It’s all about priorities, right? Our state schools continually face budget-crunching dilemmas and unpopular decisions – Which program do we pump money into? Which do we cut? Which do we string along and hope for future fortune to save the day? Well, stepping back for a wider view of it all makes it pretty easy to see. Yes, it’s about priorities and big-money college sports top the list.
This infographic from Deadspin shows 39 states painted orange or yellow to mark out those whose top-paid state employee is a basketball or football coach… and one “green” state with a hockey coach leading the way. Yep, 40 states.
Forty states who have rationalized the idea that their sideline-patrolling play-barking mini celebrities should rightfully cash paychecks larger than those carrying such catchy titles as: “Vice President, Dean and Professor, School of Medicine”.
Is it right? I don’t know. But it sure seems to be the common course and I don’t hear many arguing.
Big-time athletics do bring in big-time money, albeit money that is rarely handed out beyond the walls of the athletic department. As Deadspin’s Reuben Fisher-Baum says, “it’s not like it’s going to microscopes and Bunsen Burners.”
The major sports generate revenue, pay their coaches (some, obviously, very well), maintain their facilities and run their operations, and cover the lesser, my-mom-was-the-only-one-in-the-stands underling programs.
So, the men and women leading these teams are getting huge slices of enormous pies and – when compared to other state employees – find themselves atop the state pay food chain.
The problem it highlights in my mind isn’t the comparison between the football coach and the Dean of Medicine, but rather between the coach and the amateur student-athletes in his charge. A larger topic, of course, but one brought to light once again with the added bit of perspective from this map.
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(Photo credit: Deadspin)