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

Dip Kip

February 10th, 2010
3:12 pm

Attention kool-aid drinking GOP voters……….

WHERE ARE ALL THOSE WMD’s ??????????????????

Minnesota Dawg

February 10th, 2010
3:20 pm

Dip Kip, everyone was asking the same question with Hitler and what did we do? Northing until he created massive havoc on Europe. We stopped a Hitler in Sadam. When will you liberals learn from your history?

Minnesota Dawg

February 10th, 2010
3:29 pm

It’s interesting that we put such pressure on coaches to win the first couple of years that come in and at the same time question their salaries! Win Win Win at all costs is the cry of a lot of people in the Bulldog Nation! Once you get a winner, someone is going to take him away from you with a bigger salary! I’d like to believe that Mark Richt would not be swayed by bigger money. He’s here to stay because money is not his main goal. He wants to develope these kids into something bigger than football. And by the way, He’s a winner to top it off!

AltamahaDawg

February 10th, 2010
3:49 pm

I’ll take “Syrian Underground Bunkers” for 300 Alex.

Kino

February 10th, 2010
5:06 pm

The disparity between the pay of Athletics’s personnel and the academic personnel is sickening. The school, and this nation, have it’s priorities completely fubar’d. I don’t care if the athletics department can afford to pay salaries like this, but if the universities (notice I’m using the plural form, dammit) are cutting back on academic personnel and raising tuitions for the students then there’s an issue with what we, as a society, should hold more important.

The football programs wouldn’t exist without the schools. That’s the simple version.

TechEngineer

February 10th, 2010
5:25 pm

Tech engineering profs make huge money, but do valuable teaching and research that adds a lot of value to business & society, compared to a lot of the BS research that the liberal arts professors do at UGA.

JacketFan

February 10th, 2010
5:42 pm

TechEngineer – way to throw liberal arts under the bus! Liberal arts includes math and science (most Universities have colleges of Arts and Sciences). Apparently you missed that day in class.

MMM

February 10th, 2010
6:50 pm

Now more than ever, American schools are more focused in brewing athletes than preparing young people compete in the global job market. We better start learning Chinese ASAP.

.

February 10th, 2010
7:36 pm

JacketFan….looks like we started something? I was just being a smart azz to nip at ya. I have a ton of respect for you guys! Some of my best Prof s were the ones who came back from the private sector to teach because they were not being fulfilled out there. 25 years later, I still remember my first accounting Prof. who came to UGA from IBM. He was very dynamic, and he actually made accounting interesting, if you can believe that. Dude! I was just messing with ya….sorry looks like this got a little out of control!

JacketFan

February 10th, 2010
10:23 pm

Sorry for being so touchy – it’s been a rough couple of years. Overall, it seems like people have a misconception about what academic life is like – you know, we’re all just sitting back in our cush offices, fending off advances from young, hot coeds and getting paid to do nothing. Or, better yet, we’re a bunch of liberal socialists who want to turn over America to the “commies.” It gets to you after a while … and I’ve only been in for four years! Thanks for the kind word.

DawgsFanInOhio

February 11th, 2010
6:00 am

I view Damon Evans’ salary as the equivalent of a CEOs salary because college sports is really a business enterprise in our current culture. Producing winning teams in a variety of different sports is now a product that most major colleges and universities make a priority, alongside offering a quality education. UGA is no different than the rest of the schools, and I have no problem with his salary. Football, basketball, and baseball are not the only sports programs he manages; in many other types of sports UGA athletes have also excelled.

CatsFly

February 11th, 2010
9:07 am

the real disgrace here is admitting athletes who otherwise would not be admitted if they were not athletes. They are possibly taking the seats of your kids who were just a few SAT points below getting admitted, while the athlete might be 100-150 points below the admissions cut-off. This goes on everywhere, and is worse at some places than at others. Real student-athletes are few and far between, especially at schools like Duke, UVa, UNC, where admission is extremely fierce. I bet that there are not a handfull of football players at those schools who would have otherwise been admitted.

Da'Freak

February 11th, 2010
9:24 am

1) Damon should apply as an assistant coach and get some real $$$$
2)Do what I did get in the back pocket of my Sugar Daddy Mike Nance cause it pays well and we get the UT HO-tesses

JacketFan

February 11th, 2010
10:05 am

Okay – here’s the question no one has seemed to really answer yet. What has Evans done? I don’t see a MNC in football or basketball. I don’t see a World Series. Sure, the GymDawgs are doing great, but that program was elite LONG before AD Evans arrived on the scene. What, exactly, has he done to improve Athletics at UGA? The football team just came off it’s worst season in a decade. In the previous year, they fell far below some pretty high expectations – expectations set by national media types who saw a team LOADED with talent and strong coaching. Okay, so he hired Mark Fox … UGA just lost to Auburn last night by double digits, keeping Fox and the Dawgs right at .500. I just don’t see what this AD has done to warrant a $90,000 raise. I mean, had UGA even won the SEC and gone to a BCS bowl – as they have done a handful of times over the last decade – I could see reason for a pay increase. But, he’s done nothing above or beyond what has been the status quo at UGA for the last ten years. Can someone help me out here?

