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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Salaries for college football coaches back on rise

Jimbo Fisher got a raise of roughly $950,000 after last season, his first as head football coach at Florida State, boosting his pay to about $2.8 million.
So, at a time of tightening budgets, how does a public employee get a 50% raise of nearly $1 million after one year on the job?
"You're always looking at whether or not you have the potential to lose a good coach and end up having to pay more in order to get the next one," Florida State President Eric Barron says.
That sort of inflationary reasoning is a factor in the rapid rise in salaries of major-college head football coaches. An analysis by USA TODAY found that in 2006 the average pay for major-college coaches was $950,000 — coincidentally, about the amount of Fisher's raise after last season.
The average compensation in 2011 is $1.47 million, a jump of nearly 55% in six seasons.
In the six conferences with automatic Bowl Championship Series bids, the average salary rose from $1.4 million in 2006 to $2.125 million in 2011. That's a jump of about 52% — meaning salaries at schools in the other five major conferences are going up at roughly the same rate as they are at higher-profile schools.
"The hell with gold," higher education lawyer Sheldon Steinbach says. "I want to buy futures in coaches' contracts."
Critics find it troubling that this rapid rise for coaches comes at a time when instructional spending at many schools has slowed or declined amid economic struggles and shrinking state education budgets.
"Athletics has gotten so disproportionate to the rest of the economy, and to the academic community, that it is unbelievable," says Julian Spallholz, a professor in the department of food and nutrition at Texas Tech, where coach Tommy Tuberville got a $550,000 raise. "This kind of disproportion in the country is why people are occupying Wall Street."
This season, at least 64 coaches are making more than $1 million. Of those, 32 are being paid more than $2 million, nine are making more than $3 million, and three are making more than $4 million. Texas' Mack Brown tops the list; he's being paid more than $5 million. The analysis is based on contracts or other documents showing compensation from 110 of the 120 schools in the NCAA's top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
Average pay for major-college head coaches rose 7.3% from 2010. Average pay for those coaches was flat the year before, the only time there was no increase since USA TODAY began these analyses in 2006.
Gene Chizik's $1.4 million raise was this season's biggest, but he led Auburn to the national championship last season. Fisher's Seminoles didn't achieve as much, winning an Atlantic Coast Conference division championship before losing to Virginia Tech in the ACC title game and beating South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen got this season's second-biggest raise — $1 million. Mullen earned $1.2 million in his first season at the school in 2009, got a $300,000 raise for his second year, and the latest raise jumps his pay to $2.5 million. Last season, he led the Bulldogs to a 9-4 record, their best since 1999, and a victory against Michigan in the Gator Bowl. He also was mentioned as a candidate for head-coaching vacancies at Miami (Fla.) and Florida.
"It's all market-driven," Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin says. "When we hired Dan, we paid him $600,000 less than our previous coach … with the understanding that you know when you do that, you're saving money today but if he's successful you're going to catch him up to where the market is."
Mullen moves up from last in compensation among the 11 public schools in the Southeastern Conference to ninth. The high-price contracts of the SEC, where Chizik's $3.5 million salary ranks fourth, also influenced Fisher's raise.
Barron says Florida State conducted a market analysis and found Fisher's 2010 pay "was in the middle of the ACC pack and low for the SEC" and that he deserved a raise for coaching the Seminoles to a 10-4 finish in his first season after they went 7-6 the year before.
"That is very much the traditionalist argument for raising salaries of coaches," Steinbach says. "And the argument has some merit. That's the way the market functions."
Fisher's raise, this season's third highest, boosts him past the icon he succeeded, Bobby Bowden, who made $2.3 million in 2009, his last season.
Fisher declined to comment on his contract through a spokesman. Athletics director Randy Spetman also declined to comment other than a two-sentence e-mail statement that said Fisher's package is competitive and no state money is used to pay coaches.
It is common for schools to say that coach pay is pooled largely from TV, media and marketing contracts. But in 2010, only about 20% of FBS athletics departments were able to pay all their bills without help from university or state funds or student fees, according to a USA TODAY analysis of universities' financial records.
Chizik, Mullen and Fisher weren't the only coaches to receive big raises. About one-quarter of the 82 public schools that retained their coaches after last season gave raises of $200,000 or more; some of those raises were built into contracts that remained unchanged. However, nine schools provided boosts of $500,000 or more to incumbent coaches via new, or amended, contracts.
The 7.3% increase in the average pay for this season would have been more than 10% if such highly paid, high-profile coaches as Jim Tressel at Ohio State, Butch Davis at North Carolina and Urban Meyer at Florida had stayed in their former jobs and retained their former salaries, rather than leaving unexpectedly. (Tressel and Davis exited amid NCAA investigations; Meyer left on his own.)
Tressel made $3.9 million last season; his successor, Luke Fickell, is making $775,000 on an eight-month contract. That works out to $1.162 million on an annualized rate, the smallest number for an Ohio State football coach since Tressel earned $1,095,750 in guaranteed compensation in the 2003-04 contract year, according to Tom McGinnis, OSU's assistant athletics director of administration and human resources.
