Something’s gotta give.

Those excise taxes on huge coaches’ salaries aren’t going to pay themselves, peeps.

Another byproduct of the new legislation is a provision (Section 4960) that forces tax-exempt organizations like many of the colleges and universities across the country to pay an excise tax of 21 percent on the top five highest paid employees who make a salary of $1 million or more.

In most cases, that would include athletics directors and coaches who are sometimes the highest paid employees in the state.

Nick Saban is the highest paid coach in the FBS last season with a salary of $11.3 million. Under the new tax provision, Alabama would be on the hook for an estimated $2.3 million a year in excise taxes.

The issue stretches beyond Alabama. Last season, 78 coaches made at least $1 million. There were also 15 assistant coaches who made more than $1 million last season, led by LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda ($1.8 million), and a handful of athletics directors who wer paid more than $1 million as well.

How schools will offset the excise tax is another piece of the overall puzzle that no one seems to have an answer for at the moment. Some of it, unfortunately, could come in the form of cuts to programs. Then there are some more extreme measures, some of which involve third-party sponsorship.

“I think that schools are going to look at, ‘Can I get a shoe company to pay part of this?’” McMillen said. “I mean there is probably some workaround, but whatever they are, there’s probably a price to pay. You don’t want your football coach being paid by shoe companies.”

Well, except when you do.  But I digress.

Kirby’s gonna be in a pretty high tax bracket when the dust settles.  Mel Tucker just pole vaulted over the $1 million a year mark.  Presuming success continues for the football program, he’ll soon be joined by other assistants.  Sounds like another rainy day storm heading our way.  No doubt McGarity is on the mother as I type this.

Of course, instead of giving us another mealy-mouthed explanation for the coming bump in 2019, Butts-Mehre could always get a little creative, like this.  Probably not very Georgia Way-ish, though.  Too fan friendly.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

View from the outside, looking in

Always interesting to see the perspective of the Georgia program from the vantage point of other teams, so here’s an early look at the Dawgs’ 2018 prospects posted at the Kentucky Rivals site.

Previewing UGA’s 2018: Fromm is an excellent place for Georgia to start, because while UGA loses Michel, Chubb and leading receiver Javon Wims, a lot of talent returns on the outside and it looks like the Bulldogs should be able to do what they want on offense against most opponents once again. It should be another balanced, efficient attack.

Still, between players like defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter, linebacker D’Andre Walker and cornerback Deandre Baker, the defense still has an embarrassment of high-end talent that should again be one of the SEC’s better units.

Smart’s ability to elevate Georgia a notch or two up the national ladder in two years was impressive, but also a testament to the way his predecessor recruited. But as good as Mark Richt recruited, he never recruited the way Smart is recruiting now. This is a Georgia team with some big shoes to fill, but some big talents to fill them. And they are quickly building more and better quality depth at almost all positions than they have had in a very long time.

In short, they’re the easy favorites to win the East, a leading contender to reach the College Football Playoff for the second straight year, and they’re arguably set up to be one of college football’s two best programs for the foreseeable future.

Georgia might be able to get to 6-0 on cruise control next year. They play Austin Peay, South Carolina, Middle Tennessee, Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt in the first half of the season. Unless South Carolina or Missouri can pull a shocking upset, UGA should be a popular playoff pick by midseason.

The second half is a little more tricky with games LSU, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, UMass and archrival Georgia Tech. But there’s no Alabama or Mississippi State, and the best team on their schedule (Auburn) has to play Between the Hedges. The schedule sets up well for Smart’s third team.

I can live with that.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Musical palate cleanser, still bringin’ it edition

I saw Delbert McClinton again last night at the Variety Playhouse.  For a man in his late seventies who’s had heart bypass surgery, he’s remarkable.  Show was great.

Here’s one of the songs he performed, “New York City”, shown here in a very different setting, the annual Sandy Beaches Cruise he sponsors.

The band was just as tight last night as what you hear there.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Commit to the paycheck

The days of Mark Richt coming out of his own pocket to pay bonuses to his assistant coaches are definitely in Georgia’s rear-view mirror now.

The run to the national championship has indeed become a financial boon to the staff of football coach Kirby Smart, whose 10 on-field assistant coaches will earn a combined total of nearly $2 million more than last year.

The highlights on the new salary pool for the 10 assistants, which is $6.42 million, up from $4.56 million:

  • Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has received a raise to $1.5 million, up from $900,000 last year. Georgia’s defense was one of the best in the country last season.
  • Assistant coach James Coley, expected to move from receivers coach to another position, has been bumped to $850,000 from $450,000 last year. Coley turned down a job offer from Texas A&M to become offensive coordinator.
  • Offensive line coach Sam Pittman will now earn $825,000 after earning $660,000 last year.
  • Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney received a $100,000 raise, and will now earn $950,000.

Strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Sinclair also received a significant bump, and will now earn $450,000. Sinclair earned $300,000 last year.

Here is the outlay for the 2018 staff, and what it earned in 2017:

2018 staff: $6.42 million

Mel Tucker, $1,500,000
Jim Chaney, $950,000
James Coley, $850,000
Sam Pittman, $825,000
Dell McGee, $550,000
Tray Scott, $420,000
Cortez Hankton, $375,000
Glenn Schumann, $325,000
Dan Lanning, $325,000
Scott Fountain, $300,000

2017 staff: $4.56 million

Mel Tucker, $900,000
Jim Chaney, $850,000
Sam Pittman, $660,000
James Coley, $450,000
Tray Scott, $400,000
Kevin Sherrer, $375,000
Dell McGee, $350,000
Shane Beamer, $300,000
Glenn Schumann, $275,000

Throw in the pay bumps to the S&C staff

Including the strength and conditioning staff assistant salaries — Ed Ellis ($180,980), Jamil Walker ($101,125), Rodney Prince ($90,000) and Ben Sowders ($85,000) — Georgia is paying its football assistants just over $7 million in 2018.

