Perhaps it's some obtuse variation on Albert Einstein's theory of ``relativity?'' Whatever the case, compensation packages for various university officials of the modern era are staggering when one considers an item from the Kansas University records of 40 years ago.
But first, some modern developments.
Bernie Sliger will retire as Florida State University's president in August, but not without substantial compensation. Sliger's salary is $155,000 annually; he gets a year of leave at 10 percent less ($139,500), then can return to the university as an economics professor at another 10 percent less ($125,550). He will be eligible for salary escalations thereafter.
The Illinois University football coach makes a lot more than the school's basketball coach, and both make more than the school president. Football coach and athletic director John Mackovic makes $229,950 and basketball coach Lou Henson earns $166,920. The school president, Stanley Ikenberry, makes $149,767.
``It's not a reflection of the university, it's a reflection of society,'' Ikenberry said. ``Sports obviously are an important part of it. We're not unique. Our coaches' compensation is in line.'' Asked about his salary in comparison to Ikenberry's, Henson said, ``I think the president is underpaid. He should get more money.'' Mackovic, also the IU athletic director, is the highest-paid university employee other than some doctors affiliated with the university's medical program.
Mackovic will receive $149,950 this year as coach; another $45,000 for overseeing the school's summer football camp; and $35,000 for being athletic director. Mackovic also is given use of two courtesy cars and a country club membership. Henson earns $96,920 as coach, and receives 90 percent of the net income from the school's summer basketball camp. Last year his share from the camp was $70,000, and it is expected to be about the same this year. The two coaches also make money from outside sources, including commercial endorsements, television and radio appearances and speaking engagements.
Colorado football coach Bill McCartney recently was paid a $75,833 bonus, in addition to his $130,000 yearly salary, for winning a national title the past season. The bonus came from a provision included in a confidential, lifetime contract McCartney was given by former school president Gordon Gee, now at Ohio State.
When Larry Brown was basketball coach at Kansas University, his total annual package, including shoe endorsements, basketball camps, broadcasting fees, salary and other benefits ran about $350,000. Had he chosen to be more aggressive with his ``marketing,'' friends said, the package could have run into the $500,000 range. Current coach Roy Williams also does quite well, but does not have the kind of income that Brown's could command.
Now for an important point of reference as to what has happened to salaries and benefits.
Forty years ago this summer, Dr. Franklin Murphy moved from the deanship of the Kansas University Medical School to the chancellorship on the Lawrence campus. The salary for the job was boosted from $14,500 to a then-whopping $15,000 a year. Murphy rates as one of the most important students, alumni and leaders in KU history. In the late 1950s, Kansas football coach Jack Mitchell was hired from Arkansas at a salary of $15,000 a year. The football job at KU is now worth well over $100,000 a year.
Nowadays, the KU chancellor's total or official compensation package is in the $150,000 category, but still runs far short of the amounts for other chancellors and presidents, and certainly pales in comparison to the income for people such as McCartney at Colorado and Mackovic and Henson at Illinois.
Something's out of whack when the annual Kansas City Royals' baseball salary total runs around $28 million and the current Kansas University College of Libral Arts and Sciences budget for a year runs at least a million dollars less than that.
Analysts, of course, will tell us that ``such things are relative,'' but that still doesn't make them right.