The only thing that surprises me about this reasoning is how long it’s taken for somebody to present it.
… William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland and co-chairman of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, said his group was conducting a yearlong study on spending in college athletics. The Knight Commission was formed in 1989 to ensure that college athletics “operate within the educational mission of colleges and universities.” The Knight Commission expects to release its report on spending next spring.
Kirwan said many colleges put themselves in their current financial predicaments because of excessive spending.
“In a lot of ways, I see parallels between the implosion of our economy and the excessive spending in college athletics,” Kirwan said. “There was an assumption that housing prices would always go up and up. You could buy a house and everybody assumed its value would increase. Intercollegiate athletics has lived in this fantasy world and assumed corporate sponsorships and TV contracts would always go up. Now we’re finding out that’s not the case. I think we’ve dug ourselves a huge hole.”
Yeah, aside from those new BCS and SEC and Big Ten TV contracts, it’s all going to hell in a hand basket out there. The big programs can afford the salary increases. It’s the schools that spend money they don’t have, living beyond their means, that have the problems.
According to a recent study by the Chronicle of Higher Education, USC coach Pete Carroll was the highest-paid employee of a U.S. private university in 2006-07. The report said Carroll made $4.4 million that year, about four times as much as USC president Steven B. Sample. The report also found that most of the 10 highest-paid university presidents at schools with Division I football programs made about half of what their schools’ football coaches were being paid.
“There was such an outrage about what corporate CEOs were making and now people are looking at what coaches are making compared to other university personnel, and I think there’s the same concern,” Kirwan said. “I think it’s an outrageous situation…”
The amusing thing about his rant is that it’s the presidents who are electing to pay these monies out to their coaches. (Kirwan’s flagship school, for example, is currently on the hook for a $1 million payment to a head coach-in-waiting if Friedgen doesn’t retire by 2012.) Nobody is holding a gun to their heads. Certainly if you’re a college president who’s signing off on a paycheck to some coach that’s for a considerably greater amount than what you’re getting to cash yourself each month, that’s gotta suck. However, if you’re willing to put up with the consequences, there’s a pretty obvious solution to your plight.
Not that any of ’em have the guts to go through with that. So, instead, we’ll hear more proposals designed to circumvent the free market – revenue sharing (playoffs!) so that the smaller schools can better afford to waste their money and antitrust exemptions so that presidents can collude on what they pay coaches. Because there’s nothing sadder than a university president with an inferiority complex.