Fickell's annualized rate is slightly less than what Indiana is paying first-year coach Kevin Wilson and it's more than what Purdue guarantees third-year coach Danny Hope.
Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith declined to comment. "Considering my coach situation, I am not interviewing on these topics," he said by e-mail.
Reaction from faculty
Richard Lapchick is a social critic and coach's son who is director of the DeVos Sport Business Management program at the University of Central Florida.
"When you see the continuing escalation of coaches' salaries, I think the typical person has resentment about that," Lapchick says. "Misery is not the right word, but the lack of economic progress for most people, or the regression from where they were, makes it doubly frustrating when they see these kinds of salaries.
"I'm teaching in the Florida system. So, while I feel fairly compensated, I know there are a lot of faculty members who haven't really seen raises, or had tiny ones the last couple of years, who like everybody else are frustrated by what's going on."
Even so, there hasn't been much faculty criticism of Fisher's raise on the Florida State campus.
"I have not heard any talk about the football coach's contract," says Sandra Lewis, president of FSU's faculty senate.
Spallholz was among some members of the faculty senate at Texas Tech who questioned Tuberville's $550,000 raise to $2.059 million last winter after going 8-5 in his first season, including 3-5 in the Big 12.
"When this came out I stood up and said if I were Tommy Tuberville, I would be very embarrassed to accept such an increase, given the fact the faculty and staff had received nothing," says Spallholz, a former member at large of the faculty senate.
Florida State pays football coaches' salaries out of funds raised by its booster club. Even so, taxpayer money is affected at least indirectly. Federal tax subsidies are involved, as are state corporate tax subsidies since the university, athletics department and booster club are exempt from the state's corporate tax structure. (State subsidies for individual returns are not involved as there is no state income tax in Florida.)
"That's not any different than any other philanthropic contribution, as far as I can tell," FSU's Barron says.
For all of the TV money that flows to athletics departments in the best-known conferences, only 22 athletics departments are self-supporting, according to the USA TODAY analysis. The majority get subsidies from the university, often through student fees.
"The students pay more tuition, the faculty pay by not having a pay increase, and the football coach gets a half-million-dollar raise," Spallholz says. "And this goes on in a lot of other places, not just here.
"I think it speaks for itself, doesn't it? It says football is much more important on a lot of campuses than academics."
'It's a highly valued position'
The $525,000 pay raise for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was as simple as Utah's move from the Mountain West Conference to the Pacific-12.
"We felt that as we made that move, we had to take people who do a good job and get them at least somewhat in the middle of the league," athletics director Chris Hill says.
Whittingham's compensation of $1.7 million is now fourth highest of the 10 public universities in the Pac-12, and Lane Kiffin at Southern California, a private school, almost certainly makes more.
Hill says Whittingham's raise is not really as large as it appears, because he says about $200,000 comes from an existing apparel deal that was outside his contract and now is included.
Hill makes $400,000, meaning Whittingham makes more than four times as much as the man he works for. Hill says that's fine by him.
"It happens in a lot of professions," Hill says. "The person who runs the hospital doesn't make as much as a top surgeon. And a top salesman often makes more than somebody else. I accept that as it's just the way it is."
As does Stricklin, the Mississippi State athletics director.
"All of us are paid based on what our value is within the context of the job we do," he says. "You can make a lot of comments about society and what football coaches get paid, but the fact of the matter is it's a highly valued position. … College football coaches, especially in the South, are some of the most high-profile citizens in each of our states."
Until recent days, Joe Paterno was among the most revered citizens in Pennsylvania. Critics suggest his larger-than-life legend contributed to an atmosphere in which his program could seem to function above the law. One consequence of football coaches who make more money than the athletics directors and presidents they nominally answer to is that the coaches can come to seem more important than their bosses.
"In the case of Joe Paterno, I don't think money was as much of a factor" in the mythology that grew around him "as his longevity and the reputation he built, partly as a philanthropist," Lapchick says. "But I do think coaches' salaries can play a role in distancing them from those they report to."
Barron, the Florida State president, says he makes $400,000 and got a bonus last year that raised his pay to $500,000. Fisher, of course, made almost two times that much in his raise alone.
What's it like to be the boss of a football coach who makes more than five times what the president does?
"I suppose it would be easy to sit there and think about that on a personal level, which is kind of the way that you've asked the question," Barron says. "I'm frequently amazed at what coaches get. … And then I Google the number of news stories about any university in the country and I realize that the top 20 stories for any university will all be about athletics. And that one mention of conference realignment will put 3,000 news stories out there.
"You can get a Nobel Prize at your university and you won't get anywhere near that attention. And so I think between the public and the media, they are telling us what they value."

