As many of you have probably read by now, Patrick Stevens over at the Washington Times did some great investigative journalism and through some freedom of information act requests determined that the assistant coaches for Maryland's Men basketball team are the lowest paid coaches in the ACC...and its not even close. Now, two things to consider before we go further. While we say "in the ACC" we really mean among the ACC's public schools. The private colleges (Duke, BC, Wake, and Miami (I always forget Miami is private)) aren't required to disclose any of their coaches salaries.
Aside from being the most underpaid assistants in the ACC, the Maryland staff is paid less than assistants for their Women's team! First off, I need to disclose that I'm all for women's athletics and I love the Lady Terps. But the biggest difference between the Men's team and the Women's team is simple - the Men's team brought in $10.8 mil last year where as the women's team, while one of the most popular women's teams in the Nation, ran a deficit.
Athletic director Debbie Yow said they've tried to give the coaches raises but have been unable to due to furloughs, hiring freezes and state budget cuts. I for one must question this for a number of reasons. First, I didn't think the state had that kind of control over the University, specifically the athletic department. Second, our state budget shortfalls due to the recession have been a problem for a few years (Maryland's state constitution states they must have a balanced budget every year, i.e. we can't run a deficit. Thus, when the amount of money they bring in falls, like during a recession, they have no choice but to make cuts to the current budget to avoid a deficit).
So if we've been experiencing economic troubles with our state for the past year or two, why and how can we come up with $1 million to pay James Franklin if he's not our next head football coach in 2011? Maybe that is part of the reason Ralph and his staff are still here but you'd think if you were in a situation where you knew you were heading into bad economic times, when you're sitting on lots of unsold suites in a newly expanded stadium, that you wouldn't name Franklin your coach in waiting and offer him a million bucks if that didn't happen.
As is the case with several of the things that go on in the athletic department, we're not behind closed doors to know why these decisions are made and why things are the way they are. But if the state of Virginia is experiencing similar budget problems as Maryland, how do you explain a drastically smaller program like George Mason paying their assistants more? Is there not a way to get around these state budget freezes to get this coaches more money (there might be with the bonuses they get based on performance, but those figures and terms haven't been disclosed, so our coaches could be taken care of and we just don't know it). Is there not a booster program for basketball like their is for football (The Maryland Gridiron Network)?
How do you folks feel about these revelations? I'd be curious to hear what Gary thinks. I just hope we don't lose some of these assistants. I think that more than anything else is what leads to some turmoil in a program (i.e. the few years when we missed the tournament).