Archive for Saturday, December 12, 2009

Who will curb insane salaries in university athletics?

December 12, 2009


News stories earlier this week told of University of Texas officials increasing the salary of their football coach, Mack Brown, from $3 million a year to at least $5 million. Also, Brown will get an additional $450,000 as a bonus if his team beats Alabama in the Jan. 7 national championship game in Pasadena, Calif.

This is insane to begin with, but particularly so at a time when most universities are facing severe fiscal restraints.

Also, this is sure to activate the “domino effect” among the big-time, big-money, big-ego football coaches at other major universities who will make it clear that if Brown is getting a $2 million raise, they also should be in line for hefty increases.

It’s like throwing a rock into a small pond and watching the resulting waves touch all the surrounding banks.

Throughout the nation, and certainly in Kansas, state legislators, boards of regents or curators, chancellors and presidents all are immersed in what to do about the current dire economic situation.

Faculty members are being furloughed, and academic programs are being cut back or eliminated. Parents and students are told tuition costs are likely to increase. With cutbacks in academic programs, there is the possibility students will be required to spend an extra semester or year in school to obtain the credit hours they need for a degree. Crumbling buildings do not get repairs, and every possible measure is studied to see how to run the university with less money while maintaining its academic excellence.

And yet, athletic directors think nothing of awarding multimillion-dollar salaries while those in the schools’ academic positions are being asked to sacrifice and get by with less.

Those defending the insane salaries being paid to coaches, assistant coaches and athletic directors, almost in unison, are quick to say, “We are independent; we use private money, not state money.”

Any way you cut it, the athletic program at Texas or Kansas is part of the university. They do receive some state money, but a great deal of their funding comes from private contributors.

Nevertheless, they are looked to as a part of the university. Private money donated to the athletic programs goes through endowment associations, which allows donors to count a good share of their gifts as tax-deductible.

At this time, KU Athletic Director Lew Perkins is looking for a new football coach. Various observers have differing ideas of who might be Perkins’ favorite candidate, but most individuals commenting on the search point out “money” or “salary” demands should not be an issue because Perkins is sure to offer a package that is more than competitive. “He has the money to spend,” they say.

KU now has earned the reputation of being one of the top big-time spenders with dollars flowing to coaching salaries, new buildings, renovations and now a possible $34 million “Gridiron Club” for Memorial Stadium. Where will it stop if it is allowed to continue even when faculty members are faced with frozen salaries, cutbacks in various enrichment programs and the elimination of classes?

Consider the pressure on university chancellors and presidents in these severe economic times when their coaches are getting bigger and better salaries with many tacked-on bonuses and, at the same time, their faculty members are being told the school cannot afford to award salary increases.

Something is out of whack. There is a terrible imbalance of priorities.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little is in the hot seat, perhaps unfairly in that she just recently moved into the chancellor’s office and had nothing to do with the growth and spending in her athletic department. Nevertheless, KU’s athletic director does work for and report to her even though some want to suggest the athletic department is independent of the university as it scouts the country trying to find and lure a top-flight football coach.

Salary, fringe benefits, lengthy contracts with bonuses for various special levels of achievement, generous payoffs if the coach is terminated, several cars for the coach and his wife, club memberships, extra tickets to the football games and maybe for KU basketball games and travel goodies all are a part of the package.

What kind of salary will KU offer its new football coach? Will the new coach top the $2.3 million former coach Mark Mangino received? If so, how can this be justified when the school is facing such severe fiscal restraints?

Gray-Little has a chance to make a loud statement about what is important at the university, her priorities. Does she say enough is enough in this arms race among the nation’s athletic departments, or does she give her athletic director free rein to offer whatever is necessary to hire a good coach?

What she does is sure to send a signal not only throughout the Big 12 Conference but also throughout the country. The Texas decision to give its coach a $2 million increase sent a very loud message throughout the Big 12, and it certainly was heard by all of the other coaches.

The eyes of many chancellors and presidents will be on Gray-Little to see how she deals with runaway spending and excesses in athletics. Will she show restraint, or will KU, to keep up with the Joneses, join the parade of athletic big spenders?

It is out of control, but who is willing to stand up and bring reason and balance to this obscene climate where dollars and egos call the shots? Can one person make a difference? Is it worth a try?

Is there any chance KU might be able to set an example for the rest of the conference — or nation?

Once more, the current obsession with money and spending by athletic officials is obscene! What are the values of this country?


