Coach’s pay raise troubles many
Are universities in the business of education or entertainment?
It’s a valid question, and in the wake of a giant pay raise granted to the head football coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it’s a question we need to come to grips with.
Last week the Heels announced a $291,000 raise for football coach Butch Davis, who at that point had just three wins and eight losses in his first season.
It’s only been a year since Davis signed a seven-year contract with UNC. His base salary was $286,000 a year. The university also agreed to pay him supplemental income worth $1 million in 2007, increasing to $1.3 million in 2013. The UNC-CH board of trustees still has to approve the raise, which would bring his compensation to an average of more than $2 million a year, including endorsements from the Nike shoe company and bonuses.
Bill Friday, a former president of the UNC system, thought Davis’ original contract was too much and he feels even stronger about the new one.
Carolina isn’t alone. Coaches not only make far more than professors, they earn a lot more than college presidents, the people who run the entire show. USA Today reported last year that Texas football coach Mack Brown earned four times the amount as Mark Yudorf, the chancellor of the Texas university system. Yudorf earned $693,677. Brown used to coach at UNC.
Even with a 15.7 percent raise approved this year, UNC-CH Chancellor James Moeser and N.C. State University Chancellor James Oblinger earn $390,835. Is a coach worth five times that much?
University officials defend the system. Football and basketball are generally the only sports that generate a positive income for athletics. In Carolina’s case, football and men’s basketball support the other 26 teams that lose money.
But the tide of an arm’s race is taking a toll. UNC’s athletic program is already operating at a deficit — the first in eight years — due to the firing of former coach John Bunting and the hiring of Davis.
Athletic officials contend that the arms race in salaries is something they can’t control. That’s a cop out.
In the end it will take pressure from fans and alumni to end the madness. Without that the situation will get far worse.