$alary $tructure: UT athletic department pay tops $20M

As the elevator opens to the fourth floor of the Lawson Center, the lush offices of Tennessee athletics unfurl. Expansive windows peer out over the indoor field of UT’s pristine Football Training Center.

End of the hall, last door on the left, Dave Hart stands atop a custom Vols carpet. The Tennessee athletic director gets the corner office.

As the first Tennessee AD to preside over both the men’s and women’s athletic departments, Hart is accountable for overseeing department finances and staffing, steering plans for building and improving facilities, and, of course, winning.

That first caveat — finances and staffing — is complex.

Money is the keystone of collegiate athletics. Lavish offices and facilities have become the norm and coaches’ salaries continue to climb despite stormy financial times.

Hart calls himself, “a steward of our resources.”

Among those resources is a total of $20,860,006 in athletic department salaries to 195 employees, according to records obtained by the News Sentinel through a public records request in early June. Of that sum, $13.3 million goes directly to coaches and support staff.

Discussing the numbers on Thursday, Hart said he’s “comfortable” with his department’s salary expenditures and that Tennessee is “in line” with programs of its size and stature.

Tennessee’s cash cow — football — produces 90 percent of the department’s revenue and accounts for 44.1 percent of the base salaries among university coaches. An 11-man coaching staff and 10-man support staff comes with a $5.9 million price tag.

At the top, the trio of coach Derek Dooley ($2 million annually), defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri ($750,000) and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney ($550,000) represents $3.3 million in salaries.

On the bottom, football’s lowest-paid assistants — cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley and safeties coach Josh Conklin — check in at $200,000 apiece, salaries larger than six head coaches in athletics, as well as the individual co-head coaches of softball and women’s tennis.

Those numbers are similar throughout the SEC. It’s the reality of big-time football.

“When you have one program representing that much of your revenue, as an entity, it is imperative that we do all we can collectively to recover in football,” said Hart, whose salary comes to $750,000.

If that’s the case, though, then is 44.1 percent enough? UT’s 11-man coaching staff combines to make $5,215,000 per year — just over $400,000 less than Alabama coach Nick Saban is due to earn next season.

Dooley ranks ninth in salary among SEC football coaches.

“It’s hard to draw a level of comparison based on where programs are from a success rate,” Hart said.

A similar dichotomy exists in men’s basketball as well. John Calipari, coach of national-champion Kentucky, made $5.4 million last season. The entire men’s and women’s basketball staffs at Tennessee will make $3.9 million next year — combined.

Asked if that vast gulf between UT’s coaches and the conference’s two premier coaches is a concern, Hart swiftly replied, “No.”

He drew parallels to former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, long the highest paid women’s coach in the SEC.

“Pat Summitt was worth every penny she made,” Hart said. “When you win eight national titles, come on back and we’ll meet again. I’ve never been hesitant for rewarding people for performance.”

Having stepped down to a head coach emeritus role, Summitt’s salary is now $354,375.

As a result of the nearly completed marriage of UT’s men’s and women’s athletic departments, 17 staff positions were eliminated in April. Fifteen of the jobs were department employees, while the remaining two were from the development office, but working in athletics. The names of the 15 in the athletic department were provided through an open records request and UT said there were no severance packages offered.

The combined base salaries of the 15 eliminated employees totaled $714,751 based on salary records. Seven were administrative support specialists earning under $40,000. Senior associate athletics director Desiree Reed-Francois boasted the highest salary at $111,211.

Though April’s press release announcing the “reorganization” championed a projected $2.5 million in savings, Hart said Thursday that the decision was based not on dollars, but on sense. Describing the staff reduction as “layoffs” or “cutbacks,” he said, is inaccurate.

“I think that’s a misnomer,” said Hart, who voiced concern over his department’s mere $14,000 surplus and $5 million reserve nest egg during April’s UT athletics board spring meeting. “I don’t have any cost-cutting goals. I don’t. We went through a right-sizing, which was a byproduct of combining separate programs. We had an inordinate number of people in a lot of duplication.”

