Sports trumps all in Big Ten salaries

Sports trumps all in Big Ten salaries

With the ink still fresh on Lovie Smith's six-year deal and the UI now searching for a permanent chancellor, The News-Gazette obtained and analyzed 33 contracts of campus chiefs and football and basketball coaches at other Big Ten public universities.


The contracts for president or chancellor, men's basketball coach and football coach:





Michigan State



Ohio State




Twenty-five things we learned:

— The highest-paid public employee in all of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin is a Big Ten football coach.

— The highest-paid public employee in Indiana, Maryland and Minnesota is a Big Ten basketball coach.

— If you add up all the money Illinois has committed to Smith ($21 million over six years) and basketball's John Groce ($5.1 million over three more years), you're still shy of the $27,434,457 Urban Meyer would be owed if Ohio State fired its football coach without cause between now and Jan. 31, 2017.

— Among the 13 sitting campus chiefs at public schools, all but two chancellors or presidents make more than President Obama: outgoing Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman ($359,494) and interim UI Chancellor Barb Wilson ($397,500 — $2,500 shy of Barack Obama's salary).

— Those retention bonuses UI President Tim Killeen has railed against are still in vogue conference-wide.

— Just this past April 30, Richard Pitino qualified for a $450,000 "contract fulfillment incentive" simply for making it through Year 3 of his $1.6-million-a-year Minnesota basketball deal that's since been extended through 2021.

— Stay on the job past April 30, 2019 — no gimme, given last season's 8-23 clunker — and Pitino will be due another $450,000 fulfillment bonus.

— That's chump change compared to the $4.3 million payday awaiting the oft-courted Mark Dantonio (right) if he's still coaching Michigan State football come Jan. 1, 2020.

— No campus president or chancellor at any of the Big Ten's 13 public schools makes more than Eric Barron's $800,000 at Penn State.

— No Big Ten football coach makes less than Tracy Claeys' $1.5 million at Minnesota, and two make more than triple that — Ohio State's Meyer ($5.86 million, second only to Alabama's Nick Saban nationally) and Michigan's Jim Harbaugh ($5 million, not including the one-time $2 million signing bonus the Wolverines threw in last year).

— As longtime Illinois followers know all too well, being an ex-chancellor can be even comfier than being a sitting chancellor.

— Take Nebraska's 74-year-old Perlman, whose two options upon his retirement at the end of this month are: take paid leave of six months at full salary plus benefits, or go on paid leave for a full year at half-salary with benefits.

"The purpose of such leave of absence will be for your professional development and preparation for return to teaching in the College of Law," Nebraska President L. Dennis Smith wrote shortly after Perlman's 2001 hiring.

— It's 1,434 miles from College Station, Texas, Mark Turgeon's (left) former hometown, to College Park, Md., his home since the summer of 2011.

— How badly did Maryland want the former Texas A&M basketball coach? Its compensation package included $450,000 "to facilitate the relocation and moving the Coach and his family."

— This past December, Maryland allotted "up to" $30,000 to facilitate the relocation and moving of new football coach D.J. Durkin and his family from Ann Arbor, Mich.

— Only Nebraska's Tim Miles has more financial incentive to win a national championship than Groce. Miles' bonus for cutting down the nets is $300,000 — $50,000 more than Groce and Indiana's Tom Crean would each earn.

— The only current Big Ten coach who's won it all — Michigan State's Tom Izzo — gets another $150,000 if he does it again, same as Iowa's Fran McCaffery.

— If Kirk Ferentz delivers Iowa's first undisputed national championship in football, not only will he be due a $1.5 million bonus; all of his assistant coaches will get an extra three months' salary, as well.

— Unlike the setup in Urbana — where the system president, not the chancellor, gets to live in the fancy, university-owned house — 11 of 12 campus chiefs at Big Ten public universities are contractually required to move into stately presidential palaces with names like Eastcliff (Minnesota), Westwood (Purdue) and Cowles House (Michigan State).

— The lone exception: Nebraska, where the chancellor of the Lincoln campus is free to live wherever he'd like. The university provides a housekeeper and a $12,000 annual housing allowance on top of the $13,200 the Nebraska Foundation ponies up each year.

— If the compensation package of the next UI chancellor is around the $549,069 Phyllis Wise received, she or he will earn less than Lovie Smith's new offensive coordinator (Garrick McGee, $650,000) and in the ballpark of the new defensive coordinator (Hardy Nickerson, $550,000).

That's long been how things work on campus in Ann Arbor and Columbus, but a new approach here.

— Indiana President Michael McRobbie, 65, is contractually obligated to undergo an "extensive" annual physical by the doctor of his choosing. IU foots the bill and vows not to pry: "The results of the physical examination shall remain confidential from the University."

— Should high-strung Hoosier Crean perish while still employed by Indiana, his family will be set financially, care of a supplemental term life insurance policy that will pay his designated beneficiary up to $20 million.

— Rare is the Big Ten coach who flies coach. An increasingly popular perk to further differentiate the Ohio States from the Ohio Us has universities granting coaches personal time on their private plane.

Meyer's (right, at left, with then-Illinois coach Tim Beckman) Ohio State contract calls for 50 hours a year — tops in the conference and on top of the $1,200-a-month stipend he gets to put toward two cars; the $10,000 for the coach making one mutually agreed upon personal appearance a year at "activities or functions" of Coca-Cola or the Coca-Cola Bottling Group; and a $1.2 million bonus if he's still coaching the Buckeyes on Jan. 31, 2018.

— Ferentz's Iowa football contract calls for up to 35 hours a year of private plane time. Harbaugh and Michigan State's Izzo and Dantonio get 25 hours apiece.

— Should Purdue's paid football attendance ever average more than 50,000 at Ross-Ade Stadium in a season while Darrell Hazell is coach, he's due $20 per fan over 50,001.

Hit 55,001 fans and he'll get $30 per Boilermaker booster.

— Country club memberships are a standard perk in Big Ten head coaching contracts. Not so standard: the amendment to Matt Painter's (right) contract after his ninth season as Purdue basketball coach.

It reads: "Since Coach elects to drop his membership in the Lafayette Country Club, his supplemental stipend will be increased by the amount of said membership."

Since July 1, 2014, Painter's monthly paychecks have been $316.25 fatter.

— A sign of the times at Rutgers: Among the bonuses new basketball coach Steve Pikiell is eligible for — $10,000 if the Scarlet Knights reach the NIT. Elsewhere, that's a fireable offense.

— Anytime a Rutgers football player on scholarship is named an Academic All-American, second-year coach Chris Ash gets $10,000 — per player.

— No Big Ten public school devotes as much language in coaches' contracts about nepotism being a no-no as Maryland.

"Supervisor-subordinate" relationships are strictly prohibited between head coaches and their spouses, children, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and their spouses' brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.