Showing posts with label Les Miles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Les Miles. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Our nation's highest paid public employees work for universities and most are coaches

Reporters for 24/7 Wall St. published an informative online article recently that listed the highest paid public employee in all 50 states. In 47 of the 50 states, the highest paid public employee works for a university.  In 26 states, the highest paid public employee is a college football coach. In 11 states, the best paid public employee is a college basketball coach.

King of the heap is Nick Saban, head football coach for the University of Alabama, who makes more than $7 million a year, exponentially more than the UA president makes or Alabama's governor. In fact, several of Saban's assistant coaches make more than the governor of Alabama, including Lane Kiffin, Saban's offensive coordinator, who makes $1.4 million. 

What does this mean? At least three things:

College athletics is entertainment and has nothing to do with higher education. First, college sports has nothing to do with higher education anymore. It is entertainment, and highly paid coaches, assistant coaches, and athletic directors are in the entertainment industry. Football coaches don't make as much money as George Clooney or Madonna--at least not yet. But they live in a completely different world than the professors and instructors who toil away on university campuses for crap wages.  

College football players don't get paid, it is true; but essentially they are interns grooming for careers in  the NFL. A typical football player has only the flimsiest allegiance to the university he attends. Believe me, the 280 pound hunks that entertain us on Saturdays are not thinking about the Homecoming Prom. And at LSU, at least, the football players have a depressing tendency to get arrested on various misdemeanor charges.

More and more cash flows into college athletics while academic programs are starved for money. According to the 24/7 Wall St. story, college coaches' salaries have gone up an average of 90 percent in just 10 years. Meanwhile, state contributions to public university budgets are shrinking.

I'm not saying that coaches' salaries are the whole explanation for rising tuition prices. A few college football programs earn enough money to be self sufficient. And many coaches receive the bulk of their compensation from private foundations, not public funds.

But surely there is something wrong when LSU pays Coach Les Miles around $4.5 million a year while LSU tuition skyrockets upward. LSU would argue that its football program is completely self sustaining, which is true. But the fat cats who donate tax-deductible money to LSU's athletic foundation to pay Miles' salary are basically ripping of the public. They should be paying higher taxes instead of getting tax write-offs to support their hobby.

Sports are the 21st century equivalent of the Roman Empire's bread and circuses. Finally, America's sports craze at every level is a distraction to keep people from thinking about the fact that our middle-class way of life is evaporating before our eyes.  Wages have been stagnant for years; the typical working male actually makes less today in real dollars than he did 20 years ago. Both spouses now have to work just to pay the mortgage; and young people are going into debt to get a college education with no assurance they will find a job that pays well enough to service their monthly student-loan payments.

But let's not think about that. Will Alabama win the national title this year? Which team will win the Sweet 16? Will the Saints ever climb out of the toilet?

Meanwhile, the wealthy sit in their air-conditioned executive sky boxes at our unversities' enormous stadiums, drinking premium whiskey while the rubes sit sweating in the bleachers munching on popcorn at seven  bucks a box.

Image result for gladiators inside the colosseum

References

Evan Comen, Thomas C. Frolich, and Michael B. Sauter. The Highest Paid Public Employees in Every State. 24/7 Wall St., September 20, 2016. Accessible at http://247wallst.com/special-report/2016/09/20/the-highest-paid-public-employee-in-every-state/

In the Mix: Ten Candidates Who Could Replace Les Miles (in alphabetical order). The Advocate (Baton Rouge), September 26, 2016, p. 2C.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's All About the Money: Louisiana State University, Coached by Fried Chicken Huckster Les Miles, Whipped Sam Houston State By a Score of 56-0

Louisiana State University's varsity football program brings big money to the local Baton Rouge economy.  The liquor store not far from my home opens at 6:00 AM on days when LSU plays at home: 6:00 AM! A Baton Rouge citizen who bought his bourbon at that hour yesterday had a solid 12 hours to drink before kickoff at 6:30 in the evening.  So the liquor business makes good money off of LSU football.

And the restaurants and hotels also make money when LSU plays at home. According to The Baton Rouge Advocate, room rates go up by an average of 34 percent on the weekends that LSU plays in Tiger Stadium. 



Other sectors of the Baton Rouge economy benefit as well.  LSU added 10,000 seats to its stadium last year at the cost of $80 million, making Tiger Stadium one of the largest college football coliseums in the country. It also added two high definition video screens that are so large that they can be seen from the Interstate 10 bridge over the Mississippi River. 

But the big money goes to the coaches and athletic administrators. Les Miles, LSU's head football coach, makes $4.3 million a year, about five times what LSU's president makes; and that doesn't include bonuses and and any product endorsement deals Miles might pick up.  His face has appeared on advertisements for Raising Cane, a regional fried chicken chain, and I'm sure Les didn't lend his mug for free.

Joe Alleva, LSU's Athletic Director, is another guy who makes a handsome salary. The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that Alleva has been offered a contract extension that calls for  a $725,000 yearly salary and includes incentive bonuses that could push his annual pay to $900,000.  He will get a $100,000 bonus if LSU ranks in the top 5 in the NACDA Directors' Cup rankings--whatever that means.  And Alleva will get an additional $25,000 if he maintains "financial solvency, no major infractions, [and makes] substantial contributions to [the] university and surrounding community" (as quoted in The Baton Rouge Advocate).  What nonsense.

Of course, university professors have groused about the salaries of football coaches for as long as I can remember, and it's been at least 30 years since football coaches first began making more money than university presidents.

In fact, almost everyone in higher education admits that varsity sports--and football in particular--is all about the money. Still, LSU's home field opener last night was a particularly disgusting spectacle. It has become traditional for the nation's top college football teams to open their seasons by playing weak opponents who are lured into the stadiums by getting a share of the gate. This year, Sam Houston State University obligingly volunteered to be the sacrificial lamb, and got trounced before a crowd of about 100,000 fans (not counting thousands of fans who tailgated on the LSU campus yesterday).

The Baton Rouge Advocate reported this massacre on the sports page in headlines so  big you would have thought Les Miles had defeated ISIS.

Some day, of course, all these enormous college football stadiums will stand empty, just as the old Roman coliseums now do. People will wonder just what it was that people saw in watching young men assault each other on a field of artificial turf, just as we wonder why the Romans enjoyed seeing Christians being devoured by lions.

But for now, as Robert Earl Keen put it, "the road goes on forever and the party never ends."The executive sky boxes are full of wealthy businessmen who watch football games while sipping bourbon, and rich donors make tax-deductible contributions to LSU's three foundations, which have annual revenues totalling $100 million.  Who cares that Louisiana's educational system is crumbling and that almost half of Louisiana's children who start first grade never graduate from high school. All that matters, as LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva phrased it,  is that LSU be "in the hunt" to win football championships.

References

Ross Dellenger. LSU proposes 3-year contract extension for Alleva. The Baton Rouge Advocate, September 7, 2014, p. 17C.

Scott Rabalais. Highlight Night. The Baton Rouge Advocate, September 7,2014, p. 1C.

Roar Of Approval. Baton Rouge Advocate, September 7, 2014 p. 1A.

Gary Laney. Les Miles Staying at LSU. ESPN, November 28, 2012.  Available at: http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/8687452/les-miles-remain-football-coach-lsu-tigers-receive-extension-raise