JacketFan

February 11th, 2010
10:07 am

crap – ITS not IT’S (god knows I don’t want the UGA blogger grammar police on my butt).

K

February 11th, 2010
10:22 am

Jona… A University System of Georgia Faculty Member doesn’t neccesarily mean UGA…all of the public Colleges and Universities are a part of the University System of Georgia including Tech, GA State, and Georgia Perimeter to name a few!

Georgia Tech For Like

February 11th, 2010
12:00 pm

HI, IM A STUPID UGA FAN. I NEVER WENT TO COLLEGE, BUT I LOOOOOVE GEORGIA FOOTBALL. HELL, I NEVER WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL NOW THAT I THINK ABOUT IT. IM A DUMB REDNECK AND THINK MY SISTER’S HOT. I LIKE IT WHEN WE’RE RANKED #1 IN THE COUNTRY, BECAUSE WE MAKE FOOLS OUT OF OUR SELFS AND EVERYONE MAKES FUN OF US ON ESPN.

Mentalist T

February 11th, 2010
12:08 pm

90% of the football players at UGA, Tech or other big college programs would not be admitted under normal admission rules. But they admit them under special rules, stick them in special mickey mouse classes and somehow keep them eligible. Just win baby!!!!

Rodster

February 11th, 2010
1:15 pm

Wow, I know those salaries are very high but on the other hand the AD and at least the football coaches are essentially revenue producing entities. So their compensation cannot really be compared with other employees at the University. Our scale of priorities is seriously out of whack given that some athletic programs can generate such revenue, but that’s antoher topic.

Lisa T.

February 11th, 2010
1:58 pm

The best quote from this article is “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.” Exactly. So until that changes (which it won’t), things will stay the same. Revenue earned = compensation given. Anyone who has a problem with should consider the last time they paid for an athletic event ticket, versus the last time they made a donation to the UGA foundation (for academic support). Hmmm…

Raining Dawgs

February 11th, 2010
2:21 pm

You would think if Michael Adams wants to pay the average salary for an athletic director position, then he should pay all athletic personnel the average salary in the conference. If you do your research, the athletic association pays their little people well below the average salary in the SEC. I know my position is…

chuck

February 11th, 2010
3:29 pm

Let’s see some CHAMPIONSHIPS, Damon–MAJOR sport championships. Then this ludicrous salary may have even a small element of justification.

BuLLdawg

February 11th, 2010
7:24 pm

Turner Field 5-7 Georgia tek Lost again 12 May 2009.

Then

Bounced from Tournament by Southern Mississippi Rusty Old Chandler Stadium

3 College World Series Appearances, 0 National Titles, Georgia tek.

6 College World Series Appearances, 1 National Title, UGA Diamond Dawgs

47-28 UGA Diamond Dawgs in The NCAA Baseball Tournament

195-148-2 UGA Diamond Dawgs over Georgia tek in Baseball All-Time.

We own your butts in this sport too.

1-6 Georgia tek is against UGA Diamond Dawgs at Turner Field

This coming season, as in every other sport, UGA’s Diamond Dawgs feature the

SoS # 8 UGA

SoS # 35 Georgia tek

Georgia tek always plays nothing but cupcakes, and then wonders why it cannot beat UGA

CatsFly

February 11th, 2010
7:47 pm

BuLLdawg, you just don’t get it.

JacketFan

February 11th, 2010
10:04 pm

Um, BuLLdawg, I think you’re on the wrong blog …

BuLLdawg

February 12th, 2010
3:27 am

Heaven Forbid we should let the AJ-C once again this year tell us how great Georgia tek is in Baseball, and no one allowed to tell the truth once again that UGA utterly destroys Georgia tek in Baseball, too, at

195-48-2 UGA Diamond Dawgs over Georgia tek in Baseball

6-1 UGA Diamond Dawgs over Georgia tek in Baseball at Turner Field

6 College World Series UGA only 3 Georgia tek

# 8 UGA Strength of Schedule in Baseball

# 35 Georgia tek Strength of Schedule in Baseball.

Why should we be allowed to instead tell the AJ-C that their hogwash about Georgia tek Baseball is all a damn LIE.