Will Babbit 8 years, 4 months ago

Umm, the values of this country are money, followed closely by sports...did you just move here?

Phillbert 8 years, 4 months ago

I always enjoy it when someone whose name is on various plaques at athletic facilities because of his donations then complains about "out-of-control" athletic spending.

cowboy 8 years, 4 months ago

Oh lord make me puke , Values espoused by a monopoly media organization the LJW. How little actual reporting do you do on the behind the scenes deals in Lawrence ? How much money do you make on your pay per view porn on Sunflower , don't talk about values unless your own house is in order.

grimpeur 8 years, 4 months ago

Bravo. This editorial is long overdue.

persevering_gal 8 years, 4 months ago

Gridiron Club can go where the sun don't shine. Where can I make a donation to KU for academic learning and research?

zzgoeb 8 years, 4 months ago

This is not about values, it's about balance. When a coach at KU, ANY coach makes more in a year than a faculty member makes in a career, and a staffer makes in 10 careers, that's out of balance. As for the dollars generated by the teams for TV time, etc, those dollars wind up back in the athletics program, no matter what Lew or others claim, most likely by "creative" accounting. The other sad reality is that high-roller alums, who have about as much sense as the school about this issue, will continue to throw dollars at the sports program, and holler at the chancellor if they don't like this year's outcomes in the conference.

I'll offer two simple fixes for this; charge the marquee teams sports a large annual fee to use the university's name and logos, and for every dollar spent on sports facilities(read jock palaces), the athletic fund must give the U. a dollar to spend on academic facilities. This would help create a more balanced environment.

jayhawklawrence 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't know what Dolph is complaining about. He is the one who supports all the ultra right wing conservatives and accuses Obama of being just short of a communist.

Therein lies the big contradiction. You cannot have it both ways. It is not a black and white world and never will be.

I congratulate Lew for being a very good businessman and talking me out of $90 for the Nebraska game. We should be thinking God that someone is making money right now.

wastewatcher 8 years, 4 months ago

The editorial is right on, but does not go far enough. When is the Dolphster going to demand to see the contracts or the reasons that led to the three recently retired Presidents to be paid full salary by the regents to do nothing. How many people are on the Regents payroll and doing nothing. I read that Pitt State now has it's athletic director on full paid leave to sort out his personal conduct.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

If Dolph is really serious, he needs to do his part in shutting down the hype machines that drive big-time sports, amateur and pro.

That means he should dismantle his sports departments at the JW and on Sunflower cable.

Does anyone really think he'd shut down the cash cow that drives his ad sales?

Phillbert 8 years, 4 months ago

@Dolph - I trust we'll soon see a daily "Academics" section replacing the Sports section?

@persevering_gal -

@Bob_Keeshan - From each according to his ability, to each according to Dolph.

George Lippencott 8 years, 4 months ago

Zillons for sports not one cent for education!!! Could we have our values misplaced?

dinglesmith 8 years, 4 months ago

Please visit where one would think KUEA stands for KU Endowment Association. I believe the owner of the paper we are reading has substantial influence within KUEA. Possibly he should match his words with his actions.

Mandie Eutsler 8 years, 4 months ago

People aren't going to the local clothing stores to buy the jersey that has the number of the valedictorian. the athletic dept. makes thier own money, they can do whatever they want with it. I don't know about texas or any other school, but lew perkins has offered to donate 40 mil. to the school when this gridiron club gets off the ground. so we should support our sports teams and hope he continues to be generous...

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 4 months ago

Not to worry. Money and sports are self-limiting endeavors.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"One that KU takes full advantage of in every aspect."

Define "KU."

anon1958 8 years, 4 months ago

Capitalism does not enter into the discussion. The taxpayers of Kansas and students are subsidizing the exhorbitant salaries of Uncle Fester and Bill Self and whoever the next failed football coach is.

You do not really believe the KU Athletic Corporation is paying a fair market price for the use of the stadium and field house do you? KUAC receives millions per year in subsidies from Kansas taxpayers to run its so called corporation.

I would explain it in more detail but for the fact that Kansans are too dumb to understand it and no one has the political will to take the crack cocaine...err I mean sports entertainment away from the fans.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 4 months ago

( hmm... 'twould appear that "capitalism" has entered the discussion twice... three times! ... now )

jaywalker 8 years, 4 months ago

"I always enjoy it when someone whose name is on various plaques at athletic facilities because of his donations then complains about “out-of-control” athletic spending."

