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

seabass

February 9th, 2010
4:21 pm

Yes! We knew going in to have a decent DC we would have to pay. Why would a guy leave the Dallas Cowboys for minimal pay. We make a lot of money just off our football program. Why not use it?

Without-a-clue

February 9th, 2010
4:23 pm

Read this, and other sports blogs and you get a sense of the academic level and interest of the average “sports fan”. Yes, there are those on here who have never darkened a door of a UGA classroom(or one of any other institution of higher learning), but some of them(claim to have[?])graduated from UGA. My point is: Education, not sports, needs more emphasis.

FL Dawg

February 9th, 2010
4:25 pm

Letter Writer Brenda is obviously obama, masked by her robin hood anticts of wanting to take from the rich and give to the poor. This argument is precisely the reason coaches salaries etc. should not be made public. There is a point where the open records acts just don’t make sense.

Alas, the desparity in salaries and the ultimate jealousey that insues, will be the undoing of America. If you can’t keep what you earn, then why earn it?

CatsFly

February 9th, 2010
4:29 pm

Football recruits determine the quality of the team, and UGa is very good. Students determine the academic quality of the school, and UGa is very average.

Veteran Fan

February 9th, 2010
4:32 pm

Some of these comments are down right STUPID! First, a successful athletic program attracts students and donors who foot the bills for the academic side otherwise UGA is West Georgia. Second, this university gets the lion’s share of the academic funding from the legislature and is bloated and should readily agree to cost cutting measures when revenues are down. Third, if the athletic association wanted to solve this problem and be truly independent, then buy Sanford and Stegman and all the other facilities at current market value and put the proceeds in a trust for the university to use forever and then they could proceed with their idiotic self-serving salaries and raises and no one could say a word! Barring that lease the facilities at market rates as any other outside agency would do. What no more screaming about the “independence” of the athletic program? No, in a real world no football coach is worth $1million or more a year and yes the university should get a cut of all those t-shirts, flags, underwear, etc…. But this is a balloon that will burst someday so enjoy it while it lasts!

Gen Neyland

February 9th, 2010
4:51 pm

Out here in the real world, we of the generation that considers opportunity to be at the forefront of all things American, not European, have held the theory that you’re worth whatever they pay you. If UGA considers paying their people big bucks, that’s their business.

dagnabit : People aren’t ‘denied’ health care no more than people are denied a new car every year. If you want it, go get it and pay for it. Your life on earth ain’t nobody’s responsibilty but yours…

PTC DAWG

February 9th, 2010
4:59 pm

Damon is worth every penny of his pay.

Paul in RDU

February 9th, 2010
5:00 pm

Veteran Fan

February 9th, 2010
4:32 pm

I agree that when schools do something outstanding in sports (like win an MNC) it is a great advertisement and results in a boost in applications and donations. If you are trying to imply that you need successful sports teams to get donations to the University, how do you explain the endowments of the different universities in Georgia?

Emory University
$4.33 billion

Georgia Tech Foundation
$944.3 million

The University of Georgia Foundation
$456.1 million

Agnes Scott College
$230.6 million

Ma Barker

February 9th, 2010
5:02 pm

General- Well said and intellectually it holds together…We are free to choose. But what I think some people are trying to say is that it is not a healthy or flattering comment on the university that its alumni value contributing to the athletic fund more than they value supporting the academic pursuits of the university. If I understand correctly, the UGAA has a lot more money than the academic endowment holds. UGA is not alone on this, and while we are all free to send our money where we like, its hard to argue there is not a higher use that would have more benefit to society than buying another Lexus for the new DC of the Bulldawgs…

doug

February 9th, 2010
5:06 pm

Yes, unlike the Liberal faculty, staff and Professors the coaches are actually contributing something to individual students. The coaches are not filling the players heads with failed Socialistic viewpoints like professors but rather teaching them reality and the value of hard work.
I say give the Jeremy Foley’s of the world more money out of the pockets of the Bill Ayers of the world.

Dennis G. Berdanis

February 9th, 2010
5:07 pm

Didn’t I just read last year that UGA tops all universities in bringing in money due to sales of sports paraphenlia (sp?) at about 51 million a year. I’d say the sports coaching salaries are a bargain at percentage of revenue.

superDawg

February 9th, 2010
5:21 pm

Keep the liberal minded idiots out of this it makes more money for the Gov.than raising taxes.With that said VOTE REPUBLICAN and cut the size of Gov.save this country now from bankrupting.I am mad as hell with the state of affairs in Washington D.C..It is time for real change.Give’em hell in nov.

ugaaccountant

February 9th, 2010
5:22 pm

Dennis G Gerdanis – Yes, something like that. Evans has turned our AA into one of the best in the country, consistently, by any method of measure. But that’s not what this blog is for. This blog is for people to show their envy.

dawgma

February 9th, 2010
5:25 pm

GREEDY – PIGGY – SICKENING.