Barcelona launch first European football school

WARSAW: Football icons Barcelona on Wednesday launched their first European training school outside Spain in Poland, aiming to spread their "tiki-taka" style among kids dreaming of becoming the next Lionel Messi.

Only 620 boys from the 3,000 "FCB Escola Varsovia" hopefuls made the final cut for a programme teaching the fluid passing play that earned Barcelona the 2011 Champions League title and helped Spain win Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

At Wednesday's debut a forty-strong pick of the crop were put through their paces by coaches including Carlos Alos, sent by the Catalan powerhouses to run the school.

"It's kids that are the most important thing," said Warsaw's sports director Wieslaw Wilczynski.

"But it's also important for Polish football," added Wilczynski, who as deputy sports minister in 2005 played a key role in launching Poland's successful bid to host the 2012 European Championships along with neighbouring Ukraine.

The youngsters are aged from six to 12.

"These could be the players who could represent Poland on the global stage in the future," Wilczynski said.

Polish fans pine for the glory days when Poland won Olympic gold in 1972, silver in 1976, and finished third at the World Cup in 1974 and 1982.

With the current squad failing to shine, realists are already looking well beyond Euro 2012.

In another effort to boost football, the government-run "Orlik" programme - "Little Eagle", in a nod to Poland's avian emblem - has built hundreds of artificial pitches in communities across the nation of 38 million.

The school does not have a building, but instead involves regular sessions run by Barcelona-trained Poles at four Warsaw community pitches.

Monthly fees are 190 zloty (43 euros, $58). Poland's average net wage is 2,300 zloty.

Barcelona do not have a financial role - their input involves supplying know-how - and the remaining costs are covered by Warsaw council via sponsors.

Barcelona already have six similar schools across the globe, in Egypt, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Peru, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

"We are here because we know that Poland has a lot of fans of Barca. They have good installations here, and we received a good project from here," Alos said.

They do not aim to use the school to cherrypick young Poles for their club, he underlined.

"For us, the goal is to develop football, the kids, to put the focus on training the kids, like a person and not only like a player. We're here to work with our philosophy, our mentality, our methodology and the most important thing for us is to show our philosophy around the world," he said.

"If, after that, some of the kids can play in international teams, we'll be very, very happy," he added.

Barcelona - whose slogan is "more than a club" - and its players are a global brand.

Asked to name their favourite player, the Warsaw youngsters yelled: "Messi".

Over 70 percent of Barcelona's players are home-grown.

Even though Messi, now 24, is Argentinian, he joined Barcelona as a youngster.

Also said it was "too early" to speculate whether similar talent could emerge in Warsaw.

