This summer, Deadspin, a sports website I visit often had a graphic (above) on states highest paid employees. To my surprise, over 50% of the states highest paid employee was a football coach. But after thinking this through, it made sense to me. Football is one of the biggest ways schools generate revenue. Throughout the last few years Division 1 schools have constantly changed conferences, and there was one common theme. Get into a strong football conference to lock up the best TV contract. The TV contracts for top-notch conferences range from $2 -4 billion. There are millions at stake for these universities, so why not pay coaches top dollar? It leads to a successful team, which puts money in your pocket.
I decided to revisit this article with my MGMT 302 thinking-cap on. The article does refute many of the first questions readers may have. For example no, they are not being paid out of your tax dollars. These athletic programs fund themselves; just for some numbers the top-13 revenue generating programs in 2012 earned over $100 billion. But the article also offers up some good ethical questions. Why do these coaches earn so much, but they players who risk their bodies, time and effort cannot claim a penny? Also a good coach doesn’t always lead to high revenue, for example Texas University generated the highest revenue in 2012, but their football team had a below average season.
Why aren’t we paying government officials this money, or university presidents? It is a tough question. Many can argue these individuals do a lot more than these football coaches and it is hard to disagree. But a legitimate counter argument is that a university president may serve a couple one or two hundred thousand at a university, while these coaches serve an entire state of fans where over 800,000 people buy tickets over a given season. Thus they are generating their revenue from a much larger base than these other individuals.
In the end I will never be able to determine if this is “right” or “wrong”, ethical or unethical. I have my sports fan bias, but I believe both sides have a legitimate argument that cannot persuade me either way, yet.
Article: State’s Highest Paid Employee