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

Farnsworth

February 9th, 2010
2:13 pm

No way it’s justified. It shows how upside down the priorities are in this country.

Big time?? Yes

February 9th, 2010
2:15 pm

The Athletic Dept. is a separate entity. Self funded. A BUSINESS that needs talent to run it.

Big time?? Yes

February 9th, 2010
2:16 pm

And there sure are a lot whiners out there. Maybe you should get another job.

middler and so tired of all the rhetoric :

February 9th, 2010
2:18 pm

The man and program under debate have their jobs because UGA exists. If they give back to UGA fairly, and also bear some of the burden of economic hard times, then no outcry. In this economy raises, if given at a public institution, should not be so out of line with the rest of the world. College football staffs exist in a bubble, pretty much exempt from the economy the rest of us live in. I don’t hear a single one forgoing their hundreds of thousands and/or millions but do hear about their bragging rights of being so highly paid among their colleagues. And Adams leading the way. If UGA did not exist as the prime Georgia training grounds for the NFL some of our athletes and athletic staff would not have jobs, or such high paying jobs, because there are a finite number of such positions…and a lot of people competing for them. The athletic director and athletic programs should up their contributions to the University, not to an endowment program that sits and grows fatter but to keep nonathletic costs down for students and give those infinitesimal raises to faculty and staff. There are institutions doing away with football programs entirely. UGA now touts itself as an Emory and Tech equal in academics, research, and development. You don’t hear Emory or Tech bragging about how much they pay their athletic department members. And kids compete avidly to get in and graduate from them. Regular kids who hope to get regular jobs. Not someone focused on his pro chances who will do nothing for the school or community when they hit the draft, often after just 3 years.

Jose Canseco

February 9th, 2010
2:20 pm

Take away Tennis and Gymnastics and we haven’t won Sh#&. Hell no Evans did not deserve a raise and either does Richt if he cant be the lizards!!

Jona

February 9th, 2010
2:21 pm

123456789

Maybe the university should pay the athletes for all the publicity they generate for the school.

Sounds about as stupid as your statement huh?

1eyedJack

February 9th, 2010
2:22 pm

It’s not what you pay a man, but what he costs you that counts. Now if there is one thing that we do worse than any other nation, it is try and manage somebody else’s affairs.

Diamond Dog's Parole Officer

February 9th, 2010
2:26 pm

Its not like Judge Stephens is biased or anything… Like graduating from UGA Law School. And I’m sure that he doesn’t contribute a dime to UGA or the UGA AA.

Nothing beats a third party, unbiased opinion!

Jan Kemp

February 9th, 2010
2:30 pm

Why do these losers get raises and we cant afford a medical school?

joe

February 9th, 2010
2:31 pm

“I’m not upset with the AD getting a raise. He forced Mark Richt to make a change so that deserves a big raise.”

Damon Evans didn’t force Mark Richt to do a damn thing. Mark Richt firing his defensive coaches was his own doing, not Evans’.

UGA'82

February 9th, 2010
2:31 pm

Several of you have almost hit the nail on the head. College athletics may once have been a amateur competition for university pride but any more Div IA is the AAA Football league for the NFL. As some of you have said, Evans runs a very profitable business. Let’s drop the pretense that student athletes participate, will graduate – though some do, pay these guys the market rate and we’ll all still enjoy seeing them play. There could be state teams but not UGA or GT. We’ll still all hate FLA but it will return universities to what they are supposed to do, educate our children instead of diverting resources away from that core mission with the sideshow that athletics has become.

Hershel

February 9th, 2010
2:34 pm

I want at least one statue for one of my personalities.

Unbiased about UGA

February 9th, 2010
2:36 pm

Other than my taxes that go to support UGA, as long as the Athletic Dept breaks even and takes no tax payers funds, I believe that they bring in more money to the University.

Your 6-Figure Athletic Director Mr. Evans

February 9th, 2010
2:37 pm

Bulldog Faithful:

This is a friendly reminder to pay your assessments for earning the privilege of buying tickets in a very prompt manner.

President Adams wants each of you to know that, just because he and I received raises doesn’t mean we don’t feel your economic pain during these tough times, and we suggest you use your credit cards if cash isn’t an option at this time.

