus.
But that’s paltry compared with what Art Briles made as head football coach: $5.9 million. Three other coaches (men’s basketball, women’s basketball and assistant football) all made more than Starr, too.
If a college’s salaries reflect its values, then it’s clear what many Texas schools treasure, based on a new report showing what universities paid their presidents and other top employees.
The Chronicle of Higher Education analyzed pay for top employees at more than 500 private colleges and universities in 2014. Presidents who served at least a full year earned $512,987, on average.
In most cases, the president took home the biggest paycheck. But the report found exceptions. At Texas Christian University, head football coach Gary Patterson earned $4 million and men’s basketball coach Trent Johnson made $2 million, while Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. received $1.3 million.
It’s worth noting that TCU and Baylor are the two lone private schools that belong to the Big 12 Conference, one of the country’s powerhouse athletic groups. Baylor ousted Briles in May amid controversy over how the school handled rape accusations, including some that involved football players. The school also removed Starr as president, and he later left the school.
Baylor’s football team had $35.6 million in revenue and $28.4 million in expenses in 2014-15, as reported to the U.S. Department of Education.
Over in the Southeastern Conference, Vanderbilt paid men’s basketball coach Kevin Stallings a cool $4.5 million, while Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos made a mere $1.4 million.
Coaches have valuable skill sets, but the Chronicle report suggests that their salaries are “out of control,” said Michael Harris, a higher education professor at SMU.
“Universities, and particularly their boards of trustees, value coaches, and they are going to pay and overpay for them. It may even be reasonable that a coach makes more than a president,” Harris said. “Yet when coaches make 10 times more than presidents who make 10 times more than faculty, higher education needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror.”
Others argue that highly paid, successful coaches help bring millions of dollars to a college and make it a more popular draw for students.
No one in the Chronicle’s private college survey made as much as an East Coast surgeon: Thomas L. Spray, a surgery professor and chief at the University of Pennsylvania, took home $8.4 million in 2014.