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

SSI gator

February 9th, 2010
12:47 pm

Evans = Shreveport

Foley = Three Football NC and two Basketball NC

Something is very wrong with this picture.

Paul in RDU

February 9th, 2010
12:48 pm

123456789 – interesting post. Makes me wonder what the cost side of the UGAA would be if it was a real capitalistic business and had to pay the “performers” market rate instead of their pay being capped at tuition + room and board

Jona

February 9th, 2010
12:49 pm

CDAWG

It pays for the athletic facilities.

DawgDawgDawg

February 9th, 2010
12:51 pm

I think it’s funny that a lot of people are making this out to be just a UGA issue/problem…what we’re paying Evans and the rest of the crew is no different than any other school. If people are so concerned about salary amounts and the current state of the economy, why aren’t you boycotting the Falcons and Braves and other pro sports…their salaries could buy health insurance for an entire country.

DAVID: AJC Truth Detector

February 9th, 2010
12:52 pm

IN SPORTs———SHOW ME THE $$$$$$$$$$$……

Jona

February 9th, 2010
12:52 pm

Paul in RDU

They get a free education. And if you’ve put a kid through college you know it ain’t chump change. They could skip college and try and walk on in the NFL.

Andrew

February 9th, 2010
12:53 pm

I’ve met Damon Evans before and he’s a good guy. He is a UGA grad and supporter. He is committed to making this one of the premier collge football programs(again) and he should be rewarded for it. He wants to win which is all that matters at the end of the day.

Hunker Down Dawgs

SEC East Headlines – 2/9/10 « MrSEC.com

February 9th, 2010
12:55 pm

[...] Tennessee, but Georgia is glad to have stolen Kenarious Gates from Kentucky.7.  Athletic director Damon Evans’ $90,000 raise has sparked questions in the Peach State.8.  Anyone remember that Super Bowl-winning coach Sean [...]

DawsonDawg

February 9th, 2010
12:57 pm

Give Richt a 10 year contract with 40% raise so as to secure him. Fire all of the Psychology teachers and give their salaries to Richt for spending money.

SSI gator

February 9th, 2010
1:00 pm

DawsonDawg

I am all for that. Keep him as long as you can.

Paul in RDU

February 9th, 2010
1:01 pm

Jona – As someone who is putting a kid through college right now I know it is not chump change. My point has to do with people posting like UGAA is some kind of standalone capitalistic enterprise that should be completely divorced from the university as a whole – it obviously isn’t. People have posted that rising salaries for the AD, DC, etc is due to supply and demand. If you want the best you have to pay for it. Without good players the team doesn’t win, revenue (attendance and donations) drop and the business becomes unprofitable.

Orr

February 9th, 2010
1:03 pm

They are both overpaid, Grantham and Evans…………………………most coaches and professional athletes are too. How about paying Grantham half of that and if he delivers then give him a huge raise. He hasn’t won anything yet as a Dawg and doesn’t deserve to be one of the highest D.C.s in the country……………not yet anyway.

Tree

February 9th, 2010
1:06 pm

Damon Evans got the raise because the University is profiting from the athletic department. But as a fan, I like to see a national championship before such a monstrous raise is given.

Jona

February 9th, 2010
1:10 pm

Paul in RDU

You could say the UGAA is the advertising arm of the university. Gets the university a lot of ink.

Paul in RDU

February 9th, 2010
1:11 pm

DawgDawgDawg – You are correct – this is an issue for all Div 1 schools not just UGA. It’s just magnified because at the same time the UGAA is making big profits and giving large raises the University is cutting people, dropping spending on journals, etc -

Snoop Dawg

February 9th, 2010
1:11 pm

I know a great way that UGA can strenghen its athletic program while cutting over $3.5M per year in salary: FIRE DEMON EVANS AND DA PREACHA MAN MARKT WRECKED!

Jethro

February 9th, 2010
1:14 pm

Evans = $550,000 a year
Grantham = $750,000 a year
Average 2 income American family = $45,000 a year

123456789

February 9th, 2010
1:16 pm

Paul in RDU:

Be sure you know and understand THE FACTS about the UGA-AA.