Pressed to assess the quality of Polish football, he said: "I think there are good Polish players in different, good leagues. Maybe not now in Spain, but some Poles played in La Liga before."

"I think the level here is like in other places," he added.

America's obsession with college football helped obscure Penn State scandal

WASHINGTON - In a country where college football is sacrosanct, the alleged conspiracy of silence in the horrifying sexual abuse scandal rocking Pennsylvania State University is leading to criticism about the culture of a sport that's now a multibillion-dollar industry.
Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive co-ordinator of Penn State's football team, is facing 40 counts of sexual abuse against eight children over 15 years, an indictment that has already prompted the removals of university president Graham Spanier and revered coach Joe Paterno, although neither has been charged with a crime.
Mike McQueary, an assistant coach, is also on indefinite leave amid allegations he walked in on Sandusky raping a young boy in the locker room showers and failed to speak up. In emails McQueary sent to friends and obtained by a Pennsylvania newspaper on Wednesday, however, the star witness in the case against Sandusky insists he did, in fact, put a stop to the assault.
Sandusky, for his part, said in a televised interview earlier this week that he's innocent, adding that his penchant for showering with underprivileged young boys and engaging in "horseplay" was simply a matter of poor judgment.
While Sandusky's alleged demons likely had little to do with the college football system, Spanier, Paterno and McQueary are all accused of keeping the events quiet for purely mercenary reasons — to protect the reputation of Penn State and prevent prestige, power and cash from drying up in the face of terrible scandal.
"Spanier did many splendid things for PSU as president," Carol Harter, the former president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, wrote in a recent editorial in the Las Vegas Sun.
"But his Achilles' heel, or tragic flaw, or whatever one calls this sad professional demise, is surely a product of the 'football culture' that has so dominated major university life nationwide and seems to get more out-of-control every day."
She suggested Spanier counted on revenue from the football team to support other university programs, "thereby becoming beholden to coaches — even iconic ones — and their staffs."
To have a winning college football team in the United States means lucrative television packages, mammoth payouts for bowl games, a boost in alumni donations and thousands more high-school graduates chomping at the bit to attend. It also means head coaches can negotiate salaries that often soar into the seven figures.
The University of Texas, in fact, will reportedly net as much as US$15 million annually from ESPN to broadcast all of the school's sporting events on the college's new Longhorn Network. Notre Dame will soon follow suit.
"It all centres on money — they have professionalized college football in a way you won't find anywhere else in the world when it comes to amateur sports," Geoff Baker, a Canadian-born football reporter at the Seattle Times, said Wednesday in an interview.
Canadians might fixate on hockey, he said, but America's obsession with college football goes far beyond anything that exists in Canada.
"Canadians are obsessed with professional hockey, and with the juniors during the World Championships," Baker said.
"But that's the kind of fervour you see here every single weekend in the United States, even at the high school level. In Canada, you see it once a year and even then, I doubt you'd be able to pack a stadium with tens of thousands of people once a week, even when the team is winless. Football is deeply ingrained in the culture here."
Buzz Bissinger, author of the non-fiction "Friday Night Lights," has been scathing about the so-called football culture in recent days. The TV adaptation of his book about a Texas high school football team frequently detailed the tireless efforts of Coach Eric Taylor to ward off predatory college recruiters as they targeted his players with promises of fame and riches.
In an interview on CNN on Wednesday, Bissinger compared college football teams to mafia members who fervently honour the "code of omerta" — a pledge to keep quiet when the going gets tough.
"Penn State football is God, you don't touch God, you don't touch football, you don't touch Zeus, which is Joe Paterno. Everybody — everybody — abdicated their moral and public responsibility," he said.
"You name me one football scandal ... where someone from the inside, a coach, actually turned in his program. It will never happen. They protect their own at all costs."
But Baker also believes the Penn State conspiracy of silence was given a helping hand by the U.S. sports media, which provides blanket coverage of college football and assigns "god-like" status to winning coaches. Dictatorial coaches often shut out the media entirely and no one complains, he added.
"You have to look at what gave them their power in the the first place, and it's the media that allows them to keep this status without seriously questioning them," he said.
"Very little investigative reporting of college sports teams goes on down here, and if it does, it's investigative reporters from other areas of the newsroom, not sports reporters, because then they'd lose their precious access to the team."
Penn State's scandal is by far the most extreme example, but there have been other cases of colleges covering up misdeeds by everyone from players to boosters and recruiters.
The University of Miami was recently on the hot seat for a "lack of institutional control" for failing to rein in team booster Nevin Shapiro. Currently in jail for orchestrating a US$930 million Ponzi scheme, Shapiro also allegedly provided cash, goods and prostitutes to the college's football players and paid for at least one abortion for one of the team members.
The National Collegiate Athletics Association has said that if the claims are true, it will ban the University of Miami Hurricanes from competing for a year.
At San Diego State University, former coach Chuck Long was replaced after it emerged he tried to conceal a 2008 incident that resulted in a lineman pleading guilty to assaulting a teammate.
Penn State, for its part, is creating a special committee to investigate how the culture of silence contributed to the events in the wake of allegations that Sandusky used the school's reputation and football program to lure young boys.
The U.S. Department of Education has also launched an investigation into whether Penn State broke the law by failing to report sexual assaults on campus. A long road of civil lawsuits and additional indictments also loom ahead.
Will that change anything?
"I doubt it," Baker said.