Hart’s executive staff consists of seven associate athletic directors. Combined with his $750,000 salary, the Tennessee executive staff earns $1.9 million.

Former women’s athletic director Joan Cronan, who now serves the athletic department in a senior advisor role, receives $355,000.

Among coaches, men’s basketball’s Cuonzo Martin earns $1.3 million, second only to Dooley. Women’s basketball coach Holly Warlick makes $485,000, while baseball’s Dave Serrano pulls in $450,000.

In the 14-school SEC, Martin’s salary ranks 10th among men’s basketball coaches, while Warlick and Serrano are each sixth in their respective sports.

Outside of the football program, the highest paid assistant coach in the department is Kyra Elzy in women’s basketball. Hired on April 26, she’s ticketed to make $225,000.

UT accounts for the highest-paid SEC coaches in women’s tennis (Mike and Sonia Patrick, $112,882 each) and in Conference USA in rowing (Lisa Glenn, $109,725), and ranks among the top three in the SEC in softball, track and field, men’s tennis, swimming and diving, volleyball and soccer.

Every program in the department except men’s and women’s golf pays out more than $200,000 for its head and assistant coaches.

“Our Olympic coaches,” Hart said, “are pretty well compensated, for the most part.”

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 24

vut5686#1405392 writes:

"UT Salary structure tops $20 Million" So? What is the point of this article? The other day, KNS listed..without editorilizing, individual salaries of most management personnel within the UT Athletic Dept.

What are the salaries of TVA officials? Other of the top five employers in the Knoxville area?

This article starts by describing the plush facilites at UT, as if a nice working environment is somehow wrong. That, plus the amount of many salaries seems excessive to those who struggle to support UT by attending a few games. Or many, who can never imagine being able to afford a single game.

The article finally points out quite clearly that UT is near the bottom of salaries within the SEC...their competition. While that is shown, the inference of the headline and lead in has made it's point: those outrageous salaries within the UTAD.

The listing previously was sufficient, to the point. I guess the hint of a negative by a reporter probably overpaid at $25M, seemed a good idea for controversy; It turns out just pointless.

dewey0022 writes:

Ok. I just want to say these coaches make incredible money; both on the womens and mens side of athletic departments.

Hart drew parallels to former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, long the highest paid women’s coach in the SEC.

“Pat Summitt was worth every penny she made,” Hart said. “When you win eight national titles, come on back and we’ll meet again. I’ve never been hesitant for rewarding people for performance.”

Didn't Pat Summitt make 1 million per year upon her sudden retirement? What makes Cuonzo Martin worth 1.3 million per year? How many NCAA appearances has he made leading a vol team? Today is the 40th annaversery of title 9 and a proven womens coach is still making less than an unproven mens coach? In this day and age it should be addressed!

Also, Holly Warlick has been with Tennessee for over 27 years and they are paying her less than 1/3 of her mens counterpart???? If I were her I would be just disgusted, but again 485,000 is a lot of money. This sounds like blatent wage discrimination if you ask me, and that is coming from a man. Equal work = Equal pay. To me it actually looks as though the womens basketball program at Tennessee has worked harder to bring attention to the university than the mens so maybe the wages should be reversed in the area of basketball anyway. Can anyone say Lilly Ledbetter Act? Just Sayin:) No wonder I have had to read about all of these gosh aweful lawsuits filed from the womens athletic department as of late. Let me reiterate the words I just read from Sports Director Hart, "Pay for performance" or something to that extent anyway. Have a great day!!

GerryOP writes:

What baffles me is why the KNS sports department loves to stir the UT pot? Where in the hell would the KNS sports department be without UT? Let me guess, a couple of apprentice writers and a copy clerk? They seem to think that reporting sports consists of posting 100 of Rucker's tweets every day.

At one time someone complained about Rucker's junk. Rucker's reply? He gets paid to post his "junk," we post our "junk" for free! He followed that with something like "Who's stupider?"

GerryOP writes:

"$alary $tructure: UT athletic department pay tops $20M" What's your point?

Caspian writes:

in response to GerryOP:

"$alary $tructure: UT athletic department pay tops $20M" What's your point?