… and you’re talking about some real money.

Now, some of the bump can be attributed to adding a tenth member to the coaching staff, but there’s no denying that Tucker and Coley are the recipients of some sweet increases there.

Should we assume that the rest of the $6.6 million McGarity is raising with the season ticket price increase will go to Kirby?  If so, that would put him roughly in the $8 million dollar a year arena.  (At least that’s what I would argue if I were Jimmy Sexton.  Hey, I mean, it’s what the man said, right?)

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

Ring bling

Behold, the SEC Championship Ring, in all its encrusted glory:

Herff Jones and University of Georgia Partner to Create SEC Championship Ring – Herffjones.com

Yeah, it’s gaudy, but that’s how those things roll.  The main thing is the big ‘ole “G” sitting in the middle there.  (I kind of like Auburn’s ass-whipping being immortalized, too.)

Hopefully, we won’t find any of these bad boys gracing the pages of eBay in the coming years.

(h/t)

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stylin'

The Auburn Way

Would it surprise you to learn this?

The new batch of data was unambiguous. Half of the students in one major were athletes. One in three black players on Auburn’s football team was enrolled in the program.

Rather than question how this might have happened, the university’s provost instead offered a plan: Create more programs like it.

“The following report points to the need for more majors that have enough elective courses etc.,” Timothy R. Boosinger, the provost at the time, wrote in the late winter of 2015 to G. Jay Gogue, who was then the president. So many athletes concentrated in one major — public administration — can attract controversy, and it did. Offering more programs with similarly flexible requirements would, Boosinger implied, solve the problem.

The provost assured the president that those other programs were in the works, and that he had met with Jay Jacobs, who was then the athletic director, “to discuss the new offerings that are in the pipeline.”

The email and other communications obtained by The Chronicle suggest an openness among Auburn’s academic leaders to tailor a curriculum for the specific benefit of athletes, privately discussing the creation of new majors that would best serve a small but high-profile segment of the student body. These discussions demonstrate the power of athletic interests at universities with big-time sports programs and the quiet ways in which they put pressure on the academic enterprise.

Nah, I didn’t think so.  Well, then, what about this?

The athletics department’s interest in public administration was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in 2015. Faculty committees had voted to discontinue the program after its centrality to the department’s educational mission was questioned. But Auburn kept the major after a lobbying effort from athletics officials, who at one point offered money to keep it afloat.

Okay, no surprise there.

Auburn officials say that no money came from athletics.

Hmm.

And the punchline…

In response to questions from The Chronicle, the university said that the athletics department does not unduly influence curricular decisions.

“The shared governance system at Auburn serves as a type of internal watchdog, guarding against the very type of situation at the center of your questioning,” C. Michael Clardy, a university spokesman, wrote in an email. “We as an institution are committed to the integrity and rigor of our academic programs.”

Well, that’s a relief.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Auburn's Cast of Thousands

Apocalypse now?

Those of you convinced that market-based player compensation will be the death of college athletics as we know it may be on to something.

Just not in the way you think.

If you take these articles in ESPN and Yahoo about the college basketball corruption criminal case at face value, the open market won’t be the cause of death.  It’ll be the black market.

“This goes a lot deeper in college basketball than four corrupt assistant coaches,” said a source who has been briefed on the details of the case. “When this all comes out, Hall of Fame coaches should be scared, lottery picks won’t be eligible to play and almost half of the 16 teams the NCAA showed on its initial NCAA tournament show this weekend should worry about their appearance being vacated.”

There’s a general expectation that this information will be released. It could come in trial, pre-trial motions or released by the government at some point. (No one is certain if they’ve agreed to eventually give it to the NCAA if it doesn’t go public.)

So how bad could be it? In terms of NCAA rules, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports that the material obtained threatens the fundamental structure and integrity of the sport, as there’s potentially as many 50 college basketball programs that could end up compromised in some way.

It’s not that anyone’s going to jail, son.  My gut feeling is that leaks like these are an indication of desperation on the government’s part that things are falling apart.  I mean, let’s not forget that “A Wall Street Journal report about an undercover FBI agent under investigation and a motion filed revealing a paperwork error appeared to poke some holes in the case.”  This is kind of amusing, too.

Sources close to the investigation told ESPN that Augustine’s charges were dismissed because evidence showed that he never gave the money he received from the defendants to a high school player they wanted to sign with Miami. Instead, Augustine kept the money for himself.

Even so, that hardly lets the NCAA off the hook.  As we well know, what isn’t criminal can still be a major NCAA violation.  And if things sweep as broadly as these reports hint they do, what’s going to happen when tourney fields get mowed down, particularly at the upper echelon?

The problem here is that the schools and the NCAA aren’t in control of the investigation.  So when the dirt comes out as we know it will, eventually, it won’t come out in a way that allows Mark Emmert and the conference commissioners to direct the narrative.  (On the plus side, maybe this is just the ticket that gets Mark Fox and Georgia in the tournament. I keed, I keed… I think.)

I don’t think you can lose eight of the top sixteen teams and pretend that business as usual remains in effect.  This may wind up being what forces the NCAA to confront the flaws in an amateurism protocol that’s increasing harder to defend.  Or worse, what forces others to force the NCAA to confront those flaws.

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Filed under The NCAA