Blown away, indeed: the SEC’s nouveau riche

The AP makes it sound so innocuous.

Tennessee will pay more than $5.3 million to its football coaches in 2009…

The previous staff under Phillip Fulmer was set to make a combined $4.7 million in 2009.

That’s just a piddlin’ little $600K bump, right?

It is, until you break it down and realize that UT will be paying Junior a lot less than it was scheduled to pay Fulmer.  The rest will be going to the Bestest Assistant Coaching Staff Assembled In The History Of College Football Evah.

The Vols will pay their nine position coaches a total of $3.625 million in 2009, which includes a $300,000 retention bonus that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will receive on Dec. 31 of this year.

That’s about $1.7 million more than Tennessee paid its nine assistants last season, although head coach Lane Kiffin ($2 million) is making $550,000 less than former head coach Phillip Fulmer ($2.55 million) would have made in 2009 under his old contract.

Alabama’s nine assistants were the highest-paid group in the SEC a year ago at $2.4 million, but Tennessee’s new salary structure blows that figure away.

That $300,000 retention bonus is classic, by the way.  How long had Daddy been on the job at that point, a couple of weeks?

They can’t spend that new TV money fast enough in Knoxville.  The AD is patting himself on the back for pulling out his checkbook…

“While our coaches’ salary model is unique, we feel it is a great model for Tennessee,” Hamilton said. “Coach Kiffin understands the power of putting together a great team, and he used the budget we provided to assemble what many will consider to be the best staff in America.”

… while others fret.

… Conservative estimates say there will be a $4.4 million reduction in faculty salaries across the board at Tennessee due to budget cuts.

“That was the figure we were working with before Christmas,” Nolt said. “The situation has gotten worse since then.”

So when Nolt saw the staggering dollar amounts Thursday being paid to the Vols’ new football assistants, his heart sank.

Yes, he realizes that the athletic department at Tennessee is self-sufficient and that the budgets are entirely separate. Yes, he understands that the athletic department already contributes money to the academic side. And, yes, he accepts that it’s an arms race that has gripped all of college sports and isn’t merely confined to Tennessee.

“But it’s still hard to take when we’re losing positions and colleagues all across the university because of the budget constraints we’re under,” Nolt said. “It’s a huge disparity, to see academics starved while there’s that kind of wealth in athletics.

“I don’t want to be perceived as somebody standing out there looking for a handout, because the athletic department does a lot of good at this university. I don’t want to downplay that. But to see coaches’ salaries go up like this and know how much we’re hurting here on the academic side, the central function of this university, that’s not right.”

Somewhat of a cheap shot?  Sure.  But in these times, it still resonates.  And it will resonate even more if Junior doesn’t get things moving in the right direction pretty quickly.

Of course, they can always spend more money on the next staff if that happens.


UPDATE: Keepin’ up with the Kiffins.

This is what passes for creative bookkeeping in Columbia, I guess.

… That ripple has forced Hyman to get creative with assistants’ contracts. Hyman maintained his policy of awarding multi-year deals only to coordinators, although USC created titles to give three-year contracts to offensive line coach Eric Wolford (run-game coordinator) and safeties coach Lorenzo Ward (defensive coordinator).


UPDATE #2: The Wiz points out those numbers don’t include what UT’s shelling out for its brand new strength and conditioning coach.


Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, It's Just Bidness

9 responses to “Blown away, indeed: the SEC’s nouveau riche

  1. baltimore dawg

    “salary model”? puh-lease. like all this is simply part of a well thought-out business plan.

    as an academic, i’m as disturbed as anyone by the athletic arms race that does, in fact, siphon off resources from institutions in the form of huge indirect costs (even for the most revenue-rich athletic programs, to say nothing of the vast majority of those that are never or rarely self-supporting, which routinely get general funds). but i also have to point out that the sec tv contract will be more than a bonanza for the athletic programs of the member institutions since several of them have already indicated that they will effectively “tax” those revenues to support academic programs.


  2. SLH

    I see you’ve shifted the smiley face from the upper right-hand corner to the bottom middle.

    Why did you do that? Didn’t think anyone would notice huh?


  3. mp

    “That $300,000 retention bonus is classic, by the way. How long had Daddy been on the job at that point, a couple of weeks?”

    The $300k bonus to Monte appears that it will be paid on 12/31/09, not that it was paid on 12/31/08.


  4. Doc

    A 52 year old graduate assistant…..nice!


  5. Dog in Fla

    “Havana Comes to Knoxville” reality show scheduled to start in Fall 2009.

    Role of Batista to be played by Kiffin padre. Understudy will be Kiffin nino.

    Assistant coaching staff assembled by padre y nino Batista will audition during season for role of Castro.


  6. joe

    Well these salaries are justified, just look at what this staff at UT did last season…uh…check that. They haven’t done ANYTHING with the exception of jr. talking crap about other teams in the news. Whereas Phil and staff was a slow moving train wreck, jr and co. could be riding that bullet train to disaster.


  7. SSB Charley

    Senator, I just read this column on IU’s (relatively) new president and thought about how his comments on having to spend time on athletics contrasted with the mission/desperation at Knoxvegas to win at all costs. Certainly gives me the impression that he’s a bit more concerned with the central mission of the university.


  8. MJ

    I don’t see it as a cheap shot at all, Senator. While I have no problem with a guy making a buck or two based upon market value, it doesn’t seem right that others participating in the same system are not getting paid according to market value as well.

    Plus, the very institution that allows the sport to be played lays off people who carry out the core mission while the football coaching staff enjoys the fruits of entertainment dollars.

    Seems pretty one-sided to me. If there is a cheap shot, it’s the other way around.