The hottest wives and girlfriends in sports

Sports stars are known for their ability to score on and off the field ... New York Rangers player Brad Richards has nabbed one of Hollywood's hottest ladies - funny woman Olivia Munn, reports UsWeekly. 'Olivia has become the Rangers' good luck charm as they've been on a 6-0 winning streak since they first started dating two weeks ago,' a source told Just Jared.

Sports stars are known for their ability to score on and off the field ... New York Rangers player Brad Richards has nabbed one of Hollywood's hottest ladies - funny woman Olivia Munn, reports UsWeekly. 'Olivia has become the Rangers' good luck charm as they've been on a 6-0 winning streak since they first started dating two weeks ago,' a source told Just Jared.

Cricinfo: India's blind cricket team in Pakistan

LAHORE: India's blind cricket team arrived for a 12-day tour, their first to Pakistan in five years, in what many expect would help in restoration of full sports ties between the two countries.

Shortly after the 17-member delegation crossed into Pakistan via the Wagah land border, Indian blind cricket team captain Shekhar Naik Lachma told reporters: "I am very happy that we were given such a great welcome on crossing the border".

A team led by Pakistan Blind Cricket Council chairman Syed Sultan Shah welcomed the Indian players.

"Despite security concerns and other issues, they have come to our country. A good message will go to the world that Pakistan is safe for sports," Shah said.

Ramakant, the coach of the Indian team, said the three T20 matches and as many one-day internationals to be played in Pakistan would help his side prepare for the 2012 World Championship to be held in India.

The Indian side will play the T20 games in Lahore during November 18-20 and the one-day matches in Islamabad during November 22-26.

The Indian blind cricket team is touring Pakistan after a gap of five years and officials have said they expect the series to help in the restoration of full sports ties between the two countries.

'We're going to have baseball for a long time': Cavemen owners announce Clemens Field upgrades

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Historic Clemens Field should feature more of a new-age look this summer when the Hannibal Cavemen take the field for the 2012 Prospect League season.

Cavemen owners Rick DeStefane and Bob Hemond and general manager John Civitate announced at a Wednesday press conference plans for new additions to the ballpark, which serves as home to Hannibal's baseball organization in a 12-team wood-bat summer collegiate league.

Included in the plans are:

º A new Daktronics electronic scoreboard and message center that will replace the existing manual scoreboard beyond the wall in right-center field.

º A radar gun/pitch speed board that will be positioned on the visitor's dugout and visible to fans.

º A canopy to cover the press area next to the Clemens Club, which is close to being completed.

º Installation of a mesh shade canopy on the northwest side of the grandstand and oscillating fans in the grandstand.

º Planting of trees near the Clemens Club.

Many of the planned upgrades are designed to provide a more comfortable viewing environment for fans.

"The message (with the planned upgrades) is that we're here to stay and that we're going to have baseball, and we want to have the best place to play baseball," DeStefane said.

