Bread, Circuses, but mostly Circuses.

You may have heard that the highest-paid employee in each state is usually the football coach at the largest state school. This is actually a gross mischaracterization: Sometimes it is the basketball coach.

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22 Responses:

  1. Jesper says:


  2. Ian McKellar says:

    I guess I'm glad my taxes aren't just paying for wars...

    • Pavel Lishin says:

      From the FA:

      So are my hard-earned tax dollars paying these coaches?

      Probably not. The bulk of this coaching money—especially at the big football schools—is paid out of the revenue that the teams generate.

      • Brian B says:

        State revenue is state revenue, or so I'm often told.

        • nooj says:

          You are as wrong as you could possibly be. Okay, not quite that wrong; but pretty wrong.

          • Brian B says:

            Oh, but I AM often told that. Besides, here in TX they have a long history of taking revenue specifically earmarked for some noble purpose and shunting it off to somewhere else. Apparently it's OK to do that with Parks & Wildlife money but not the athletic department.

            • nooj says:

              Sometimes I think TX is as corrupt as IL. We just get away with it (probably because we still have enough income to keep the gears oiled).

              I'm sure that the probability of your money being shunted is directly proportional to the number of lawyers and lobbyists you have on hand.

  3. Chet says:

    I was surprised, as a graduate of a Southeastern Conference school, to learn that the highest paid coach overall IS NOT a football coach. Duke's basketball coach is over $7,000,000 a year. Before bothering to Google, I would've bet folding money that my alma mater's coach (Hail Saban) would've been at the top, or very close to it, but ISTR he's only getting about $5,000,000.

  4. Chet says:

    Ah, what I missed: Duke's private, so K isn't a state employee.

    • Brian B says:

      He's unusual in that respect, though; somewhere recently I saw a list of the 25 highest-paid college football coaches, and only one (at TCU) was at a private school; Notre Dame, Stanford, Northwestern, Miami weren't represented even though they've had top-25 results in recent years (and ND like forever). I haven't seen a basketball list but I suspect it'd be similarly skewed. Apparently the private sector really does do some things more efficiently.

      • Chet says:

        Well, first, as a college football obsessive, I'll note that ND has been overrated for a really, really long time, and continues to be. They've won TWO bowl games since the 1993 football season, for example, and are more frequently WAY outclassed. The drubbing they got in the championship game this year is something the Irish faithful are used to.

        But your point is taken: few privates compete at an elite level in Division 1-A atheletics. The other thing to note is that, as private institutions, the Notre Dames and USCs and Dukes and Stanfords of the world aren't legally required to disclose what they're paying Brian Kelly or Lane Kiffin or whomever in the same way that Alabama must report Saban's salary. So it's hard to compare.

        Finally, though, it's also probably fair to note that Div 1-A can be split into three main groups where football, at least, is concerned: Participatory, Competitive, and Elite.

        Rice is a great example of the first group.

        The bulk is the second group, and I'll include schools here that have periods of success before losing a star coach or whatever and falling back to their normal level. You'll win some bowl games, lose more, and (probably) have a winning season 8 years out of 10. You'll even see low to middling AP rankings in good years.

        The last group is small. It's the schools where winning big games is THE thing, and is part of the culture. Good years mean top-five finishes. Middling years are top ten/top 15. Bad years are anything else.

        There are LOTS of privates in the first group. There are a bunch in the second. There are almost none in the last. Certainly not the Irish, at least not in the modern era.

  5. nooj says:

    The Texas Tribune keeps an updated list of Texas salaries, as a public records thing: Texas' Government employees, including all The University of Texas at Austin employees. (See also salaries for other Texas agencies.)

    What I'm most intrigued by is all the The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston salaries! They weren't there a year ago. It used to be one lone neurosurgeon among a sea of Head Coaches, Deans, and Professors. I wonder what has been happening with medicine down there lately.

    • Richard says:

      You don't really need to ask that, do you?,9171,2136864,00.html (paywalled) print-to-PDF "archive" (ugh).

      The section "Nonprofit Profitmakers" starting on page 7 of the PDF may provide some clues to the Alert Investigator.

      So, what do these wealthy nonprofits do with all the profit? In a trend similar to what we’ve seen in nonprofit colleges and universities — where there has been an arms race of sorts to use rising tuition to construct buildings and add courses of study — the hospitals improve and expand facilities (despite the fact that the U.S. has more hospital beds than it can fill), buy more equipment, hire more people, offer more services, buy rival hospitals and then raise executive salaries because their operations have gotten so much larger. They keep the upward spiral going by marketing for more patients, raising prices and pushing harder to collect bill payments. Only with health care, the upward spiral is easier to sustain. Health care is seen as even more of a necessity than higher education. And unlike in higher education, in health care there is little price transparency — and far less competition in any given locale even if there were transparency. Besides, a hospital is typically one of the community’s larger employers if not the largest, so there is unlikely to be much local complaining about its burgeoning economic fortunes.

      In December, when the New York Times ran a story about how a deficit deal might threaten hospital payments, Steven Safyer, chief executive of Montefiore Medical Center, a large nonprofit hospital system in the Bronx, complained, "There is no such thing as a cut to a provider that isn’t a cut to a beneficiary ... This is not crying wolf."

      Actually, Safyer seems to be crying wolf to the tune of about $196.8 million, according to the hospital’s latest publicly available tax return. That was his hospital’s operating profit, according to its 2010 return. With $2.586 billion in revenue — of which 99.4% came from patient bills and 0.6% from fundraising events and other charitable contributions — Safyer’s business is more than six times as large as that of the Bronx’s most famous enterprise, the New York Yankees. Surely, without cutting services to beneficiaries, Safyer could cut what have to be some of the Bronx’s better non­Yankee salaries: his own, which was $4,065,000, or those of his chief financial officer ($3,243,000), his executive vice president ($2,220,000) or the head of his dental department ($1,798,000).

      Or just search for the string "profit".

      Questioning a medical system that SAVES BABIES' LIVES is like questioning a security apparatus that 9/11 AMERICAN HEROES YOU DON'T WANT THE TERRORISTS TO WIN or police or firefighter pension scams AMERICAN HERO FIRST RESPONDERS 9/11!


      • nooj says:

        Maybe I missed the point, but most of that was general rhetoric, which has been true for at least two decades. I mean specifically Houston, and specifically UT salaries, and specifically the past three years.

        Now maybe various UTHealth salaries have been rising steadily and I never noticed until they hit the front page. But I suspect a sudden influx. Did Houston's Health expenditures go through the roof without me hearing about it? And specifically, why are two Visiting Professors in the top 25 salaries?

        For example, Rex Marco is a Visiting Associate Prof at UTHealth bringing down a cool $800,000/year from UTHealth. (That's not including travel and expense budgets.) He also has appointments at Baylor College of Medicine (probably unpaid) and Rice (probably paid).

        Now Dr Marco is a dashing guy and probably a fantastic orthopedic surgeon, but what....oh: So he's been on TV a dozen times including an ABC special titled "Growing Bones for Growing Kids After Cancer Surgery."

        Maybe you're right.

        • nooj says:

          nooj> But I suspect a sudden influx.

          Well, the UT Health system did just get a HUGE influx of taxpayer money from a (horrifically ill-advised) bond passed in Austin this year.

  6. Moshev says:

    And by football you surely mean American Rugby (a.k.a handegg), right?