Can surging athletics salaries at UGA be justified?

Damon Evans' pay raises difficult questions for some in the UGA community. (Curtis Compton / AJC}

Damon Evans' pay raises difficult questions for some in the UGA community. (Curtis Compton / AJC}

It’s interesting the way folks react to the ever-escalating salaries in college athletics. UGA signs a new defensive coordinator for a whopping $750,000 and hardly anyone blinks. In fact, for some fans of the Dogs it became a sort of point of pride that the deal made Todd Grantham the third-highest paid assistant in the nation. Plus everyone knows UGA’s athletic association is one of the most profitable in the country, so they could afford to pay top dollar.

But Damon Evans, UGA’s athletics director, gets a $90,000 raise in his new five-year contract last week, going from his current $460,000 to $550,000 (with $20,000 annual hikes and a $250,000 longevity bonus built in) and UGA President Michael Adams, who also chairs the athletics board, feels it necessary to defend the move at his monthly news briefing.

Coaches are one thing, I guess, while administrators are viewed differently. And professors are something else again, unfortunately.

Part of the problem with all this spending on the athletics side is that professors and other university workers aren’t getting any raises. Adams acknowledged that renewing Evans’ contract “didn’t fall at the most opportune time.” But he still maintained “it was the right thing to do.”
Adams noted that “the average salary for an AD in the Southeastern Conference is now $532,000 a year, so we’re simply going to be pretty much in line with the rest of our competitors.”

A good point. But some critics just can’t get past the disparity, even though the money going to Evans and other athletic association employees doesn’t come out of the same pot that pays the university’s professors and other workers.

Letter writer Brenda A. Poss conceded in Sunday’s Athens Banner-Herald that Evans’ pay from the UGA athletic association comes from a “different funding source,” but was still “astounded that anyone at UGA needs to receive a raise of $90,000 for a yearly salary of $550,000. Do the math, and you’ll discover that comes out to $1506.85 per day and $45,833 per month. One day of that salary would buy health insurance for someone who can’t afford it. One month of that salary would fund two or three support positions at UGA. In short, it is an excessive amount of money to be paid to anyone for any job under our current conditions.”

Poss asked: “Where are the good will and conscience of the University of Georgia, its athletic association and its athletic boosters? In the midst of a financial crisis, how can this be justified? And if such funds exist, how can our state’s flagship institution justify continuing to cut faculty positions, reducing operating budgets and raising tuition? It is time for a fairer division of the available funds, regardless of their source. It is time to do the right thing.”

In other words, if UGA athletics generates millions, shouldn’t it be the university and its students who benefit, not the coaches and athletics administrators?

Adams noted that the “divergence of athletic salaries relative to academic salaries is the real issue” and said, “I’m concerned long-term about the impact on the academic environment as the disparity between substantial raises in athletics versus no raises in academics becomes more and more pronounced.”

The way things are going in college athletics salaries “is a pace that I don’t think can be retained,” he said. “I don’t think it should be. But we are in a market and we are in a league where we feel the need to be competitive.”

He pointed out that last year the athletic association’s board voted to give $2 million a year to an academic fund that the UGA president controls. And there’s a possibility that athletics could contribute more to academics, he said.

“I don’t think we want to get to the point where we have a wealthy athletic program and a poor university, so long-term I think we’re going to have to take a look at the whole relationship between academic spending and athletic spending,” he said. “This is a nationwide challenge at the Division I-A level. I wish the general public was as excited about a physics professor as they are about a football coordinator, but we don’t seem to be in that market right now.”

Let’s face  it, chances are we never will be. Movie stars make lots more money than researchers battling disease. And while the work faculty members do undoubtedly is more important to the core mission of the state’s flagship university, what happens on the field of Sanford Stadium not only brings in a ton of money to the athletic association, it generates a level of awareness and good will and a sense of identity for UGA in terms of the general public that signing a top physics researcher never could do.

Is there something basically wrong with that picture, or is that just the way it works?

344 comments Add your comment

wiley

February 9th, 2010
12:03 pm

Well if you rednecks keep spending your paychecks on Walmart merchandise…they can afford to keep getting raises…but seriously athletic salaries are rarely affected by the economy. The money is always there because its an entertainment industry. Just like the movies, video games, and porn….people will always find money to spend…thus resulting in increasing salaries.

fedupdawg

February 9th, 2010
12:04 pm

damon evans met him at music city bowl vince said another ray goff turned on vince at first chance guy is not a jermy at florida pay him what adams suggest more next chaptert

Jeff

February 9th, 2010
12:05 pm

You do understand that Mr. Evans is the CEO of a company that generates $84M in sales with a jaw-dropping profit of $45M or 54% profit margin. There are but a handful of companies in the world that wouldn’t kill for those numbers (and some probably do).

j,axdawgfan

February 9th, 2010
12:05 pm

With the headline on the sports page regarding this article, you marvelled that fans upset with Evans raise were not upset with the salary given to our new DC. That would be because of the difference in the perceived value of contributions from each of the two. Obviously, some fans don’t feel that Evans contributes to the degree that his raise is more than their annual salary but DO feel that our new DC has the potential to make significant positive contributions that justify his salary.

