SAUL SHAPIRO: Real wasteful university spending goes to athletics | Columnists


As Republicans in the Iowa Legislature try to solve a labor shortage they helped create — keep the minimum wage low, attack public education, ignore high levels of carcinogens related to water (lead too) and gutting gun laws – there’s other nonsense in the country.

As colleges struggle to keep tuition affordable and improve our economic future, the masterminds running athletics programs have found ways to blast millions.

According to ESPN, the $18.9 billion college sports industry spent $533.6 million in “dead money” on fired coaches from 2011 to 2021 – with just 86 of 130 schools reporting.

When I was a sportswriter at the UCLA newspaper, John Wooden was on his way to winning 10 national basketball titles, earning $35,000. University policy dictated that he could not earn more than the highest paid professor.

The times have changed. In 2013, UCLA hired former Iowa coach Steve Alford in a $10.4 million buyout (97 times Wooden’s annual salary). He got $3.6 million when he was fired in 2018.

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Ed Orgeron won a national football championship in the state of Louisiana in 2019. He was rewarded with a pact paying him $9.012 million in 2021. (LSU’s highest-paid professor earned $271,000 in 2018; the average was $85,000.)

Orgeron quickly divorced his wife of 23 years. He unknowingly proposed the wife of a “high-ranking” LSU official, according to The Athletic.

But that’s not the reason he was clubbed last fall – nor the allegations he played dumb when a former star player raped female students and sexually harassed a 74-year-old woman. year. No, he lost games, even to my alma mater, who hadn’t won a non-conference contest in three years.

LSU is paying him $16.9 million through 2025 to leave. Brian Kelly left Notre Dame for $95 million over 10 years to succeed Orgeron, developing a Southern accent along the way.

Iowa State savior Matt Campbell would be the fifth most expensive coach to fire at $28.333 million. He makes $4 million a year, about half of what former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley got before he went to Southern Cal for $10 million.

Kirk Ferentz of Iowa recently had his contract extended through 2029. He will be paid $7 million a year, which includes a base of $500,000 plus $5.5 million in additional compensation and a ” $1 million longevity bonus. (No penalties exist for two or fewer offensive touchdowns in eight Big Ten games.)

Ferentz earns roughly half of Michigan State’s Mel Tucker ($95 million over 10 years) for beating Michigan, while losing to Ohio State, 56-7, and James Franklin of the Penn State ($85 million over 10 years) for not beating Iowa, MSU, Michigan or OSU.

Trev Alberts, a Cedar Falls native and Nebraska’s new athletic director, kept coach Scott Frost ($5 million), possibly because NU pays 31 former coaches $25.8 million a year.

Coaches need players, which means recruiting money.

The Louisville Courier Journal reported that the 52 public universities in the “power conference” collectively spent more than $50 million recruiting football players in 2018, up from $35.5 million in 2016.

Coincidentally, the leaders were Alabama, $2.6 million, and Georgia, $2.3 million.

Saul Shapiro is the retired editor of the Courier, living in Cedar Falls.

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