Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Coaches as state employees

So here's an interesting twist on the current economic situation--you know, the one that is affecting almost every state budget, including Connecticut. UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun gets paid $1.7 million a year making him the highest paid state employee in Connecticut.
And a reporter called him on it the other day in a post-game press conference and Calhoun was not too pleased with the line of questioning. (See You Tube video below.)

There is talk every once in a while (usually around the time that a new million dollar plus contract gets negotiated) about the amount of money coaches make but this seems to be a new lens through which to look at the situation.
Not a lens Calhoun was interested in a taking a look through. After he got over his initial lackluster defense (just shut up!) he noted that they bring in $12 million to the university. Of course he meant the combined basketball program. Men's basketball brings in $7.3 million. And its expenses are $2.3 million. In other words, it earns it place.
But is that really the debate? Because Calhoun's program brings in more than it costs, does that merit his salary? After all, a university is supposed to be a non-profit. That philosophy would seem to suggest that it shouldn't matter how much a program earns. After all when a student or students come to the university specifically to study under a certain professor, that professor doesn't go about saying "look how much I make for the university."
Of course athletics lives by different rules and that is what this debate really centers on; the different standards and, of course, the different expectations.

1 comment:

Helen said...

My understanding is that neither Calhoun's or Auriemma's salary comes from "taxpayers" as, I believe, the reporter implied, but from the revenue generated by the teams (by taxpayers, I guess. [g])

Nancy Hogshead Makar is all over the disproportionate salaries in sports - especially on the men's football side. It's just a bad business model. (and, did you see the NYTImes' article about "specialists" earning more than University presidents. - well, DUH!).

It will be intriguing to see how the economic downturn impacts college sports. Will institutions heed Brand and not "blame TItle IX." Will cuts be "proportional" or will the general out-of-whackness of football/men's basketball to the rest of the world be addressed.

As it stands, there are already some fascinating discussions around travel/scheduling/recruiting happening on the women's side. With universities like Stanford taking 10% cuts and Az (or Az St? can't recall) imposing furloughs, life will be very interesting for those who've become used to "business as usual."