Please do pay up in a prompt manner, and thank you.

rock

February 9th, 2010
2:39 pm

It is not just UGA, most major college athletic programs pour
out money like an “out of control” running faucet. As wasteful
as it is, do not blame the college presidents or the athletic directors. The blame is with the fans and boosters who keep the
faucet running.

GreggJ

February 9th, 2010
2:39 pm

Evans does not deserve a penny more until he can orchestrate at least a BCS championship appearance!

Diamond Dog's Parole Officer

February 9th, 2010
2:40 pm

Right Joe… CMR fired Willie because that’s what he wanted.

What’s next, that Herschel really doesn’t have multiple personality disorder? Or that CMR doesn’t have a spray-on tan clause in his contract?

Wes Stansbury

February 9th, 2010
2:41 pm

Evans is worth every penny and more!

cliff

February 9th, 2010
2:44 pm

Simply NO! NO! NO!

123456789

February 9th, 2010
2:46 pm

Jona: Sad that you cant tell sarcasm when you read it ?

Diamond Dawg: Judge Lawton Stephens is a UGA Alum(1987).

So is Hue Henry, Decory Bryant’s attorney.

1eyedJack

February 9th, 2010
2:47 pm

And wasn’t it on these same blogs just a few short weeks ago people were demanding Richt hire this DC or that DC and pay them what ever they want?

Diamond Dog's Parole Officer

February 9th, 2010
2:48 pm

123456789: Oh, I’m aware that Stephens is a UGA alum. He also frequents M. Adams suite at Sanford (& Son) Stadium.

Per for Performance

February 9th, 2010
2:51 pm

Suppose you won a national championship with coach making a reasonable salary and he was quickly hired to another university because and increase for his accomplishment was not “justified”. The fans would crucify the university.

Damon has earned to be paid at the top levels of AD nationwide. If we don’t pay him, someone will. Then you stand a chance of profits decreasing, the UGA brad deteriating, and fewer students enrolling, budgets continueing to tighten.

The athletic department contributes to the overall university directly and indirectly. Those professors are more likely to get a raise or keep their job because of the work DE does.

Fair and Balanced

February 9th, 2010
2:51 pm

Of course the raise for Evans is crazy! All the coaches salaries are crazy. America’s priorities are crazy. BUT, it is all in what the market can stand – what crazy people are willing to pay for crazy stuff.

Alphare

February 9th, 2010
2:51 pm

Athletic department takes in a lot of money, so UGA lets athletic department operate independently. So the coaches, Damon Evans can be paid monstrously and nobody can complain. Yes, some idiots call that capitalists. Most of those idiots grow up in the south, and their brains can only think 1-way straight, if the logic has a little turn, it will train-wreck their little peanut-size brains.

IRS is the most profitable government identity. Why don’t let IRS operate independent like UGA athletic department?

gdawginkalamazoo

February 9th, 2010
2:54 pm

1eyedJack, yes but that was then, this is now.

brenda

February 9th, 2010
2:55 pm

How in the world can they justify this — when other employees of the University System have been ordered to take 2 more furlough days this year — that’s on top of the furlough days they have already been hit with.

I dare say Damon Evans has no trouble feeding his family or worrying about his house going into foreclosure.

Alphare

February 9th, 2010
2:58 pm

Or let me give those southern rednecks another good example:

Coca Cola Whole-Sale department is the most profitable department. Coke should let their Whole-Sale department operate independently like UGA athletic department, so that its department head can have a monstrous salary hike year after year.

Or, better yet, why UGA athletic department even be part of the university then? why not rename itself some thing like “Athletic Department of the State of Georgia”? that way, they don’t even have to inject any money to the academic department, and instead give all income to the coaches and Damon Evans as salary.

SickandTired

February 9th, 2010
2:59 pm

The games are played on university property. The games are played using university students. Take the association over or disband it and bring the funds into the general fund and tell Mark Richt and the band of thieves in the Butts Mehre they are all now university employees and subject to the same pay scale….either that or tell them to hit the road. End of discussion………they are no better than the professor who teaches animal husbandry. Or wait, that goes on in the Butts Mehre too doesn’t it already?