Donors are part of the problem and therefore can't speak out against outrageous salaries? That may be the dumbest thing posted all day. We'll have to wait and see.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"Donors are part of the problem and therefore can't speak out against outrageous salaries?"

With Dolph, it isn't just his hypocritical donations. It's also how he funds those donations-- through ad dollars from the JW's KU sports hype machine.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 4 months ago

I call BS on those who claim this isn't capitalism.

Taxpayers subsidize all sorts of capitalistic activities. Why should KU Athletics suffer?

You can't have it both ways. Kudos to KU Athletics for being successful. Shame on those who trumpet the free market elsewhere but blanch at any attempt by KU Athletics to thrive.

Ryan Wood 8 years, 4 months ago

Dolph did cut the salaries of his employees recently, so you can't say he doesn't practice what he preaches.

Mark Pickerel 8 years, 4 months ago

Hey Dolph, can you cut my cable bill in half?

Thanks in Advance.

melott 8 years, 4 months ago

Donations to KU can be made for scholarships and research. A good target is graduate student fellowships, because they help both learning and research. You can name the Department if you want. Call the KU Endowment Association.

tomatogrower 8 years, 4 months ago

It's time to take sports out of the educational institutions. Make cities pay for the below high school league sports. You can still tie their participation to their school performance, but no education money should go towards sports. Then the Universities should make the sports tied to their schools pay for the facilities. Sure the sports department probably pays for most of their salaries, new buildings and scholarships, but do they pay the janitors to clean? Do they pay the utilities for their complexes? Do they pay for the parking nazis to work overtime, and force students who are there for an education to move their cars? If the sports are totally self sustaining, then fine. But I'll bet some of their expenses are being paid for by our tax dollars. And if a student is only choosing to go to KU, because the basketball team is number one, maybe they shouldn't want such shallow students there.

jaywalker 8 years, 4 months ago

"It's time to take sports out of the educational institutions"

Oh, for the love of all that's good and holy..... Pigs flying would be a comparable topic, that is if you're wanting to talk about something that has no shot in hell of ever happening.

anon1958 8 years, 4 months ago

LMAO at the original Bob and his idea that a football coach is a good investment.

Here is a sample of just one article among dozens that year after year report pretty much the same thing

"In the Football Championship Subdivision (the competitive level previously known as Division I-AA), there was a less visible gap between haves and have-nots, because not a single athletics program had positive net revenues in 2006. The median net loss for the 118 programs at that level was $7.1 million, although programs generated as much as $15.2 million in revenues and spent as much as $34.9 million, far above the medians of $2.3 million and $11.4 million, respectively."

(Article from Inside Higher Education)

Read it and weep ORIGINAL BOB football loses money EVERYWHERE.

anon1958 8 years, 4 months ago

Bob_Keeshan (Anonymous) says…

I call BS on those who claim this isn't capitalism.

I call BS on Bob Keeshan's ability to reason.

Big time college sports are insulated from the principles of capitalism because under a capitalistic model they would have been bankrupt long ago.



A (Money) Losing Proposition May 16, 2008

"The patterns have been clear for some time, to anyone spending even a modicum of time examining the numbers. But a recently released financial survey from the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- modified from earlier versions of the report that sometimes obscured the reality -- makes abundantly plain that playing big-time college sports is, on balance, a money-losing enterprise. And it is growing increasingly so with each passing year, as expenses accelerate faster than revenues."

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Simons, this is called market-based competition.

The athletic department at KU is allowed to practice it, whereas the academic side is not.

On the academic side, KU is impeded by the state in terms of how much it can charge for its product (tuition) and pay its employees (faculty).

On the athletic side, it is the market that rules, and people love their college sports.

Maybe instead of restricting the free market on the athletic side, we should give it a chance on the academic side.

Allow KU tuition to reflect the real cost of a KU research university education.

mikerotch61 8 years, 4 months ago

Where's the "Who will curb insane tuitions in state-funded universities" article?

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 4 months ago

Maybe instead of restricting the free market on the athletic side, we should give it a chance on the academic side.

Allow KU tuition to reflect the real cost of a KU research university education.

strongbadia 8 years, 4 months ago

Shaddup Dolph, your newspaper is a piece of schit that needs KU basketball to stay afloat.

