A USA Today analysis finds that the average college athletic director (or at least those in the at schools in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision) earned $515,000 in 2013, up 14 percent from 2011, even as state funding for higher education has declined and tuition has gone up.
The investigation finds that nine athletic directors earned more than $1 million this year. Some 15 athletic directors earn more than $800,000.
Meanwhile, the average academic provost at an American college earns $133,000 a year.
As I’ve pointed out about college sports before, these sorts of jobs are very demanding ones with significant responsibilities and expectations. But information like this does reveal pretty dramatically the real priorities of American colleges.
The USA Today study also reveals some particularly entertaining anecdotes from its investigation of athletic pay.
Texas A&M, the public university that is now “starting to ask such basic questions as: Is that psychology or engineering professor worth his $125,000 salary?” is apparently asking rather different questions of its athletic administrators. Eric Hyman, the athletic director of Texas A&M, earned a $60,000 bonus when the school entered the Cotton Bowl. He will earn $25,000 in extra cash if the women’s basketball team makes the NCAA tournament. He will also likely earn some $20,000 for the “academic success of various teams” (meaning that his student athletes don’t fail their classes).
University of Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds apparently earns a $62,500 annual bonus if his department is “financially solvent.” In other jobs, of course, financial solvency is a necessary condition just to retain employment.