PT

February 9th, 2010
3:01 pm

123456789 – I don’t care!

Paddy

February 9th, 2010
3:02 pm

I love capitalism, always have. Don’t you?

Dawglasville

February 9th, 2010
3:05 pm

Pay Damon. He has earned it. He hit a homerun with Coach Fox and we will have to wait and see about the defense.

Alphare

February 9th, 2010
3:06 pm

I bet most of the “capitalism” blogger got an UGA education, or never took a class in UGA.

“Capitalism”, what a joke? do you even know what capitalism is?

Your $$ is MY MONEY or else says POTUS

February 9th, 2010
3:19 pm

Athletes in the NBA get paid big $$ and same for baseball, NFL football players and entertainers. The US PUBLIC has created this system. If you do not like seeing so and so with money, then take it. Obama does the same thing with his evil commie taxation schemes. Why not? Leon Trotski and Vladimir Lenin STOLE it and imprisoned the Russians for 100 years. Why not? Same logic. In other words, “they have it, we don’t, so let us TAKE IT” is the cry. Right???

Do not view sports events in person or watch TV or listen to the radio, if you do not want to see the entertainers and such get paid big bucks. YOU ALL are the problem. I did not watch more than 5 minutes of the Super Bowl.

I do love UGA sports however and I for one, am happy that UGA is flush with cash. THEY HAVE EARNED it in the m-a-r-k-e-t place gang.

Money talks and B Crap walks.

Barack Dawg

February 9th, 2010
3:21 pm

Whine Whine Whine……all you whiners – have a nice glass of shut the hell up. Who cares how much Damon Evans makes….you should not because you are probably not paying for it.

You whined when we did not have a DC now you whine because he and Evans make to much. Thank god you whiney biatches are not in charge at UGA or at the Athletic Association.

Waffle House Executive Board for GATECH

February 9th, 2010
3:24 pm

Tech gets all of their “contribtions” from the WHEB and no one complains. I will.

Um, ah, my eggs were too greasy on NY Day darn it and therefore I’ll not dine there anymore and that will cause tech some major money probs. I used to love the WH before I knew that the WHEB was behind all of tech’s funding.

Who cares?

Go Dogs.

KJ

February 9th, 2010
3:26 pm

“I bet most of the “capitalism” blogger got an UGA education, or never took a class in UGA.”

Posts that rag on someone’s education are awesome, given that there are 3 spelling/grammar errors in this one sentence.

Barbara Dooley

February 9th, 2010
3:28 pm

Absolutely. Do whatever it takes to make sure the flea bags finish in the bottom teir of the SEC.

GeoffDawg

February 9th, 2010
3:33 pm

Why don’t you define capitalism for us Alphare? I’m sure we’d all find that fascinating.

1eyedJack

February 9th, 2010
3:37 pm

You guys don’t seriously think that Adams just woke up one morning and said, “You know what? I think I’ll give Damon a $90K raise today.” do you?

It don’t work like that in the real world. Damon, just like any of us who have a job goes through a yearly job evaluation process. He obviously met goals or other parameters that were defined in his contract.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

February 9th, 2010
3:41 pm

123456789, as much as you don’t want to hear the truth, Decory Bryant was playing football for the University of Ga, not the Athletic Association. He was not an employee of the AA. So what then should be the responsibility (legally) of the AA as it pertains to Mr Bryants injuries? Try to think before you answer.

WonderDawg

February 9th, 2010
3:45 pm

You can’t blame UGA or Evans for this. Sports and entertainment are strangely unaffected by the recession. Actors in a witchcraft movie getting $50m for ONE movie. A-Rod, LeBron, Brady, et al getting $500K + per GAME. On and on it goes …

cantondawg

February 9th, 2010
3:46 pm

Herschel Talker,

You were talking about allowing CMR to train wreck the Football program.

Are you talking about the same CMC who:

1) has won two sec championships and played in another
2) team was ranked #2 in final poll two years ago..#3 final ranking in 2003
3) has highest winning percentage in UGA history
4) who has consistently recruited at a higher level than any UGA coach.
5) has impeccable character
6) who has built recruiting contacts for more than 10 years in the state of GA.