Tbone 8 years, 4 months ago

I know there is no way you can actually be this dense. I'm sure you understand that the athletic teams, the revenue teams at least, make a great deal of money, quite a bit of which makes it's way into the University's coffers. $40 million for academics from the proposed Gridiron Club sound familiar? That's well over a decade's worth of coaching salary. And of course even a simpleton would realize that these teams make considerably more money when they win. Believe it or not, the head coach has some bearing on the propensity of a team to win or lose. You have to know this, right?

KS 8 years, 4 months ago

Who will curb insare spending in Washington, DC? That is a more important question than what is spent in college athletics!

anon1958 8 years, 4 months ago

Tbone (Anonymous) says…

I know there is no way you can actually be this dense. I'm sure you understand that the athletic teams, the revenue teams at least, make a great deal of money, quite a bit of which makes it's way into the University's coffers.

Your statements are true only in the fantasy world of propaganda and lies foisted upon a disinterested public by the likes of Uncle Fester and his colleagues.

You know this, right?

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 4 months ago

The free market system has worked on the athletic side. There is a huge demand, so there is much money from consumers. Therefore, the price of the product and the salaries increase.

It would be nice to try this on the academic side. Remove state restrictions on the cost of tuition and salaries, and allow KU to charge a tuition rate that reflects what a KU education actually costs.

StrangerCreek 8 years, 4 months ago

This is a right but lost cause. You can't win it. It's out of control. Money runs everything. What does it say about a society where the guy who can push a ball down the field is more important than the guy who invents the cure for a debilitating disease? It's the donors who skew it.

When I read that Larry Johnson was making $300,000 a week it made me sick. Three hundred grand. A week? For what? Pushing a ball down the field? It is insane.

I think what might right the ship is if the University went bankrupt and then the Teams wouldn't have anything to align themselves to. That what's coming if it doesn't stop.

Mike Blur 8 years, 4 months ago

The interesting thing is that Dolph, as a man of privilege, rails against KUAC staff who had to work their way to the top. Mangino started his career as a tollbooth collector on the Penn Turnpike.

What did Dolph do to achieve his position as executive editor of the LJ-W? He fell out of his mommy's tummy into a good pile of cash.

I normally wouldn't care about this, but Dolph brought it up.

He is just jealous that the profession that his parents groomed him for--exec ed of the LJ-W--doesn't pay as well as the prominent sports positions on the Hill.

One note to Dolph, brother. Buck up and prove yourself to be a leader of men on par with Bill Self, Turner Gill, and Lew Perkins. Then I'l listen to your socialist teenage rantings. Dolph, you are bush league.

(Kansas University should consider themselves lucky to have Lew as AD at 400K/per. Lew could generate tens of millions per annum in a private sector PR firm.)

leedavid 8 years, 4 months ago

The sports program brings in millions upon millions of dollars and there are people that don't want to pay the personnel, equipment and facilities necessary to generate those dollars. They want to send it to the English department so students can be forced to study the insane symbolic meaning of an author or some asinine thing as that. I think our entire college system should be looked at and determined what is required education and what is just mandatory fluff. We have people teaching law that have never practiced law and they are giving out degrees. We have people teaching accounting that have never been and accountant. Political Science? What the heck is that? I could see if we had politicans teaching it and a person was interested in being a practicing politics was a student. The joke is what do you do with a degree in political science? Teach others political science. I know there are exceptions to what I have stated, but I am speaking of the rule not the exception. Is KU still showing porn in class for college credit? Yeah....we better fund that. LOL!

Kawatchi 8 years, 4 months ago

The real question is: What is the cost of NOT hiring quality coaches, especially in football and basketball, the biggest revenue generators in the department? It's pretty clear that the football and basketball programs at KU are important to the university and the city. If we don't pay market value for coaches, it's more than the football team that loses out.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 3 months ago

Bread and circuses; not a big deal and an ancient tradition. KU suffers because the legislature does not see adequate funding as a priority. It has nothing to do with athletic success or failure.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

Top 10 University Endowments in the US-- I would say only 3, maybe 4, of these are anything approaching athletic powerhouses.

Rank Institution Endowment 1. Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.) 25,221,804,000 2. Yale University (New Haven, Conn.) 15,091,021,000 3. Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford, Calif.) 12,205,035,000 3. Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.) 11,200,000,000 5. Univ. of Texas System Administration (Austin, Tex.) 11,101,608,088 6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.) 6,712,400,000 7. Columbia University (New York, N.Y.) 5,190,564,000 8. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.) 4,931,338,357 9. Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) 4,454,451,325 10. Washington University (St. Louis, Mo.) 4,383,295,000

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