DeStefane sees the upgrades as the continuation of a process of rebuilding the organization's reputation following an ownership transition last summer.

DeStefane, a nursing home executive, is president and the CEO of Hannibal Cavemen Baseball LLC, which took over ownership of the Cavemen last June. DeStefane is a 50/50 owner with Hemond, who is also a minority owner of the Sacramento River Cats, a Class AAA affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

Hemond and Larry Owens were majority owners of the prior ownership group and ended up at odds. The Hannibal City Council authorized F&M Bank to sell off team assets in mid-May, and less than a month later, the Prospect League approved the sale of the team to DeStefane and Hemond. Owens is not part of the current ownership group.

DeStefane said the organization is financially stable under the current ownership group.

"I hope and encourage (the public) to trust us and look at this new regime as a new regime, that we're going forward," DeStefane said. "We have strong financial capability, so even if we have a bad year, we're not going to be hurting. We're committed to it."

Hemond said an electronic scoreboard was important to improve fan experience and to allow Clemens Field to continue to host American Legion and Hannibal-LaGrange University baseball games when a manual scoreboard operator can't always be present.

"What we really wanted to do was bring out another level of excitement and enjoyment for the fans to be able to follow the Cavemen games," Hemond said, adding that the organization plans to try to find a way to continue to incorporate the manual scoreboard somewhere in the ballpark that was built in 1938.

Hemond said it's still to be determined how much all the upgrades will cost, and he would not offer a cost estimate. DeStefane said some of the of the cost will be picked up by multiple sponsors, and some will be covered by the owners.

Hemond said the upgrades will not affect season ticket or single-game ticket prices.

"Right now we're in very good financial condition, ... and we're going to have baseball for a long time," DeStefane said.

AP source: MLB forcing Astros out of NL

HOUSTON (AP) — Major League Baseball told Houston businessman Jim Crane it would not approve his purchase of the Astros unless he agreed to move the team to the American League, The Associated Press has learned.
Crane was forced to agree to move the sale along, a person familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made by MLB or the Astros. Approval of the sale could be announced as early as Thursday at a meeting of baseball executives in Milwaukee.
Crane reportedly agreed to the move in exchange for a drop in the sales price valued earlier this year at $680 million. The person who spoke to the AP could not confirm the sales price.
The MLB Players Association believes two 15-team leagues would create a more proportionate schedule and has urged baseball to make the switch. With schedules for next season already completed, the earliest such a move could take place is 2013.
Time is running out for approval of the deal: Crane has said that his offer, which was announced on May 16 expires Nov. 30.
An MLB spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment, though Commissioner Bud Selig addressed an Astros' move during a Twitter chat on Monday.
"For 15/15 realignment, Houston would be the team moving to AL West. Would create more fairness in baseball," Selig tweeted via the Colorado Rockies Twitter feed. He also added that "15 teams in each league would necessitate interleague play every day but it will be better schedule overall."
The Astros currently play in the six-team NL Central. The AL West is the only league in the majors with four teams (Rangers, Angels, Athletics and Mariners).
The Astros would be in a division with in-state rival Texas. But fans are unhappy that the other three teams are all on the West Coast, meaning many road games would routinely end past midnight Central time.
Drayton McLane bought the team in November 1992 for about $117 million and put the franchise up for sale in November. He turned down an offer from Crane to buy the team in 2008.
The $680 million sale price is the second-highest in major league history, trailing the $845 million purchase of the Chicago Cubs by the Ricketts family two years ago. The $660 million sale of the Boston Red Sox in 2002 currently is second. Like the Astros' deal, the Cubs and Red Sox transactions included related entities.
A major selling point in Houston was the Astros' share in a new deal with the NBA's Houston Rockets to create a regional sports network that will begin airing Rockets games in 2012 and the Astros in 2013. Crane has said the team's 30-year lease at Minute Maid Park, which is owned by the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, will remain intact under his ownership.
Crane, who founded a Houston-based logistics company in 2008, is also the chairman and chief executive of Crane Capital, a private equity fund company. In 2009, he was in the running to buy the Cubs and last summer teamed with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in an unsuccessful bid to buy the Texas Rangers.