Sure, why don’t we fire him and then hire someone with an unproven record and then we will surely fall further behind AL and TN, SC, AUB, LSU will all jump us too.

Dawgmaster

February 9th, 2010
3:46 pm

Get over it! Life isn’t fair. It never has been and never will be. The only thing that is fair is that 100% of all people will die. So, you better be ready and don’t let your sense of fairness ruin the time that you do have.

123456789

February 9th, 2010
3:46 pm

Here’s the REAL PICTURE:

UGAG “invents” joke academic majors like “Housing” AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE
to put semi-illiterate “student” athletes on the field for the SOLE PURPOSE
of generating MEGA-MILLIONS in TAX-FREE REVENUE for a PRIVATE CORPORATION
called the UGA-Athletic Association.

The University gets NONE of the $30 Million in ANNUAL TAX-FREE REVENUE
generated by the UGA-AA.

Tell that to the Professors, Maintenance Workers, Administrators who got ZERO.

And, ZERO, was given to Decory Bryant. But, THAT will be corrected soon.

WonderDawg

February 9th, 2010
3:55 pm

Spoken like a true lawyer. “I see millions, how do I get my grubby hands on it.” Even if (and it aint gonna happen) Bryant gets a settlement, you grubby lawyers will keep 80%.

123456789

February 9th, 2010
3:57 pm

Chin Ho:

Your ignorance is obvious on the Bryant case.

Hoke Wilder was the former Assistant Director of the UGA Athletic Assocaition.
He was an EMPLOYEE of the UGA-AA.

Wilder FAILED to submit the insurance paperwork for Decory Bryant
(as Braynt and his parents had requested) that would have paid Bryant
$500,000 for his career-ending neck injury.

You think it was just “coincidence” that Damon Evans FIRED Hoke Wilder……
on Evans VERY FIRST DAY ON THE JOB AS AD ??

Braynt…ASKED…the MEGA-MILLION CORPORATION called the UGA-AA to pay the $500,000 that the insruance company would not pay because Widler didnt send in the forms right before the injury.

The UGA-AA said NO to Bryant. So, so Bryant sued.

When this case reaches the Appeals Court, it’ll be BAD BAD BAD for the UGA-AA.
I suspect the UGA-AA will end up payng Bryant $5,000,000+ to settle this case.

Next time, know what the hell YOU’RE talking about…first.

59bulldawg

February 9th, 2010
4:09 pm

I don’t have a problem with Damon’s salary. In fact I think it’s money well-spent. He learned from one of the best, being mentored under Vince, and he’s one of the best ADs in the country. Very professional and runs a tight ship. We’re lucky to have him and I hope he retires one day after a long career as the head of Georgia athletics.

georgedawg

February 9th, 2010
4:13 pm

The Atlanta J & C is a journalistic joke. They have to try to stir up controvercy because their people can’t write interesting stuff. I’ve cancelled my subscription and hope others do as well.
It’s about time that Georgia tried to keep up with the schools they are trying to compete with. Mark Fox a case in point. Great coach. Todd Grantham and the other defensive coaches. Great hires. I, for one, was tired of watching our kids get inferior coaching. If you’ve watched Georgia football for the past few years it’s been obvious that our competitors like Florida, Tennessee and Alabama had better coaching staffs. It’s a no brainer to step up and compete from a financial standpoint.Theres much riding on Georgia having a successful football and basketball programs.
Go Dawgs!
I think Fox is going to build us a basketball team if we fans will just support him and fill up Stegman.
I’m excited to watch our defense next year. Grantham has got me fired up. I bet the players are excited too.
Damon Evans deserves some credit and this salary increase.

Standing on the sidelines

February 9th, 2010
4:16 pm

No one twists anyone’s arm to choose an academic career. Lets face it, many pursue an academic career, not because they are THAT dedicated to teaching and scholarship, but because they know it will be a very easy life-style, and, if they are lucky enough to be granted tenure, they are just about guaranteed a job for life whether they continue to be productive or not. Coaches, on the other hand, at least at big-time football schools, make an obscene salary but have to be constantly productive, as in win, win, win. If they are not, as in the recent case of Willie M., they won’t be hanging around long. College football and academics are what they are. The market dictates it, and those who choose an academic career will just have to deal with it. Sorry.