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Don't look for cut in big salaries

By Staff
Jan. 31, 2002
My daddy used to say "it makes a difference whose ox is being gored or whose baby cries in church."
Indeed it does, particularly in sports. You want a national football playoff. The bowl people don't. The players would like a piece of the financial action they generate. The athletic directors don't want them paid. The viewers wish TV wouldn't interrupt their football telecasts with countless commercials. The networks say if they don't who's going to pay the electric bill and keep the announcers driving their BMWs.
Recently The NCAA News in its opinion column ran this letter from Christine Grant, former women's athletic director at the University of Iowa.
Now that would be goring an ox in the absolutely grandest manner. A football coach being paid the same amount as the school's history professor? You've got to be kidding me. I can hear Steve Spurrier laughing his behind off all the way from Florida.
An assistant coach making no more than an assistant professor. He'd better like Big Macs.
No more Wednesday basketball games? Or Thursday football contests just for TV. Why is the SEC opening the season this fall with a Sunday game? It's because the league is realistic when it comes to money and Ms. Grant is not.
Here's how DeLoss Dodds, director of athletics at the University of Texas in Austin sees the difference between coaches' salaries and that mythical full professor earning a professor's paycheck as reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
There isn't a college president at a Division I school who doesn't know that a winning football team generates alumni giving. It's hard for alumni to feel on-fire emotion over a new science lab but it's very easy to get access to their checkbook if the football team is doing well. This may not be right, but it's truthful.
How many coaches' hold their jobs based on graduation rates? How many lose their's over won-loss records? You know. I don't have to tell you.
Those at the top of their profession command the big bucks because they know (a) how to recruit (b) how to use those recruits to win games and (c) because their services are in demand. And (d), that combination brings money into the university, money that supports the ideal, and sometimes mythical student-athlete sports golf, tennis, track and women's sports of all kinds. It also generates matching funds for that science lab we mentioned, new buildings, and countless other facilities for which the taxpayers are unable to pay.
College athletics are a business, a big business. And like other businesses in the world of commerce, the best managers get the big bucks and those less talented just earn a living and drive used cars.
If it was easy there wouldn't be the turnover in college athletics that we see every year. Everybody in the SEC liked and respected Woody Widenhofer. A fine decent man who did his best every day. But he couldn't find a way to improve Vanderbilt's won-lost record and now he's unemployed.
At the same time Steve Spurrier did at Florida and now he makes $5 million a year as a first-time coach in the NFL.
If Ms. Grant doesn't understand that she is not being realistic. DeLoss Dodds certainly does. My dad would have too.