It’s the economy, stupid.

The AJ-C decides to indulge in a little salary bashing with this Steve Hummer piece featuring Andrew Zimbalist.  I don’t know what it is about how the laws of the market should somehow miraculously disappear when it comes to paying coaches, but these guys obviously believe they should.

… How much, then, is too much?

A thorny question, both practically and ethically.

Free marketers always will suggest that competition for talent drives the process.

That, of course, is the view within the coaching ranks, but it also can be heard out there in academia.

According to state figures, the highest-paid professor at Georgia Tech makes $385,000. At Georgia, the top pay is $271,000. That’s the peak. The average, obviously, is less. And aren’t professors the ones who really define the mission of a university?

Steve, ol’ buddy, when a professor can command a $100 a plate ticket, that’s when you’ll start to see salaries match up.

People don’t pay for “missions”.  If they did, sports writers would be paid more for what they write, since that’s the mission of a newspaper’s sports page.

“It comes down to, what is the value system of the culture?” Curry said. “In the value system of this culture, a coach who can go into a high-pressure situation and win big is worth a certain amount of money. If the value system were different, if it were predicated on accomplishment in academics or in social action or other important things, it would be a different system, obviously.”

Curry continued, “People who think coaches and [professional] players are overpaid, they’re in complete control in a free market and they always have been. All they have to do is not go to the games and turn off the television. [Salaries] will go down, that’s just a fact of life. Pay will drop drastically if you keep not watching.”

When Bill Curry winds up as your voice of reason, it’s time to change the subject.

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9 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness

9 responses to “It’s the economy, stupid.

  1. bulldoginexile

    “When Bill Curry winds up as your voice of reason, it’s time to change the subject.”

    Amen, brother. Pass the peas.

  2. NebraskaDawg

    If left alone (i.e. free of govermental constraints, unions, etc.) all of us would be paid what we are actually worth. Those of us with unique skills would be paid the most and on down the line. A top college coach brings in enormous amounts of money to an athletic department and to the university so he should be paid accordingly. If the women’s tennis coach is bringing in the big bucks let he/she make the big bucks.

  3. Hackerdog

    The problem that most people don’t address is the issue of the relative size of the budget. GA Tech has a total budget of $1.1 billion. Resident Instruction accounts for $846 million. The entire athletic department has a budget of $55 million. But those numbers don’t really paint a picture of an out of control athletic tail wagging the academic dog.

    Better to take the small athletic budget, divide it by the smaller number of coaches, compare that to the large academic budget divided by the larger number of professors to get the “crazy” figures that hopefully nobody will ask any questions about.

  4. NCT

    Nebraskadawg, your comment (“all of us would be paid what we are actually worth”) got me thinking. I think we should be careful when we talk about or “worth”. I agree that all of us would be paid what we are worth, so long as we all agree that “worth” is defined by the market. The entire (supposedly) ethical question raised by the Hummer piece is an exercise in begging the question. Most of us would agree that “worth” can be measured in different ways. Depending on what your personal values are, you might believe that preachers, teachers, soldiers, and poets have a great deal of worth to our society, and by and large, you accept that their worths are not well represented by compensation (and are simply thankful that people who value service over money actually exist).

    As is merely alluded to in the Hummer piece (but addressed directly by Curry), the ethical problem (if one exists at all) doesn’t rest with the athletic associations or universities, it rests with the consuming public. And trying to impose a single ethical responsibility on millions of individuals? Good luck with that.

    Let’s write an article on why Dancing With the Stars and The Bachelor make more money than C-SPAN. How much money does the Jonas Brothers’ manager make as compared to the artistic director at the Kennedy Center? Do I attack the Fox Theatre when I have to endure traffic snarls in my neighborhood for “High School: The Musical”, but I can’t see a Mamet play there?

    The article’s very existence supports my criticism. It’s sexier to write about coaches versus professors in tough economic times than it is to look at NASCAR versus Habitat for Humanity.

    • NebraskaDawg

      NCT,
      By “worth” I meant strictly in supply vs. demand for each job. I know that not all jobs are defined by skill alone (i.e. the clergy, police, etc.). Some of us would be paid more and some less. Also for each individual a job is not only pay but would include benefits, family issues, etc. My statement was merely that a winning coach at a large university (i.e. CMR) has a significant value not just for his duties but for what he does for the entire university. What would donations (not to mentions all ticket and clothing sales) to the entire university look like in 10 years if the university dropped football all together.

      • NCT

        I didn’t write the first bit very well. I didn’t mean to suggest that you were looking at things incorrectly. I agree with your points. It’s just your observation got me thinking.

        And certainly, whether it makes any sense or not, attracting attention by having a successful football program attracts more potential students, including more intellectually talented students. Not only does it attract dollars, it attracts better students. Better students plus more dollars = better professors, more prestigious programs, etc.

  5. shane#1

    I newver thjought “Dancing With The Stars” would be discussed on this blog. Is Andrew Zimbalist any relation to Effron Jr. and Stephanie? Anyway, as long as we are discussing the Arts, Effron Sr. was a concert musician, and no, he did not play the Zimbals.

  6. Oneviewdawg

    FWIW, I have been listening to the coach vs. professor discussion for what? 125 years or so.

    The market rules the economics pretty much everywhere except teaching in college where salaries are determined by a set of arcane criteria nobody has a copy of.

    If almost 100,000 folks paid at least $50.00 per ticket (plus, of course, contributions) to hear a biology lecture, then the biology prof would make more money.

    The question begging here is if Mark Richt or Paul Johnson’s salary is a matter of public record (more or less) then why is the head of the English Department not subjected to the same scrutiny or the same demands.

    Coaches are paid what they are paid because the University, because of the demands of fan base and contributors, has no choice.

    That’s the market.

    And Curry is right, as he ought to be, he went to Tech back when it meant something.

  7. NRBQ

    Hummer fancies himself the Faulkner of sports writing.

    As such, since I don’t read the print version, I’m grateful that the online editors rarely present his bloviated bullshit on the AJC.com sports site.