It seems simple enough to me.

SIMPLE

February 9th, 2010
12:06 pm

IT”S UGA AND HE” BLACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Opinion

February 9th, 2010
12:06 pm

you dawgies can give all the raises you want……..just don’t steal away Dan Radakovich

Jeff

February 9th, 2010
12:08 pm

To clarify, those numbers I listed (from Forbes) are just for the football program but as has been noted that’s where the money is anyway.

Opinion

February 9th, 2010
12:08 pm

ooo, and one more thing Evans has done nothing for that athletic department other than give raises….how many sec or even national championships do you have under him?? the answer is zero, you should of kept Dooley

Dr. Phil

February 9th, 2010
12:08 pm

And Adams is a movie star, or so he thinks. Adams tossed two million in athletic department revenue to academics. Ohio State gave 100 million. Mike will get my ususal 34 cents again this year.

Bruce Mac

February 9th, 2010
12:11 pm

Oops, actually we have several National Championships under Evans. He is the Athletic Director Moron, not the football coach. Please, think before you post.

exNFLplayer

February 9th, 2010
12:11 pm

The guy is running in what amounts to a very profitable corporation. I agree with the poster above. It is capitalism.

Fridawg

February 9th, 2010
12:11 pm

Gee, surprise! A bunch of college professors at a state school think that Evans salary should be used to pay for somebody else’s health insurance. This is how Obama gets elected…

Dean

February 9th, 2010
12:14 pm

Why doesn’t Evans raise just come from the athletic association if they raise so much money? You guys seem to have it backwards here. Without the academic side of UGA there would be no or never would have been athletic teams. The president and the AD should wait until the economic climate was better before making such acts.

Tom R.

February 9th, 2010
12:15 pm

wiley based on what I am seeing in Walmarts in the E. Cobb area there are a lot of GT “rednecks” supplying themselves with GT gear there as well. If there wasn’t a demand for it, Walmart wouldn’t have it.

Tom R.

February 9th, 2010
12:17 pm

Herschel Talker you are that. And that’s about all.

Dean

February 9th, 2010
12:17 pm

Another very valid argument would be: Why should an assistant coach for a sport make more than the director of the entire athletic department?

[...] recent raise given to Georgia athletic director Damon Evans has stirred debate among Bulldog fans, writes Bill King of The Atlanta [...]

Tom R.

February 9th, 2010
12:19 pm

Opinion think again dumbazz. There are NCs in other sports too. Moron! When GT can touch UGA’s all around athletic program come back and say something that’s not totally ignorant.

A-Dawg-Fan

February 9th, 2010
12:19 pm

The University runs an entertainment business (UGA Athletics) and an educational institution. The economics are completely different. Think about this. UGA Athletics had three guys drafted in the first day last year. Pretty successful. UGA Physics Dept. graduated three new physics teachers for the state of GA. Pretty dismal.

If you want to be in the NFL or play major league baseball, UGA is a good place to be, and the NBA farm team is coming. None of us invented this system (and Adams would like to change it) but it is the current system and UGA excels at it.

No one wants to spend the time and effort to get a physics degree so they can take a teaching job. Low pay, no respect, ride kids and parents, bad benefits. I’ll bet the three teachers that graduated decide to follow a different career direction.

What it comes down to is our society doesn’t respect teachers. We say things like, ‘Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.” And we all get upset at the amount we pay in property taxes. With entertainment, it is truly supply and demand. Six Saturdays every fall, 93 thousand screaming fans poor money into the athletic dept. and local businesses. The football players get to feel like gods, and money rains on the athletic program. Damon Evans is the head of that program, and he is compensated for it like the CEO for a fortune 500 company.

My question is different. Is there someone else that could have done a better job for UGA, or is Damon the man? For example, when UGA lost out on the Outback Bowl because the Auburn AD did a successful lobbying job, where was Damon? Did he just concede that the number one football program in America needed to go do Shrevport, or was he down in FL fighting for his team?

Also, where was the demand for Damon’s services? Where other athletic departments trying to hire him away? What or who were the threats? Or, did the Athletic program just rubber stamp a renewal and not consider the value they were obtaining for a half million dollars per year?

