College ADs Make More Than You Can Imagine

If you needed any proof of just how much of a business so-called “pure” college sports is — well, the mere existence of bowl games. But also check out the salaries of the athletic directors at big sports schools - some can top a million dollars a year. Remind me again why the athletes aren’t getting a piece of this pie?

NCAA Money

BLOOMBERG NEWS, by filing public records requests, published a list of the AD’s pay at most major public schools, and the numbers are eyepopping. Jeremy Foley at Florida makes a base salary of $935,000, not including benefits or bonuses. Joe Castiglione, his counterpart at Oklahoma, only makes $700,000. I wish I had known this information before wagering on the game. (More fun facts and figures that’ll just piss you off, after the jump.)

“The athletic director is more like a CEO of a corporation than a guy who hires coaches,” said University of Florida President Bernard Machen, who will earn $416,000 in base pay this year. “Jeremy oversees everything from the sale of bonds for capital construction to tickets and sponsorships, and he manages more than 500 employees.”

You might have noticed the AD makes more than twice as much as the president at Florida. Emphasis on academics, indeed.

I’m not actually too scandalized by these numbers, seeing as how much money the athletic programs bring in. Lew Perkins, the AD at Kansas, is second overall with a $900,000 salary, but oversees a $57.8 million sports budget.

[KU Chancellor Robert] Hemenway said that before setting Perkins’s pay, he conducted salary comparisons, reviewed non-salary arrangements at other schools, spoke with the Big 12 Conference commissioner and drew from his own observations and experiences on various NCAA committees. Perkins needed to be paid at or near the top of all athletic directors in the U.S., he said.

Chuck Neinas, founder of Neinas Sports Services in Boulder, Colorado, and a former Big Eight Conference Commissioner, said the days of hiring the retired football coach to run the athletic department are long gone.

Similar to bankers or lawyers, he said, today’s athletic directors need years of practical experience and contacts, plus skills in budgeting, hiring coaches, sports marketing and increasingly, fundraising.

Some other fun facts:

-Ohio State has the largest budget for its sports department, at $115.4 million.

-The Big 10 has the largest average budget, at $72.2 million, but the Big 12 pays its ADs the most, an average of $470,000.

-Mama’s tell your babies grow up to be athletic directors. Even at schools not necessarily considered powerhouses, the AD makes six figures easy. For example, at Houston, Dave Maggard makes $415,000.