USA Today has become the home of the salary database. A few years ago the website published the salary data for all the college football head coaches on the FBS level. Then they took a look at what assistant college football coaches made. Last evening they posted a list of salaries for the men and women who employ those football coaches — the FBS athletic directors.
A number of private institutions would not share their salary information with USA Today. In those instances, the website turned to the schools’ tax returns. In addition, the salaries revealed include lump sum payments, built-in bonuses, and other extras that might not be part of an AD’s year-in, year-out take-home pay. Add it up, however, and you still have the closest thing to a true list of athletic directors’ salaries that’s ever been published.
In all, there are nine schools that pay their athletic directors more than one million dollars. They are: Florida, Louisville, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin. Vanderbilt’s David Williams, in fact, has the top salary number in the entire country. But — and this is a pretty big but — USA Today had to use federal tax returns to find out what the Commodores’ AD makes. The return they saw had Williams being compensated as “vice chancellor for university affairs and athletics; general counsel and university secretary for Vanderbilt and its medical center; tenured law professor.” Williams is no longer the general counsel and university secretary. His whopping $3,000,000+ salary also included a “$2,009,952 distribution during the 2010 calendar year of money accrued in a supplemental executive retirement plan that was part of Williams’ initial offer to join the university in 2000.”
Below is as list of salaries for the SEC’s athletic directors. While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, USA Today’s post is about as close as anyone will ever come to compiling such a list:
| Athletic Director
| David Williams
| Jeremy Foley
| Jeff Long
| Dave Hart
| Eric Hyman
|| Texas A&M
| Joe Alleva
| Ray Tanner
|| S. Carolina
| Mike Alden
| Mitch Barnhart
| Jay Jacobs
| Mal Moore
| Greg McGarity
| Scott Stricklin
|| Miss. State
| Ross Bjork
|| Ole Miss
* Taking away Williams’ retirement bonus, Vandy’s AD would still rank towards the top of the Southeastern Conference in salary. He has given up the roles of general counsel and university secretary and taken on the title of athletic director, but it’s doubtful Williams would have OK’d that switch had his pay not stayed in the same relative ballpark.
* It’s not necessarily surprising that two of the top five ADs in salary — Hart and Hyman — recently moved from one SEC school to another. Want to lure someone away from a rival institution? Get out the checkbook. Hart left his alma mater Alabama for Tennessee. Hyman left South Carolina for Texas A&M.
* Hart was the #2 to Mal Moore at Alabama, but depending on who you talk to he was actually doing as much or more of the day-to-day running of the program than Moore was. In Knoxville, he also inherited an athletic department in turmoil (combining the men’s and women’s programs, massive debt, communications issues between athletics and university brass). Knowing some of that going in, Hart might have thrown out a high number to begin negotiations.
* Tanner, South Carolina’s former baseball coach, walked away from a championship-level program to take over the Gamecocks’ entire athletic department. As a first-year AD he’s making top-half-of-the-SEC money.
* Kentucky’s Mitch Barnhart makes just $654,000 despite the fact that he’s the man who brought in John Calipari to return the Wildcats to the top of the basketball world. Of course, he’s also the man who hired Billy Gillispie and Joker Phillips. If it turns out Barnhart hit a home run with new football coach Mark Stoops, expect UK’s AD to get a bump in the coming years.
* Auburn’s Jay Jacobs is actually making more than Alabama’s Mal Moore according to USA Today’s data. Moore presides over the first true dynasty in college football in decades. Jacobs’ job security might just be tied to that of struggling basketball coach Tony Barbee, whom Jacobs’ hired. Less than two years ago, Jacobs was riding pretty high. His “what the hell?” hire of Gene Chizik had resulted in a BCS trophy and he’d helped steer AU through a lengthy NCAA look-see into the Cam Newton affair. Now his hoops program is at its lowest point since the 1940s, he’s bringing in another football coach, and a growing number of Tiger fans are calling for his ouster. The fact that he makes more cash than Moore will only anger the anti-Jacobs crowd more.
* Perhaps we now see why Georgia’s McGarity is a bigger fan of bonuses clauses than he is raises. UGA’s AD has made it clear that he believes in trying to hold his coaches’ feet to the fire and that only excellence will be rewarded with extensions and raises. After serving as Foley’s #2 at Florida for years, McGarity came back to his alma mater for little more than a half-million bucks per year. We know, “Poor fella.” But in SEC terms, McGarity’s salary puts him ahead of only the two Mississippi athletic directors.
* It’s no shock to find the ADs at Mississippi State and Ole Miss on the bottom of the list. Those two schools also have the smallest overall athletic budgets in the conference according to annual Department of Education reports. UM and MSU might reside in the SEC and rake in millions from the league’s twin television contracts with CBS and ESPN, but they’re still the have-nots of the SEC. From coaches to athletic directors to facilities, the Bulldogs and Rebels just don’t have as much cash to throw around as their neighbors. That makes the jobs of Stricklin and Bjork that much tougher.