It is: a legally-separate/independent, private, revenue-generating,
non-profit 501(c)(3) CORPORATION.

It is has its very own: Officers, Articles of Incoporation, Federal Tax ID reporting number, etc.

It is NOT (IN ANY WAY) a LEGAL entity/subsidiary/division/office…of the University of Georgia.

The University of Georgia itself is a state-owned & controlled unit of the State of Georgia.

The UGA-AA is a PRIVATE CORPORATION.

Dunkley

February 9th, 2010
1:19 pm

” But as a fan, I like to see a national championship before such a monstrous raise is given.”

Those big draw teams like the Tennis and the Equestrian teams have been winning title. Don’t expect a football title on his watch.

Obama's laws of Economics I

February 9th, 2010
1:22 pm

Frankly, Evans did deserve his raise for finally dumping Dooley who had stayed at the party far too long. For that one issue, he deserved his money. I was a student at UGA in the late 60s and early 70s and VD was there toooooooooooo long.

Obamanomics would suggest that all of the SUCCESSFUL $$$ SEC schools give ALL of their revenue to Vandy, SC and KY and MSU, as they “are down trodden”, sad sacks. Poor babies. “It ain’t their fault” , in Obama’s words. Tech tried to siphon some of this money off back in the late 70s when they begged to get back in the SEC and were REJECTED. Ask any former tech players and they will say “true it is.”

It is about the $$$ in the SEC and Evans has grown the UGA largess. Evans has presided over one of the finest facilities top to bottom in the NCAA and a brand name that commands tons and tons of $$$, which is what it is all about. In the south, historically, we have always utilized our sports teams to better showcase the entire school. In the example of UGA,it has paid off, as UGA is a very, very competitive academic school and it has been for MANY years.

Here are three such examples: one family member in the UGA Honors Bus School program graduated and went to grad school at London School of Econ and another went to Bus. Adm MBA school at Duke and yet another went to the Emory MBA school. See? The football/sports money apparently helped BOOST them and their credentials to higher ed. One hand washes the other.

Evans is doing his job.

Go Dogs

Go Dogs and Remember…Money talks and BS walks.

DAVID: AJC Truth Detector

February 9th, 2010
1:23 pm

BILLY………..IT IS CALLED CAPITALISM in sports……..GET OVER IT.

GoJackets

February 9th, 2010
1:23 pm

Its not really a problem with UGA, its a problem at most of the football factories out there. Some schools are a football team, with an academic program on the side, and some are an academic institution with a football program on the side. Football factories usually fall into the former and therefore will naturally spend more money on football as its the face of the university. If you are a teacher and you have a problem with that then you should find a position at another university with different priorities.

DAVID: AJC Truth Detector

February 9th, 2010
1:25 pm

IN SPORTs…College & Pros…….you get the best talent $$$$$ can buy…

Bad Karma

February 9th, 2010
1:26 pm

So? UGA is an upper tier program in sports and academia. You get what you pay for. Falling on one’s knees and bemoaning the economy and the crying and gnashing of teeth over a “recession” as the justification for not giving anyone a raise just does not resonate all that much anymore. Go Dawgs!

IDIOT SEC PLUMBERS/PIPE LAYERS

February 9th, 2010
1:30 pm

123456789, interesting point on the UGA-AA. They can’t have it both ways just b/c they don’t want to pay Bryant. Could be a landmark ruling? I have no legal expertise but sounds like a precedent if appeals decide that it is like a 501c3.

Once again, the UGA grads separate themselves from the Plumbers and Pipe Layers. Not singling out Evans, but there is no way he can look in the mirror and say “I deserve this much” and not be lying to himself. Sure the market will bear that salary and that’s why he got it, but thats a lot of $$ that could support other positions at UGA-AA rather than Mr. Evans having a nice vacation home on Jekyll. This argument can go either way obv, but it would be refreshing to see someone turn down the $ or give it to charity, etc.

