Monday, April 28, 2014

Income Inequality on the Football Field

and on the basketball court.  Some of these mentors are pulling in some big bucks to lead high profile amateur athletic programs. Mike Krzyzewski, legendary coach of the Duke University basketball program gets checks totaling $9,682,032 per season. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz pulled in $3,985,000 while directing the football Hawkeyes to an unexciting 5-4 record. Nick Saban led the Crimson Tide in exchange for $5,545,852, undefeated in the regular season. On the other hand, successful North Dakota State paid its basketball coach Saul Phillips a paltry $188,347 and all the potatoes he could eat.

The issue here isn't the pecuniary rewards of the most successful teams in college sports, its the salaries of those in the second tier schools. Take the Minnesota Golden Gopher football program, for instance. An exercise in futility since its remarkable NCAA championship way back in 1960, the Gophers have given a number of coaches an opportunity to change the script. The latest is epileptic Jerry Kill, whose sideline seizures have forced him to do his coaching from the press box. In 2014 Kill himself will be paid $2.1 million, the result of a re-negotiated long-term contract. One of Minnesota's competitors for the lowest rung of the developing BIG conference is Indiana. The Hoosiers, never the winners of a Big Ten title, have been led to a 10-26 record in the three year tenure of Kevin Wilson, who receives $1.2 million per season.

One has to wonder if the strategy of the hapless Gophers and Hoosiers is really the most cost effective one considering the results they've been able to obtain. A different approach might be in order. Rather than scouring the lower ranks of college coaches for one that would be overjoyed to take over a high-profile but failing program, why not just take bids for the position from coaches willing to PAY for the opportunity? There are thousands of coaches at all levels in the country. They all think they have what it takes. If an opening occurred at Bloomington, an enthusiastic coach could talk his friends and associates into pooling the money to buy the position, confident that his inevitable success would lead him to securing a position at another university that would actually pay big bucks that he would then share with his investors. By engaging the high bidder, instead of the coaches salary being a debit on the first school's finances it would become a profit center. Things couldn't be any worse for the Hoosiers and Gophers, they'd have nothing to lose. A coach that could take them to a major bowl game would be next in line for a post at serial under-achiever Tennessee, 4-5 during the 2013 season while paying Butch Jones $4,860,000.

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