BuLLdawg

February 12th, 2010
3:28 am

OldDawg

February 12th, 2010
6:28 am

Bill, late on this one…but If I may..let me answer your question with a question.

If you wer CEO of a comapny with an annual budget of say 85 million dollars…and you company showed a profit of shall we say conservatively 30 to 35 million dollars, would you consider a raise of the same proportion, would you consider it to be “out of line”?

Geez

February 12th, 2010
8:23 am

Are you only writing a couple of blogs a week now? Most fans rely on the bloggers as much, if not moreso, during the “off-season” as during actual football season. I guess you see it differently.

ugaaccountant

February 12th, 2010
8:40 am

Jacketfan – I know you meant this to be a smart a** comment, but i’ll answer your question briefly. This raise is for a 5 year period, and thus it’s a modest raise. So when it came time to decide if he was worth a raise, it looked to his whole track record as AD. Since Damon Evans took over he has increased overall athletics revenue, increased the net profit, and maintained excellent quality programs in all sports. He doesn’t just ignore the “lesser” sports, he oversees a program all UGA grads can be proud of. I am extremely pleased to see this man staying another 5 years.

And how dare you tell BuLLdawg he’s on the wrong blog. It’s extremely relevant to point out all the accomplishments that we’ve had in the Evans era. Baseball is just one of many sports in which we’re thriving.

ugaaccountant

February 12th, 2010
9:08 am

chuck

February 11th, 2010
3:29 pm
Let’s see some CHAMPIONSHIPS, Damon–MAJOR sport championships. Then this ludicrous salary may have even a small element of justification.

Chuck, you ignorant blowhard, he’s being paid in the middle of the SEC’s ADs. Thus to justify his salary he needs to ocassionally win an SEC title in any sport. Mission more than accomplished.

John Doe

February 12th, 2010
9:28 pm

Money’s not this issue here. this guy is where he is because vince dooley had to be given some kind of reward for being fired. and damon evans fell into a rose garden. hah! hawking uga visa cards and telling people not to hit one another. if his name was david evans he would be on the street now.

chazzo

February 13th, 2010
10:15 am

Joe Hendrix

February 13th, 2010
11:57 am

You guys do all you can to bring georgia down. Example for two days you run story on internet head lines on fronts page UGA player arrested on hit and run you never say any thing good about georgia you talk bad about coach richt. YOU HAVE NOT LEARNED IF YOU CAN NOT SAY SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT SOMEBODY KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.

Camden Mark

February 13th, 2010
8:29 pm

Football is self supporting,along with supporting all the other sports.
Thats where the money comes from and in my opinion should stay.Get the best coaches,pay them what the market demands and win FB games.
To hell with the academics,etc.,jealous whiners

Wreckmaniac

February 14th, 2010
12:03 pm

It sounds as if the AA is so disassociated from the school that it should take on another name, maybe the Bulldawg Club, and let the school develop its own atheletic program.

Wreckmaniac

February 14th, 2010
12:05 pm

UGA is actually known as a baseball and gymnastics school. At one time it was known as a tennis school but thats over.

Wreckmaniac

February 14th, 2010
12:11 pm

CATS-FLY: You nailed it. Why does Duke graduate all of its players and why do they stay 4 years ? Its Coach K’s program. He knows he selling not only the best basketball brand but the best education brand and he doesen’t let one take precedent over the other.
Subjugating these academically inadequate young men who end up with no degree (over50%) in many cases should be outlawed. This is criminal. If winning a nat champ is the goal then set up a semi-pro league.

WE RUIN THIS STATE

February 14th, 2010
12:13 pm

JOE HENDRIX: What is there to compliment ?

Wreckmaniac

February 14th, 2010
12:17 pm

At a time of revenue shortfall (9% reduction in GA) the major universities should be reorgainzed so that they are efficient.
Science, math, engineering and business should be taught at Tech
only. Let UGA handle the other stuff. Why teach physics at UGA
anyway ?

Hate UGA

February 15th, 2010
12:24 pm

UGA has become a farce – When people have had enough, there’ll be no more donations to the fund!

Dawg to Task

February 16th, 2010
4:40 pm

Pay whatever it takes to get the best—winning is all that matters! UGA has plenty of cash to pay the top salaries for the asst coaches—just win baby and everything else falls into place.

GatorJimBob

February 20th, 2010
6:18 am

at the end of the day, does it really matter?… just more gator-bait!

Mable Dawg

February 20th, 2010
9:22 pm

Georgia’s loaded with cash! $85 mil last year alone—pay top dollar and hire the best!!!!