TO THINK THEY DON’T EVEN GIVE A KID $500 A MONTH SPENDING MONEY FOR GENERATING BILLIONS IN DOLLARS A YEAR FOR ADULTS IS HORSES**T.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS STILL THE BEST.

COLLEGE SPORTS ADMINISTRATION IS FILLED WITH GREEDY, NARCISSITIC, EGO-MANIACS – SEE USC, UA, UF, LSU, OU, ETC.

THE BIGGEST LOSERS OF ALL ARE THE NCAA BOARDMEMBERS.

ugaaccountant

February 9th, 2010
5:27 pm

DO YOU KNOW HOW I KNOW YOU ARE DUMB? BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK FUNCTION.

Dennis

February 9th, 2010
5:44 pm

Not only did Grantham cost UGA an exorbatant salary, they drove up the price for a top notch coach for everyone else and then hired him, having to pay much more than if they had set there sights on him quietly to start with. It will be fitting if Grantham is successful and cost UGA another $200,000 to keep him because another school is poorly coached. UGA drove up the price for LSU,Alabama, and who know who else, not because of success, but, because of failure.

Gen Neyland

February 9th, 2010
5:46 pm

Ma Barker : There is a ton of money under the mattresses of the majors in D-1 and UGA ranks near the top. You and the others that are alumni from this institution have a say. Along with boosters, student-athlete alums, BOT’s, etc have a say. You may not be heard but you can speak. The only thing that speaks volumes is success and failure. There must be a majority that sees success over-riding failure. Shoot, a dang Lexus that’s probably leased and a tax break for UGA and a perk for Mr. Right. Wish it was me but I’ll keep kick starting the the ol’ Biscaynne.

Bernie

February 9th, 2010
5:55 pm

Well Guys and Gals… GATORS may have there new CO/DC.Looks like Charlie Harbison from Clemson.Excellent resume… will know later.A great pick-up for us if it happens. GO GATORS !!

ONLY Fair

February 9th, 2010
5:57 pm

MauiDawg

February 9th, 2010
5:58 pm

Anyone has to realize that the university and the athletic program are two different entities for making money. UGA football and athletics are really just a private marketing and entertainment brand controlled by market forces. Just market forces at work. Congrats on the raise AD Evans, you deserved it and the popularity of UGA athletics shows it.

MauiDawg

February 9th, 2010
6:07 pm

Oh….and of course. AJC figured it was Bill King’s turn to write something to stir the pot again with the Dawgs. I’m really getting tired of this type of crap from AJC editors.

NewnanDawg

February 9th, 2010
6:20 pm

From Gen Neyland – dagnabit : People aren’t ‘denied’ health care no more than people are denied a new car every year. If you want it, go get it and pay for it. Your life on earth ain’t nobody’s responsibilty but yours…

Although the grammar was pretty pitiful, THANK YOU! If I hear one more whiny comment that basically is saying we should become a socialist nation, I’m going to puke. The athletic association raises their own money and is kind enough to give a minimum of $2M per year to academics which they do not have to do. If the faculty wants more money, tell them to ask the state to cut out some of the billions in waste to free up more education funds, or go out and ask for the donations like the athletic department does. I know several people like myself that graduated from UGA but are disgusted by the increasingly socialist teaching in our state run universities and have stopped donating because of it. Professors aren’t exactly in the poor house and they work far less hours than your average coach or athletic director. When you choose a field, you know what the incomes are. If you want to make more money, earn it! These coaches scrape by on nothing while be grad assistants and lower level position coaches at small schools working countless hours to earn their chance, similar to a doctor scraping by while in school and being a resident. They aren’t just handed a great income by saying they want to coach and only the best make it to that level. People need to stop feeling entitled to the money from others’ success, get off their butt, and do it on their own.

Oh, and Evans deserved the raise for the Mark Fox hire alone. Just the increase in attendance to men’s basketball will pay for his raise in no time, and he’s done a lot more than that.

Go Dawgs!

Jborodawg

February 9th, 2010
6:21 pm

MauiDawg: I couldn’t agree more on your last two posts. It’s market forces at work….and it’s the usual negative-slanted blog getting a rise outa people.

JacketFan

February 9th, 2010
7:01 pm

Wow, some folks are really letting their ignorance shine. Some of you are just showing how little you NO about this subject. Here’s the thing; without the college there would be KNOW college athletics. The team needs the college, not the other way around. Were athletic programs such as UGA’s to actually contribute to the college, then that reality may be different. The real problem is a college president who doesn’t have the nads to stand up to the Athletic Association and the Alumni and take control of some of that revenue the athletic teams are bringing in.