Bruce Mac

February 9th, 2010
12:20 pm

Pay scale, pure and simple. Pay Scale for coordinators is higher than Athletic Directors. Why should Brad Pitt make more than the owner of Universal Studios? Because he does. All pay for Evans comes from Athletic Association and if football clean up is not paid by Athletic Department that is wrong.

Jan Kemp

February 9th, 2010
12:20 pm

I agree, it’s a travesty. I say get rid of all non revenue sports and PAY THE PROFESSORS!, Oh, wait, title IX won’t let us do that. Guess some things just aren’t fair.

AvgUGAfan

February 9th, 2010
12:22 pm

Let the Chinese hire the physics professors. I want my football!

Jona

February 9th, 2010
12:23 pm

Opinion

He has had the nads to start expanding UGA’s schedule out of the southeast in an attempt to make Georgia a nationally known program. Thus, more fans, more UGA licensed goods to be sold adding to the already massive market. Something Vince Dooley would never do.

ButtCrack Bob

February 9th, 2010
12:23 pm

Adams could have told Evans that he appreciates the job he has done but during these hard economic times it just would not be prudent to give him a salary boost when faculty members wont be getting anything. These salary boosts seem to be given when your afraid that some other school will try to lure your guy away. I don’t see where Evans has a track record of doing anything that sets him apart from the rest. He’s not going anywhere because no one was calling for him. Another dumb move by Adams.

REALLY!!

February 9th, 2010
12:25 pm

Brenda Poss = Socialist…Ya think she voted for Obama??
“One day of that salary would buy health insurance for someone who can’t afford it”….REALLY!!!

Dean

February 9th, 2010
12:25 pm

Another question we should ask ourselves is this. How much money goes into Georgia Tech’s athletic department and what is their revenue? Which school is getting more bang for their bucks?

dagnabit

February 9th, 2010
12:26 pm

Where is this athletic dept. located? And is this the University Of Georgia football team? These football players get a free ride where? Just asking.

hunker down

February 9th, 2010
12:26 pm

Asked MR. Adams what his salary is a year and compare it to a fireman, police office or nurse. When your house catches on fire (God forbid) would you rather have a fireman outside your house or Mr Adams your neighbor looking on? I agree that college athletics have gotten out of hand as far as pay for coaches. I do agree with Mr. Adams saying that it is a national problem that needs to be addressed. It can not be done so I feel without approaching it on a national level. For Nick Saban to make $4 million is a deal for UA as football is king cotton in thew state and generates a tremendous amout of income for the University. Especially when you are winning like UA. But what about a school like Tulane that if they want to be competitive in athletics needs to offer comparable salary for their coaching staff as well. Capatialism is at work but that does not mean if Tulane goes out and pays $4 million for a HC that their program will win a NC in the near future nor any other university.

Bruce Mac

February 9th, 2010
12:26 pm

ButtCrack, I do love your name but you are wrong here. Profits are thru the roof, we are winning National Championships in many sports and competing on National Level in all sports. Basketball is in the best shape since Tubby. No serious violations in any sport. On and on, Mr. Evans could not be doing a better job.

Dog Fan

February 9th, 2010
12:27 pm

Because one guy writes an article, that means “folks” are upset witht Evan’s raise?
Trying to stir something up again Bill?
When you do this, is this coming from your higher ups? or are you just board?

BPClassof-85

February 9th, 2010
12:27 pm

It does come down to supply and demand, and that’s why the coaches get those unbelievable salaries. But what has Damon done that warrants that type of raise that any other middle of the road A.D. in the country could not have done, and most of all, are we afraid somebody is going to come in and give him a better offer???? That’s why you bump the most successful coaches salaries, because you don’t want them to be lured away. No other schools are lurking around, trying to think of the master plan to get Damon. Trust me!!

Observor

February 9th, 2010
12:29 pm

Seems the dogs sure pay a lot of money for a 2nd tier product.

Paul in RDU

February 9th, 2010
12:29 pm

Bill – excellent and thoughtful post by you.
The UGAA is a highly profitable business mainly due to the success of the football program. Their business model seems to be spending money on the program (good coaches, facilities, etc) = wins = more demand for tickets (higher prices) + more donations to the AA = more profits. Paying the coaches large amounts to compete with ALA, UF, etc. is perfectly logical.

To me, it becomes interesting when you consider the sources of UGAA’s revenues – tickets, broadcasting, merchandise and donations. Ticket money and broadcasting is obviously to for the games. What about merchandising? Why does the UGAA own the rights? Why not the school?
Then you have donations. I understand that donations to the AA give you priority on tickets, parking for games, etc. but why not share these?

dagnabit

February 9th, 2010
12:30 pm

Does frediwg have healthcare insurance? Do you deny healthcare to others? Like the republicans.

