Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shameful Coaches and Obscene Salaries

University football coaches have been much in the news recently, and it hasn’t been good news. In fact, it has been downright shameful.
The most widely publicized, of course, is the child-abuse by an assistant coach at Penn State University. The problem, as you know, was not just the abuse of young boys but the lack of preventive or punitive action by the head coach and by the university. Shameful!
And then here in Missouri the arrest of the Missouri University football coach on DUI charges. While certainly not nearly as serious, for a man who is supposed to be a mentor of the young men on his team as well as the larger community to be arrested is a shameful thing also.
But I also find it obscene how most coaches at the major universities are paid such extravagant salaries. A front-page story in the 11/17 USA Today was “Coaches’ pay soars again: Average salary at top schools tops $1.47M.”
In six seasons the average pay for top coaches has increased by nearly 55%—and that in a time of a severe economic recession in society as a whole. The Florida State coach got a raise of around $950,000 last year, after just his first season there. His salary is now $2,750,000.
Thirteen coaches are bringing in salaries of more than three million dollars a year, the highest being the coach at Texas University whose salary is more than $5,000,000!
Part of the problem I see with these exorbitant salaries, is that they are 20-25 times more than the salaries of most university professors, who are doing what a university is supposed to do: teaching students who entered the university to get an education.
I know, a winning sports program not only brings in a lot of money for the university, it also produces a lot of positive publicity for the university. Still . . . .
Speaking of high salaries, many people are now complaining about the high pay for U.S. Congresspersons—and that is probably a legitimate concern. There are now said to be 250 millionaires in Congress, close to 50%. But the salaries of those in Congress don’t come close to being as much as that of football coaches in the major universities across the country.
The pay and long-term benefits of Senators and Representatives may, certainly, be too high. But they are surely not as outrageous as the pay of football coaches. And the men and women in Congress have vastly more important things to make decisions about than, say, whether to go for it on fourth and one. (You football fans will know what that means.)
And those who think Congresspeople trusted with making decisions affecting the well-being of all the citizens of the country as well as the future of the nation are too high surely realize that their pay-scale is modest compared not only to football coaches but also professional athletes, movie stars, TV personalities, and others. (Oprah’s yearly salary is said to be $350M, Dr. Phil’s, $80M, and David Letterman’s, $40M.)
Perhaps it is high time for the USAmerican public to reconsider its priorities. And surely adding a surtax to the income tax of football coaches and other overpaid people in our society is not an outrageous idea.


  1. Unfortunately, coaches' salaries are a prime example of unchecked capitalism. Without some limitations things can get even more out of hand. The USA had a vision of society that I embrace. We believe that we can be a light to the world. However, in recent years the rich have taken over the policy making in this nation and the gaps keep growing wider and wider. I am concerned about inflated coaches' salaries but even more concerned about the 1% controling congress. I still believe that to live in the nation means you should have the opportunity for education, healthcare, and security.
    Thanks Leroy for again putting your finger on a serious issue.
    Be well and feel good - David

  2. Dr. George, a Thinking Friend in Canada, sent an e-mail with the following comments (which I post here with his permission):

    "Ditto to your comments. Similarities between the south and north of the border. Coaches' and players' salaries are indecent to say the least. I nclude in this not only football but also hockey, baseball, and basketball. Of course, there is the other issue of 'corporate greed' which eventually led to the rise of a 'new movement????' in New York and in other larger cities across the continent.
    While I do not believe that the prolonging of keeping the tents in the parks is healthy, I believe the original concept of why this arose is a good and positive one."

    "Money ... ah, yes, you can't live without it but how much is enough....."

  3. I also received these comments in an e-mail this morning:

    "I agree with you on football players, but find it fascinating to consider that that’s what a free market has produced.

    "As for Congress (and esp. federal judges whose salaries are coupled with Congress), I’d have thought you would be in a different place, as their salaries are artificially low compared to the market and that increasingly limits those who are willing to be there to the independently wealthy (Congress) or those who may not be the very best (Judiciary)."

  4. The surtax idea is a great idea. We could also do much steeper progressive taxation

  5. Regarding athlete and performer's salaries, I have questioned them for a long time. However, they are market driven, so until fans and viewers abandon those forms of entertainment, they will continue.

    Regarding millionaires in Congress, part of that is they make the rules. 60 Minutes had a report on insider stock trading by members of Congress, for whom it is not a crime. They do not pay into Social Security but instead have nice pensions. Medical insurance is not a problem. The non millionaires have not been there long enough. Hard to say they are underpaid, especially for the work they accomplish.

  6. Leroy,
    Sport, both professional and college, is big business. Most politicians in the USA and here in Canada are funded by big business. The major media are owned by big business. The media are in the entertainment business, and as long as they can keep us entertained by sport, celebrity scandal and political nonsense, they will prevent us from putting our time and energy into the things that are destroying the planet, such as our addiction to fossil fuels, which are filling the pockets of oil companies and automobile manufacturers. It does not have to be this way, but it will take a massive effort and change of life style by those who love God's creation to turn this titanic around.
    Glen Davis

  7. This comment isn't directly related to sports salaries, but I view it as another sign of the corrupting influence of college football. This article is about Joe Paterno who apparently is fair game for criticism now that he's been fired. However, I suspect most if not all big time programs are guilty of the same thing.
    Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno clashed repeatedly with the university's former chief disciplinarian over how harshly to punish players who got into trouble.

  8. A Thinking Friend who is now in Florida for a while send the following comments:

    "I agree that the salaries are too high. I have come to realize that sports are a major pacifier for a nation that is being ripped off by international corporations and government. It is very much like the games during Rome's era. If you can divert the citizens attention from the great robbery then the robbers benefit."