And for those of you belittling the contributions of professors, here’s what I NO. Without professors there would be KNOW students. KNOW students, KNOW student athletes – bye bye athletics. Furthermore, student athletes only make up 5% of the student population. Of those 5%, only 10-15% have any realistic shot at becoming a professional athlete. Colleges are in place to educate students, not train athletes. That places the importance of coaches and athletic administration and staff at about nil in my book.

To those of you who are UGA alum, where would you be without your professors? You wouldn’t have a degree. You wouldn’t have a job. Oh, wait, I just realized that probably 90% of the people on the UGA blogs never stepped foot in a classroom at the University, Nevermind.

Jim

February 9th, 2010
7:01 pm

This Brenda Poss has the same Obama-esque thinking that is destroying our country. Somebody makes more money doing something valuable, so let’s take from them so everybody else is happy and suckling from the public teat. The Athletic Dept. shouldn’t have to share; the funding comes from different sources. And let’s not even mention the tax revenue that athletic events generate. Pinko commie BS!

BravesFan79

February 9th, 2010
7:06 pm

I bet over 50% of the professors at UGA could do just as good a job as Evans! I see NOTHING special about what Evans brings to the table… .and he dmn sure dosent deserve that much $$!

Let's Hire Brenda Poss for AD!

February 9th, 2010
7:28 pm

Can Brenda Poss do Damon Evans’ job? I attended UGA and I think it’s a safe bet that 90% of the professors I had couldn’t do his job either. If he runs a clean program that makes a profit, then he is worth every dime he is paid. The problem with liberals in general is they just can’t accept a market economy. He is being paid fair market value. I bet Brenda Poss is a democrat and that she wants free government health care. I bet she also works a useless government desk job.

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Let's Hire Brenda Poss for AD!

February 9th, 2010
7:32 pm

BravesFan79, Which 50% do you think could run a multi-million dollar business with hundreds of employees? Most professors come in late, leave early, and “manage” one or two grad students. Oh yeah, that’s tenured professors that can’t be fired for anything short of sex with a student (and that’s debatable). You show me a professor that generates the revenue for UGA that Damon Evans brings in, then I will agree he/she should get a raise.

Krogunner

February 9th, 2010
7:33 pm

He can have the raise if he finds us a new Head Football Coach!

DawgCrazy

February 9th, 2010
7:41 pm

Damon Evans—way overpaid. he’s a paper shuffler and gofer for michael adams. UGA wastes millions on salary and perqs—just raise booster fees and ticket prices to pay for more luxury.

mcdawg

February 9th, 2010
7:44 pm

this is the boring kind of stuff baseball writers write about

Alabama Jack

February 9th, 2010
7:45 pm

Just showe how hard it is to get people to come to Athens.

Professor

February 9th, 2010
7:48 pm

OK students, here in a liberal arts university the first thing we learn in English 101 is how to properly use “NO” and “KNOW”. Ready?

JacketFan

February 9th, 2010
7:50 pm

Professor … you missed the joke. Try reading the entire thread next time before you look like an idiot.

Professor

February 9th, 2010
7:52 pm

Oh, was there a joke there? Then, hahahahahahaha!

BigGAdawg

February 9th, 2010
7:57 pm

Poss and company are always going to be miserable and unhappy. You cannot be happy trying to live out of the other guys pocket. And being so morally superior to everyone else is tiresome indeed.

But the questions she asks reveal her heart for socalism. I guess she CAN be happy with the occupant of the White House–one of her fellow travelers. She/they are the kind of morons who want to put a limit on what you can earn, no matter how hard you work and no matter what you have earned.

Class warfare is a simpleton’s game. That is the only type of person who they can fool with it–others who are as simple minded and shallow as they are.

We can look for Poss (or her ilk) to write another letter condemning the renovation of Stegeman because that money should go to pay for something that she thinks is more important. Nevermind that they have a 60+ million surplus in the bank thanks to the hard work of Damon and his staff and to all of the happy alumni who donated it.

Damon Evans is underpaid, even after his raise, when you compare his salary to other ADs who even approach the profitability of his department. We are fortunate to have his caliber of leadership and management.

JacketFan

February 9th, 2010
7:59 pm

Market Value? Okay, wisenheimer, how many professionals does a professor turn out in his or her career? Let’s see … the average University professor teaches around 100-150 students in a given year. Now, adjusting for graduation rates, that’s probably around 80-120 college graduates, who have trained with that professor, earning their diplomas every year. With those numbers, by the end of his or her career, a professor will have graduated somewhere in the neighborhood of 3500 students. Now, the average lifetime salary for a college graduate is $2.1 million. That’s an economic impact of around $75 billion to the economy over a period of 30 years. Spread that out over the lifetimes of each graduate from year 1 to year 30 and that number is much higher. What do you think Damon Evans’ impact will be? Without professors, there are no professionals to work in this economy. So, yeah, I think professors deserve a little more respect than you and the rest of the retards on this blog are giving them.