CatsFly

February 9th, 2010
12:30 pm

I think UGa should spend even more on athletics so as to assure that our U is second-to-none when it comes to athletics. After all, isn’t athletics the center piece of out university. Are we (the University) known for anything else outside of Georgia?

Jona

February 9th, 2010
12:31 pm

dagnabit

NCAA

1eyedJack

February 9th, 2010
12:31 pm

First of all let me qualify myself. I AM a college instructor in Georgia. I DO NOT make 500K a year. I AM NOT upset about this.

The coaches and administrators and the professors/institutional employees are not paid from all the same money.

Coaches and Administrators are paid a base salary from government funded money. The salary range is based on qualifications and experience. The Athletics department makes up the remainder of the pay.

Teachers are paid from State funds (taxes and lottery) and local funds (tuition and donations/grants).

It is “guns or butter” or “supply and demand” in economics terms. Basically what the market will bear.

If I want to be paid commensurate with Coaches or Administrators then I should get an education that prepares me for coaching or administering and go into coaching or administration.

SLK 65

February 9th, 2010
12:32 pm

The women that wrote that must be poor or out of a job. They are always the ones crying about people making to much money and the bad economy. the economy is not bad for everyone, just the ones that don’t have jobs.

UGA-72

February 9th, 2010
12:33 pm

Look, if Damon leaves, I’ll take the job and do it for $450M a year.

Dean

February 9th, 2010
12:33 pm

Can someone not make a point without it all being the evil of one political party or another.
ButtCrack is correct. Damon wasn’t going anywhere. He could of been given a pat on the back and a promise that once the economy improved he would get a substantial raise. Brenda Poss comes from a great UGA football family. Her comment about his salary covering someones health insurance should be concerning. You can deride that all you want but it’s a very logical argument to make.

Barack Dawg

February 9th, 2010
12:34 pm

What sports related personnel make is separate than the UGA academic personnel. Academics is funded with tax payer dollars and tuition. Damon Evans and company are paid by the Athletic Foundation, with not ties to the tax payer, public funds, or the academic budget.

If they want more then perform better. That is what the pay for the athletics is about. If Damon Evans does not get it done, he gets fired. How many professors were fired because they can’t teach? None – as long as they publish they are kept around.

If you don’t like it – don’t buy season tickets and don’t go to the game. College Athletics is no different than Professional sports. If you don’t go and pay then the salaries won’t rise. But if you are watching and paying for it, then someone has to get the money.

Bruce Mac

February 9th, 2010
12:35 pm

I think frdwg would tell you, yes he has heatlh insurance. He pays for it and so can you. What is wrong with that? The question is why should we pay $1.3 Billion for your health care when all you have to do is go to emergency room and tell them you can’t pay. They take care of it free now. The people have figured it out, a change is a comin.

CDAWG

February 9th, 2010
12:36 pm

My daughter is a student at UGA and I cannot afford the tickets to watch the dawgs play.

AVGUGAfan, I know that you are somewhat joking this is becoming a real problem for the USA. We are falling behind in the technical arena. Other Countries are pulling ahead of us.

Jona

February 9th, 2010
12:38 pm

Dean

My car payment could pay someone else’s health care. What’s your point?

FalconUGAFan

February 9th, 2010
12:40 pm

What SLK 65 said. Bottom line is our society (and the global BTW) value jobs differently. Police, teachers and anyone that is a public servants (besides community organizer types) are not paid as they should be. Athletic and celebrity types are always paid better. Don’t like it move to a Communist state or don’t watch the events that foster this type of pay.

CDAWG

February 9th, 2010
12:42 pm

Hey where does all the profit go that UGA generates? Just curious!

dagnabit isn't very smart

February 9th, 2010
12:43 pm

The Rebublicans expect people to earn what they receive. Democrats want you to be dependant on the State so they can rule your life.

Old Dawg

February 9th, 2010
12:43 pm

JacketFan: it’s “Know,” not “no.” Learn proper word usage before blasting someone.

123456789

February 9th, 2010
12:43 pm

UGA-AA is simply an “Employee-Leasing” entity.

VentingDawg

February 9th, 2010
12:44 pm

By law in the state of Georgia the Athletic Departments are self funded! End of story! If the funds came through the university then that’s a different story. If Mrs. Poss is concerned about the school’s funding the tell her to go raise the private contributions for the University. Personally we will not give a dime to the school until Adams is gone! All our contributions go to school auxiliaries like the Athletic Department! It they chose to give some surplus to school then that’s fine. However if that becomes expected or a large chunk each year then I’ll consider cutting that off too! If enough of the Dawg Nation does that then that’ll get somebody’s attention!