The other dirty secret about college athletics

There’s been an ongoing debate for some time now about whether or not college athletes should be able to make money off their brand, along with investigations into illegal payments to them under the table. But that’s not what this story is about. It’s worth debating whether or not the ball players should be able to cash in, but there are people in public universities who are already making a very fine living for themselves in a system which receives taxpayer dollars.

Let’s take Maryland for an example. Among all the state employees, who do you suppose makes the most money? The Governor or the Attorney General? Don’t be silly. Governor Hogan is bringing in $150K and he’s the highest paid public servant in the executive branch except for the Commissioner of Insurance who, for some reason, makes $166K. To find out who is really cashing in you’ll have to look elsewhere. Shall I give you a hint? He has nothing to do with any of the three branches of government.

Give up? He’s the basketball coach at the University of Maryland. Mark Turgeon made a cool $2.72 million (not a typo) last year, earning him the number one spot in the public salary records database. (Baltimore Sun)

Mark Turgeon’s team at the University of Maryland never made it into the Top 25 this season and missed out entirely on March Madness, but the men’s basketball coach made it to No. 1 among the state’s highest-paid employees in 2017.

Turgeon, who has five years left on his contract, earned $2.72 million to into the top spot, according to the state salary database released this week. That perch was occupied for several years by former Maryland football coach Randy Edsall, who was fired in 2015.

Edsall’s successor, DJ Durkin, ranked second among state employees with $2.49 million in income last year. Durkin is in the third year of the five-year contract he signed when he took over the football program.

Yep. The university’s basketball coach had the highest paid job on the public payroll. Coming in second was the new football coach. Daniel Durkin came in at just shy of $2.5M. In third place, breaking the glass ceiling, was Brenda Frese with a lowly $1.18M. In case you hadn’t guessed, Brenda is the women’s basketball coach.

You have to go all the way down to fourth and fifth place to find anyone who isn’t a college athletics coach. Stephen T. Bartlett ($951K) and Jay Perman ($945K) are the Chief Medical Officer and President of the University of Maryland respectively. Notice that while well paid, neither of them crack the million dollar mark like the coaches do. And the basketball coach with the highest salary didn’t even make it into the March Madness tournament. At least the women’s coach had one championship and four trips to the final four for her paltry $1.18 million.

These people are on the public payroll. Is this really that much of a value-add for the state that they can lay out that kind of money? And if you go into the educational system, wasn’t it supposed to be all about the kids? So much for that, I suppose.

If Maryland is so flush that they can burn this kind of cash coaching collegiate sports teams, how is it that they can’t afford new body armor and squad cars for the cops in Murder City… er, Baltimore? Better yet, if they really have to keep all that money inside the university system, perhaps it’s time to think about paying some of those players after all.