Valdosta Dawg

February 9th, 2010
8:00 pm

It can be justified no matter what the economy. The letter write Brenda Poss breaks his salary down and says that could go to pay for someone’s insurance that does not have it. There is the problem, she is a liberal that believes someone else should take care of everyone else. I am happy for Damon and all the coaches. They have worked hard to obtain the positions they hold and should not feel bad for making a lot of money. If you do not like it, work harder and get a higher paying job. But this crap about no one should get paid that much during this tough time is just that, CRAP. You are just mad that it is not you. This is a free country and people should be able to work hard and make lots of money! I know you progressive/liberal/ sociallist types, like OBAMA, want everyone to make the same. You want to take from Mark Richt or Damon Evans and give it to people that do not work and thats crap! Congratulations Damon, make as much as possible!

Without-a-clue

February 9th, 2010
8:10 pm

I go back to the days when athletics was provided by the University to the students as a diversion from their studies. That was when the dog, or dawg, wagged the tail. Now that the tail wags the dog, or dawg, I guess it is anything goes. BUT, if you lose sight of the fact that this is college athletics, not a “business”, you have allowed them(college athletics…and particularly football)to be turned into a minor league for the NFL and education will become even more secondary. Our competitors across the oceans are loving that.

Big B CH 99

February 9th, 2010
8:48 pm

Adams will keep Evans as long as he can, b/c all Evans is is a puppet. He does whatever Adams says, Adams is the real AD at UGA. He got rid of Dooley b/c he knew that he couldn’t control Dooley. Adams is an ego-maniac, micro-manager. There’s a reason that everyone hates him.

lowcountrydawg

February 9th, 2010
9:04 pm

I really don noit care how much they pay the coaches as long as they run a good program and win…..

AthDog

February 9th, 2010
9:09 pm

Dean, okay listen up…ready?…the UGA-AA, money from the athletic department goes to pay ALL athletic department employees, secretaries, coaches and Damon Evans. The AA is so profitable that they give two million dollars a year to the University in a fund that Dr Adams controls. The athletic association does not cost the University anything, it is a cash cow FOR the university, giving two millin a year to the school. That’s twice in the same letter I’ve written this. Do you understand now, or do I need to write it again since you obviously didn’t read the article.
And no, Ohio State didn’t give ‘100 million’ to the it’s school. Had they done so, they (the OSU AA) would be bankrupt. Seriously, can any of you read?

.

February 9th, 2010
9:14 pm

I wonder how much money the Professors contribute to the University? You know with their little “side projects’ and books they write? Does that money work it’s way back to academics? You know, those Professors that never show up to teach, but have the GAs do the dirty work so they can concentrate on their “research projects” and thought provoking books. You know, wink wink, hush hush, shhhhhhhhh!

AthDog

February 9th, 2010
9:17 pm

Jacket Fan, please understand. Most of us here are not showing any lack of respect for professors. It is a fact that over a career, a professor will impact exponentially more lives than a football coach will. There is no one who is sane that will argue that fact. The argument here seems to be, or at least started off being, if it was better for the university to pay professors or athletic directors. The point is, the university doesn’t pay the athletic directors. They are paid by, and employed by, another entity. My friend the genetics professor is paid by the university, Damon Evans is paid by the athletic department. The university raises its own money for its own account through grants, endowment, tuition, tax money, etc…the athletic department raises its money for its account through ticket sales, endowments, media contracts, paraphernalia sales, etc…The athletic department give two million to the school. The school does not give money to the athletic department. Got it?

AltamahaDawg

February 9th, 2010
9:19 pm

Ms. Brenda, just tell them to go get a job as an AD. You’re welcome.

Rich

February 9th, 2010
9:21 pm

Last I checked coaches have no tenure and no retirement plan. A football team fails to perform and the coach loses his job, a class fails to learn and the professor get another class.

AltamahaDawg

February 9th, 2010
9:23 pm

By the way folks, you pay about 20% of the actualy cost of your kid going to UGA in tuition. The rest comes from somebody else, so don’t complain about a department that pays it’s entire way and then some.

.

February 9th, 2010
9:23 pm

No risk = no reward. A sports coach can be fired whenever the wind changes. An untouchable tenured Professor has a sheild to protect them.

Rich

February 9th, 2010
9:24 pm

Let’s Hire Brenda Poss for AD! – Don’t you think “runs a clean program” is a little loose with the history of arrests?