Apparently, the point is to piggy-back on the culture of class warfare, gotcha politics, and sensationalism the current political climate and mainstream media is so fond of promoting these days.

bigdisbig writes:

UT is already at the bottom of the SEC in total athletic performance according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press so why beat a dead horse and rant on the salaries? You get what you pay for.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

Little off-topic, but I figured some on here may have heard of this guy....

http://www.wavy.com/dpp/news/crime/te...

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

Little off-topic, but I figured some on here may have heard of this guy....

http://www.wavy.com/dpp/news/crime/te...

..and, yes, kids today SUCK!!!!!

GerryOP writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

..and, yes, kids today SUCK!!!!!

A name from the past. Had a couple of classes with him back in the day.

volwr88 writes:

in response to Caspian:

Apparently, the point is to piggy-back on the culture of class warfare, gotcha politics, and sensationalism the current political climate and mainstream media is so fond of promoting these days.

Sean Hannity's a Vol fan !!!

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

“'It’s hard to draw a level of comparison based on where programs are from a success rate,' Hart said."

Actually, it isn't. The programs that pay for successful coaches win and the programs that don't...well, they end up losing. This isn't rocket science.

rtrchatt writes:

in response to GerryOP:

What baffles me is why the KNS sports department loves to stir the UT pot? Where in the hell would the KNS sports department be without UT? Let me guess, a couple of apprentice writers and a copy clerk? They seem to think that reporting sports consists of posting 100 of Rucker's tweets every day.

At one time someone complained about Rucker's junk. Rucker's reply? He gets paid to post his "junk," we post our "junk" for free! He followed that with something like "Who's stupider?"

Spot on. WR is truly the village idiot.

vols37 writes:

Dooley makes about $1.9 million to much.

givehim6 writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

UT is already at the bottom of the SEC in total athletic performance according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press so why beat a dead horse and rant on the salaries? You get what you pay for.

Need to elaborate on your statement please. Yes UT had a pretty bad year in football, and Pat did not go out with another NC, but UT being on th bottom of the SEC in all sports? Sounds a bit dramatic buddy

givehim6 writes:

in response to givehim6:

Need to elaborate on your statement please. Yes UT had a pretty bad year in football, and Pat did not go out with another NC, but UT being on th bottom of the SEC in all sports? Sounds a bit dramatic buddy

Sorry I did not prof read your whole statment befor posting, these blanking troll give me the trigger finger sometimes.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to GerryOP:

"$alary $tructure: UT athletic department pay tops $20M" What's your point?

My opinion: UT should spend whatever it takes to have the best sports programs around. I think the article is suggesting that UT is spending huge amounts of money without the results they would like to see..But any businessman knows you have to spend money before you can make money. UT is laying the foundation for huge returns in wins and attendance figures..GBO!

GerryOP writes:

in response to volwr88:

Sean Hannity's a Vol fan !!!

Dang! That explains a lot of things!

GerryOP writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

My opinion: UT should spend whatever it takes to have the best sports programs around. I think the article is suggesting that UT is spending huge amounts of money without the results they would like to see..But any businessman knows you have to spend money before you can make money. UT is laying the foundation for huge returns in wins and attendance figures..GBO!

'zactly Bipolar. We've had a lot of chaos last the few years and now Hart seems to be pulling things back together. But I guess for writers who get a nickel a word or twenty-five cents a column-inch, $20 mil is a lot of money. And it is, but for some professional ballplayers, that's not even a year's salary!

I just don't get why KNS keeps giving UT football the pitchfork! Fulmer threw most of them out except one. Austin Ward maybe? Kiffin would only speak with Hooker. Now Dooley seems to be favoring Brent Hubbs and his gang. I guess we're seeing a classic example of "Floggings will continue until morale improves."

VolunteerLifer writes:

So far, Dooley hasn't done anything to justify getting paid more than he is now, if that. And so far, Martin hasn't either (though Martin looks like he will in the near future. Dooley? we'll see). So, their salaries, relative to others in the conference, are justified. But if they start winning big, they will have to be adjusted upward in order to keep them. That is, if we wish to remain competitive in the SEC.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to dewey0022:

Ok. I just want to say these coaches make incredible money; both on the womens and mens side of athletic departments.