More to life than $

TallaDawg92

February 9th, 2010
1:30 pm

I am not implying an answer to this question, but how much would the UGA-AA bring in from boosters (some may EVEN be alumni) if it was just the Bulldogs, not the University of Georgia Bulldogs? Does the University not have any rights to the use of its name for profit?

Also, the biggest reason this country (and the world) is where we are is because too many people over-simplify capitalism, and believe that as long as “the market” dictates it, it MUST be right.

That kind of thinking is how Sarah Palin got nominated, and LOST the election for her party.

Marcel Ledbetter

February 9th, 2010
1:30 pm

no raise is justified when half the world lives on less than a dollar a day.

hammerhead

February 9th, 2010
1:34 pm

“CDAWG” – the vast majority of the profits go toward facility improvements. The University is not paying for the upgrade to Stegeman and the Plaza being developed on the North side of Sanford, the Athletic Association’s “profit” is. The media always implies that profit goes in someone’s back pocket. In any well run organization, profit goes directly back into the product with a small portion of it going to the people who made the organization profitable in the first place. With his raise, Damon has been recognized as a key to the Athletic Dept’s profitability.

1eyedJack

February 9th, 2010
1:39 pm

I love the comments made that police and firemen should get paid more because their job is dangerous. Ok, I agree that being a police or fireman is dangerous and an honorable and respectable job….but it only requires a high school diploma. Therefore the supply of qualified candidates will always outstrip the demand for available jobs which keeps that pay where it is. Also a lot of these jobs are funded by tax dollars which keeps compensation down.

Bottom line is if you are not happy with what you make at your job you have options. You can quit and look for a higher paid position. You can do a great job and hopefully get promoted, or you can go back to school and get an education that qualifies you for better pay.

FLDawg

February 9th, 2010
1:40 pm

hey Bill, what are the chances that Travis Leslie can try out to be WR, he has the potential to be unstoppable, he is 6:4, 220, a prototype WR

123456789

February 9th, 2010
1:41 pm

You see…

when UGAG uses TAXPAYER money to create fraudulent academic programs like UGAG’s infamous “Housing” degree program and similar “basket-weaving” majors to keep the
Semi-Illiterate “student” athlete on the field, so that a separate, private 501(c)(3) corporation called the UGA-AA can earn mega-millions in revenue…TAX-FREE…then it’s nothng but a tax-payer supported FRAUD !!

Then, UGA-AA takes those TAX-FREE mega-millions and expands Sanford, Steg, and Butts-Smear and buys New & Improved coaches, and gives their AD a mega-raise,
for the SOLE PURPOSE of……(wait for it)……generating even more TAX-FREE mega-millions.

Starting to get the picture ??

tellin it how it is

February 9th, 2010
1:42 pm

To quote the great movie known as THE PROGRAM when have you ever seen 90 thousand people show up to see a kid do a d amn chemistry experiment enough said case closed this is the south baby football country learn to deal with it or get the h ell out.

hammerhead

February 9th, 2010
1:43 pm

Orr – “how about paying Grantham half that” – really? Does that have to be explained to you? Do you think Tood Grantham would’ve left the Dallas Cowboys for “half that?”… No, for half that we would’ve had to stick with Willie Martinez or someone as incapable… And, the demand for tickets would plummet, prices would follow suit, contributions would diminish and the whole thing goes downward. Did ANYONE TAKE ECONOMICS?

tellin it how it is

February 9th, 2010
1:43 pm

to quote the great movie THE PROGRAM when have u seen 90 thousand people show up to watch a kid do a d amn chemistry experiment. This is the south baby football country deal with it or get the he ll out case closed

Teddy

February 9th, 2010
1:45 pm

I’v had it. I will make no additional contributions, and I do not expect to lose season tickets. The economy is in a mess and this is the wrong message to send. A 20% raise is steep. The AA will need the money soon, just to operate.

copdawg

February 9th, 2010
1:46 pm

i got to tell you all. i only read russ, the temp mascot posts. they are the greatest and cut to the chase, keep it up russ.

