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Kent State Football: Paying For Success

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Kent State Football: Paying For Success

OK. I’ll admit it. As someone who doesn’t pay much attention to pro football — and that includes most of the college games involving the football factories — I kinda got caught up in the frenzy Friday night over the Kent State Golden Flashes. Hey. I’m one of the few people still alive who actually saw the last football game Kent State played that meant something, in 1972 or 1973. So congrats to the Golden Flashes for a great season, even though they fell a fumble in OT away from the MAC title and a trip to the Orange Bowl.

Now comes the big BUT.

Where is the university going to come up with the money needed to retain head coach Darrell Hazell? And is a successful football program worth the cost at a time when students face higher tuition and fees and there is pressure to cap faculty salaries?

When Hazell joined Kent State in 2010, his base compensation was reported to be $300,000. I imagine that has increased some since then, and most likely Hazell has incentive clauses in his contract for wins, bowl appearances and so on. Still, reports that Hazell is the lowest paid coach in the MAC. And, reports, “Kent State students as a whole pay over $10 million in student fees towards the athletic department. Schools like Ohio State and Cincinnati have no student fees towards athletics.”

Clearly, Hazell has been a tremendous success at Kent State. Good for him — and his staff.

So if another university comes calling, should Kent State up the contract ante to have him stay?

According to an article in USA Today, NCAA football coaches’ average salary is now $1.64 million a year. Wow. That nearly matches the pay for an instructor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. [Note: Just kiddin’.]

Anyway, here’s from the USA Today article:

The average annual salary for head coaches at major colleges (not including four schools that moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision this season) is $1.64 million, up nearly 12% over last season — and more than 70% since 2006, when USA TODAY Sports began tracking coaches’ compensation.

Coaches’ pay has even outpaced the pay of corporate executives, who have drawn the ire of Congress and the public because of their staggering compensation packages. Between 2007 and 2011, CEO pay — including salary, stock, options, bonuses and other pay — rose 23%, according to Equilar, an executive compensation data firm. In that same period, coaches’ pay increased 44%.

Again, congrats to the Golden Flashes and to head coach Darrell Hazell and his staff. You deserve plenty of credit for a successful season. And for Hazell, that success most likely will put him on the road to a compensation package that gets him at least closer to the mega-millions that other coaches receive. He is already being mentioned as a possible replacement for the recently fired Jeff Tedford at the University of California. Tedford was the state’s highest paid employee, earning in excess of $2.5 million a year.

Still, I hope that whoever is going to make the decision at Kent State as to whether Hazell warrants a bump to the major leagues of coaching salaries, he or she takes into consideration the students, many of whom are taking on considerable debt and working one or maybe more jobs to gain a college degree.

I understand that college football is important to alumni, the marketing folks and others.

BUT for a public university,  it ain’t everything.



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  1. Shauna Stottsberry says:

    Interesting. Nice insight, as always.

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