Hart drew parallels to former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, long the highest paid women’s coach in the SEC.

“Pat Summitt was worth every penny she made,” Hart said. “When you win eight national titles, come on back and we’ll meet again. I’ve never been hesitant for rewarding people for performance.”

Didn't Pat Summitt make 1 million per year upon her sudden retirement? What makes Cuonzo Martin worth 1.3 million per year? How many NCAA appearances has he made leading a vol team? Today is the 40th annaversery of title 9 and a proven womens coach is still making less than an unproven mens coach? In this day and age it should be addressed!

Also, Holly Warlick has been with Tennessee for over 27 years and they are paying her less than 1/3 of her mens counterpart???? If I were her I would be just disgusted, but again 485,000 is a lot of money. This sounds like blatent wage discrimination if you ask me, and that is coming from a man. Equal work = Equal pay. To me it actually looks as though the womens basketball program at Tennessee has worked harder to bring attention to the university than the mens so maybe the wages should be reversed in the area of basketball anyway. Can anyone say Lilly Ledbetter Act? Just Sayin:) No wonder I have had to read about all of these gosh aweful lawsuits filed from the womens athletic department as of late. Let me reiterate the words I just read from Sports Director Hart, "Pay for performance" or something to that extent anyway. Have a great day!!

As a government employee earning approximately $.034 million, plus room and board, it's hard for me to wrap my head around some of these salaries, but everything is relative. I agree that it does seem odd that our second year men's basketball coach makes so much more than Holly Warlick. The disparity between men's and women's coaching salaries seems to be an accepted norm in college sports. The salaries that surprised me the most were those of Sunseri and Chaney. I wonder how a veteran offensive coordinator like Chaney feels about receiving $200,000.00 a year less than our new defensive coordinator, who I don't believe has ever been a coordinator before. I know he has NFL experience as a defensive line coach, and had the title of "assistant head coach" at Alabama, and is probably well worth his salary, but I still wonder if there might be some resentment by Chaney.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to Caspian:

Apparently, the point is to piggy-back on the culture of class warfare, gotcha politics, and sensationalism the current political climate and mainstream media is so fond of promoting these days.

huh?

GerryOP writes:

in response to Caspian:

Apparently, the point is to piggy-back on the culture of class warfare, gotcha politics, and sensationalism the current political climate and mainstream media is so fond of promoting these days.

Well said.

saveourearth#227093 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

But, but, but...
You are forgetting about the original main purpose for investment in the success of sports teams on the college level. It is a way to provide university exposure to the "outside" world, and to ENGAGE ALUMNI IN A SUPPORTIVE ROLE. This is more important than ever, now that the academic side of UT is edging closer and closer to complete privatization. To me, the mindset of justifying a sport's existence based on outside revenue it brings in is further evidence that UT's football program is so far outside the norm of the purpose of college sports, it should just break off and become a semi-pro team.

voloffaith writes:

in response to saveourearth#227093:

But, but, but...
You are forgetting about the original main purpose for investment in the success of sports teams on the college level. It is a way to provide university exposure to the "outside" world, and to ENGAGE ALUMNI IN A SUPPORTIVE ROLE. This is more important than ever, now that the academic side of UT is edging closer and closer to complete privatization. To me, the mindset of justifying a sport's existence based on outside revenue it brings in is further evidence that UT's football program is so far outside the norm of the purpose of college sports, it should just break off and become a semi-pro team.

I didn't know Al Gore was a UT fan.....go hug a tree everyone it is recess......one post and this is it...you will go down in history as the famous 'saveourearth'.....remember Al created recycling......along with the internet.....buying CARBON CREDITS...cough...cough. Is the sky falling today??? College sports is what it is....athletes get to play them and most sports don't pay their way. Title 9 had good intentions for inclusion....no problem with intent. Big boy sport of futbol has always and will continue to be the cash cow at major institutions of learning....

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