1eyedJack

February 9th, 2010
1:46 pm

Marcel, “half the world” needs to quit overpopulating, get off their lazy butts, get an education and develop what resources they have and quit moaning because someone else has figured it out. That goes for quite a few folks around here too.

GeoffDawg

February 9th, 2010
1:49 pm

I see we have Marcel Ledbetter representing the bedwetting view point.

ugaaccountant

February 9th, 2010
1:50 pm

I’ve never seen anyone bash Damon Evans until this muck-raking paper got envious of a modest raise. This appears to be a new 5 year deal and he’s getting about 20% more than his first contract. I am extremely happy we were able to retain him, he’s a real star in his field.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

February 9th, 2010
1:50 pm

13456789, you show yourself to be an ignorant, whining piece of human trash when you post “ugag”. Most intelligent people stop reading when they see such stupidity

TybeeDawg

February 9th, 2010
1:53 pm

Maybe we should hire some of the physics professors to coach defense….isn’t that a mass and inertia problem?

Jerry Ryan

February 9th, 2010
2:01 pm

Bad timing and Evans should have deferred his raise for a year. There generally weren’t any raises for coaches just new hires this past year. However, after the physics professor gets tenure he is set for life with his contract. If things go south for a coach or athletic director he is fired!

123456789

February 9th, 2010
2:01 pm

Chin Ho…I’m laughing !!!!

Decory Bryant (who spent 2 years learning to walk again) isnt laughing.

tellin it how it is

February 9th, 2010
2:02 pm

plus being a college coach takes way more time and effort than being a college professor half this guys sit on their a ss and do nothing but spit out bs that isnt even on topic. Then they expect u to go through the book and figure things out for urself hell u might as well be teaching urself if they are going to do that and by the way I am a college baseball coach at the D 1 level in which the only degree I need is baseball and with all the camps lessons and salary I tend to pull in around 150k a year range at 26 years old so the fact is I have no problem with the salaries going up looks good for me and the time I put in with young men is way more beneficial than a professor who could give two sh its about them besides sports is life in the US certainly in the south deal with it and move on without the athletes and coaches these schools would not have the attendance that they have. Therefore they would lose more money from tuition. This is where athletics helps academics by the money they bring in because the scholarship money these programs pay out go to the academic world enough said stop crying about the teachers because half of them don’t do anything anyway especially in the state of Georgia.

Bull

February 9th, 2010
2:03 pm

Boy it’s really funny to see all those all white dwag fans and black players who don’t graduate.playing on Saturaday, China and India are laughing out their ass. Their hero Vince D.was as smart as a frog. It’s an insult to students who finish and teach math and science to our kids for $40.00 a year.

hind tit

February 9th, 2010
2:04 pm

the taxpayer and fans are really the ones footing the bill.

gdawginkalamazoo

February 9th, 2010
2:06 pm

The man runs a very profitable business. He deserves the raise. Based on profits he should probably be getting more.

Jona

February 9th, 2010
2:08 pm

$40.00 a year is good money in China and India

Todd - Dacula

February 9th, 2010
2:11 pm

Necessary, no; the right thing to do, yes. Damon is a talented AD and someone would try to grab him, forcing UGA to pay a lot more to retain him.

Heck, our politicians make money and do not repesent the public, more importantly, do not that great of a job; often making decisions that benefit only a few AND no, it is not President Obama’s fault…

123456789

February 9th, 2010
2:12 pm

Perhaps the University of Georgia should……RENT…… their “student” athletes
over to the UGA Athletic Association…for all sports.

By RENTING, the University could earn or “revenue-share” some MEGA-MILLIONS the UGA Athletic Association earns every year on THOSE VERY SAME “STUDENT” ATHLETES ?!

That way, the University could use their new found “Rent Money”
to pay for teacher pay raises, better benefits, fewer furlough days, etc. etc.

Dont remember reports of anyone from the UGA-AA having to tak a furlough day ??

“The student-athletes” are OUR students.” University of Georgia Admissions Office

“The student-athletes” are OUR revenue-stream.” UGA Athletic Assocaition.

UGAG = BS FRAUD