Williams, Friedgen pay on record

UM basketball coach guaranteed $1.3 million, grid coach, $1.1 million

April 28, 2004|By Ed Waldman and Kevin Van Valkenburg | Ed Waldman and Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams is guaranteed $1.3 million each year, while football coach Ralph Friedgen is guaranteed $1.1 million annually, according to contracts released yesterday by the university.

But the two coaches can add substantially to their pay with bonuses for winning games, favorable graduation rates and, in Friedgen's case, making sure his players are solid citizens.

The contracts, released in the wake of a decision April 15 by the Maryland Court of Appeals, were obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Sun two years ago.

Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow noted yesterday in an interview that the athletic department receives no state money for its operating budget, under a policy that dates to the mid-1970s.

She said Williams, 59, is the second-highest-paid basketball coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference and Friedgen, 57, is the third-highest-paid football coach, according to a survey published in October.

"We want Ralph to be competitive with the other ACC coaches who are doing great things, and we want Gary to be competitive with the other basketball coaches who are achieving at a high level," Yow said. "And they both are."

Yow said she wasn't certain who was ahead of the Maryland coaches, but published reports have put Williams behind Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Friedgen behind Bobby Bowden of Florida State and Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech, which will enter the ACC next year.

The football team is 31-8 in Friedgen's four years and has been to three consecutive bowl games. Williams' basketball program won the national title in 2002, has been to 11 straight NCAA tournaments, and last season captured its first ACC tournament title in 20 years.

Friedgen's current contract runs from Jan. 1, 2002, to Jan. 2, 2012, and Williams' from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2009.

Friedgen was not available for comment yesterday. Williams could not be reached.

Both men are among the highest-paid state employees.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is paid a $140,000 salary, while Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer each make $116,667.

In the University System of Maryland, 43 people made more than $250,000 in 2002, according to the payroll department in the comptroller's office, including Chancellor William E. Kirwan, who made $375,000, and Clayton D. Mote, the president at College Park, who made $357,999.

Dollars and sense

"It's unjustified economically and inappropriate educationally and morally for [the coaches] to receive the kind of salaries they do," said Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College and a critic of the fiscal aspect of big-time college athletics. "I think the structure of the salary, which has some piddling bonus for academic performance measured by graduation rates and much, much larger bonuses for competitive performance is also inappropriate in an educational environment."

"There's no question priorities are out of line," said Daniel Fulks, an economics professor at Transylvania University and author of the NCAA's biennial report on revenues and expenses. "We have some bad priorities. There's also no question that if you put that job out there and paid $200,000 a year, guys would be lined up for it. The line would go all the way around the building. Nonetheless, having said that, it's market-driven.

"If you want to hire the best history professor, you pay market for him or her. If you want to hire the best coach, you've got to pay what the market demands, whether I agree with the market or not. I'm not sure it's any more complicated than that."

Bob Leffler's Baltimore-based Leffler Agency is the advertising representative for seven Division I athletic departments. Leffler said it all comes down to "return on investment."

"The coach is winning, the place is full, you've got to look at the coach as part of the expense," he said. "If you choose the right coaches, there's a tremendous return on investment."

Big-time deals

Maryland's packages, though lucrative, still fall short of those for the best-compensated coaches in college football and basketball.

In football, Louisiana State's Nick Saban is guaranteed at least $2.3 million this year after leading his team to a national title last year. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Florida State's Bowden also make more than $2 million annually, and Texas' Mack Brown makes $1.7 million.

In basketball, Kentucky's Tubby Smith has an eight-year, $20 million contract, and Louisville's Rick Pitino has a six-year, $12.4 million deal.

Under the terms of Williams' contract, he can earn up to $1.87 million each year with bonuses and incentives, while Friedgen can earn up to $1.47 million under a similar agreement.

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