Coaches, ADs cash in on academic success as schools brace for financial woes
Amid financial difficulties related to the coronavirus pandemic, there are some aspects of college sports business proceeding as usual. One involves the bonuses that some schools contractually owe coaches and athletics directors based on academic performance figures the NCAA announced this week.
Arizona State athletics director Ray Anderson stands to collect more than $575,000, making this at least the fourth consecutive year in which Sun Devil athletes’ collective classroom success has brought him more than $300,000.
Sun Devils football coach Herm Edwards is set to receive $350,000 based on his team’s result in the annually published NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) metric.
Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards is set to receive $350,000 based on his team’s result in the annually published NCAA Academic Progress Rate metric. (Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic)
Arizona State spokeswoman Katie Paquet confirmed in an email to the USA TODAY Network that bonuses earned by Anderson and Edwards will be paid.
The APR is a measure of academic progress/eligibility and retention of athletes. It is determined annually for each of a school’s teams, based on information schools must report to the NCAA eight weeks after the start of fall classes. The scores are not published by the association until the spring to allow for appeals and potential adjustments.
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A perfect score is 1,000 and teams must have a rolling four-year average of at least 930 to be eligible for postseason play. Some schools provide bonuses based on teams’ new single-year and/or multi-year scores. And even though the NCAA does not publish official scores until spring, some schools pay APR bonuses in the fall.
Representatives of schools other than Arizona State that were contacted by USA TODAY Sports also said they will, or intend to, pay incentives related to teams’ APR scores. This includes two schools that have announced that coaches and ADs will be taking pay cuts.
At South Carolina, football coach Will Muschamp is set to receive $75,000, men’s basketball coach Frank Martin $60,000 and, per Martin’s contract, his assistants are set to share $30,000. The football team’s multi-year APR was 967, the men’s basketball team's was 966.
“While the University of South Carolina continues to consider a broad range of cost savings measures, currently we intend to honor the academic incentives earned during the 2019-20 academic year,” senior associate athletics director for administration Chris Rogers said in an email.
At Northern Illinois, the football team’s multi-year APR of 962 will mean a $5,000 bonus for coach Thomas Hammock.
Athletics department spokeswoman Donna Turner said that pay reductions announced by NIU will take effect for the 2021 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Generally, athletics departments across the nation have seen their budgets for the 2020 fiscal year moderately impacted by pandemic-related revenue losses, since they occurred late in the year. The picture for 2021 is looking much worse, with a handful of schools having already announced they are dropping teams. At the broader institutional level, universities have been reporting and/or projecting hundreds of millions in losses. The Chronicle of Higher Education has identified more than 150 schools it says are “associated with a layoff, a furlough, or a contract nonrenewal resulting from” the pandemic.
Among schools that have not announced pay cuts for athletics personnel, men’s basketball or football coaches set for APR bonuses include Kentucky’s John Calipari ($50,000), Florida’s Dan Mullen and Mike White ($100,000 apiece) and Tennessee’s Rick Barnes ($100,000) and Jeremy Pruitt ($50,000).
At Michigan, where athletics director Warde Manuel has taken a 5% salary cut, the combination of the football team's new single-year and multi-year APR's contractually allow coach Jim Harbaugh to receive a bonus of up to $150,000, with the amount determined at the AD's discretion.
Arizona State has not announced any pay reductions for its athletic staff. Edwards’ contract says his bonus is based on him getting an amount equal to 5% of his current total annual compensation of $3.5 million if the team’s APR is at least 969 and additional amount equal to 5% of annual compensation if the APR is greater than 974. The contract doesn’t specify whether this is based on a single-year or multi-year number, but the single-year rate was 984, the multi-year 978.
Anderson's contract makes him eligible for bonuses keyed off his $800,000 base salary, based on the overall APR average for all Arizona State teams, the football team’s mark, the men’s basketball team mark and the number of teams that receive an NCAA APR Public Recognition Awards. (The awards go to any team whose multi-year rate is in the top 10% nationally among teams in their respective sport.)
Anderson can get from 2% of base salary to 25% for the overall APR; 2% to 17% for football and men basketball, respectively; plus one week’s salary for each team that gets a Public Recognition Award.
Arizona State announced its overall APR as 993, which gave Anderson 15% of base salary ($120,000), the football and men’s basketball marks each produced the maximum of 17% ($272,000) and 12 of the Sun Devils’ 23 teams won Public Recognition Awards ($184,615).
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