I just gotta shout "Amen!" to Bill Friday's letter to the editor about the million dollar salary of UNC's new football coach.

I believe that those of us who are college sports fans, who believe in and respect the great value of team competition, must look ourselves in the mirror and ask what we are willing to do to "win." Are these the priorities our university should have in investing its resources? Where is this race "to win" taking us?
- | Your Letters

WCHL interviewed Dr. Friday and you can listen to it here:
How they can do this while raising tuitions and denying professors' requests for better salaries is beyond me.



Testosterone poisoning.

Good for you Bill Friday. When I first read the article about Davis, I thought the $1.7 or so million was for the entire seven years of his contract. Silly me.

This is obscene. There is no other word for it. Good for Bill Friday for telling the truth.

Where was Erskine Bowles when this contract was being negotiated?

before the knee-jerk reaction to the size of the numbers, consider this: last year unc's football program spent $10 million while generating $17.4 million in revenue.

anyone who believes in amateurism in college sports is blind to the reality of what's actually going on. it is a business. a business in which lots of money changes hands. as such, you have to invest money to make money, and there is always risk. will butch davis revitalize our floundering football program? maybe, maybe not. but with his successful resume, it's hard to say now without the benefit of hindsight that this is a bad investment.

erskine bowles and testosterone have nothing to do with it.


Big-time college sports might be big business and it certainly appears to be so at UNC and elsewhere. But the business of the University is, and should be, education. When sports gets to be a higher priority item than the original mission of the University it's time that the leaders step forward and do some explaining. And that means Bowles and Moeser, not their subordinates. I guess we now know why they needed a $2 million scoreboard in Kenan - to highlight their $2 million coach.

Bill Friday is perhaps the greatest figure in 20th-century North Carolina. When he speaks -- and he also spoke out about Roy Williams' compensation package -- I listen, and I think.

But I don't think this situation is as cut-and-dry as people make it out to be.

Some of the best and brightest students in the country, for example, are lured to Chapel Hill partly because they know they'll have an opportunity to engage with big-time college athletics. Athletics are visible; they can improve the talent we bring here.

And, as David alluded to above, the department needs to make money in football and men's basketball to provide revenue for sports with smaller profiles -- including every women's sport, even basketball. If Carolina hired a less talented coach at less money, that person could have the department losing money -- and severely hurting programs that have nothing to do with the "big-sports" attitude at the University. And that has effects well beyond the Bell Tower; how much of a positive effect has UNC's success in women's soccer had on young girls all over the Southeast?

I don't really know how I feel about these large salaries. They _are_ very large, and that gives me pause. But I know it's also not just an obsession with athletics that drives them.

Winning coaches are rock stars. They can command rock star compensation. If they're not rock stars, their compensation reflects their status. David Hodges makes an excellent point about the revenue potential of making good investments in the athletics program (42.5% ROI on football last year).

Consider this:

Total package per season: roughly $1.6 million
(note: UNC's Board of Trustees unanimously approved an eight-year contract in 2003. Why? Williams won more games in the first 15 seasons of his coaching career than anyone else in NCAA history. He has the highest winning percentage 80.5% among active coaches, and the third highest of all time.)

Total package per season: $1,488,888, according to Duke's 2003 tax return.
(note: his total coaching winning percentage is 75.1%. Coach K turned down a 5 year, $40 million deal with the Lakers in 2004 to stay at Duke)

Total package per season: roughly $1.86 million
(note: Davis received seven year contract through 2014. Why? Davis' college winning percentage is 71.8%)

Total package per season: roughly $650,000
(note: Bunting's lifetime college winning percentage was 57.7%)

Total package per season: at least $400,000

Total package per season: at least $200,000

Total package per season: roughly $800,000

Total package per season: roughly $900,000

Have you heard anyone crying out for Roy Williams or Coach K to renegotiate their compensation packages, which undoubtedly produce impressive returns on their individual sports program's investments?

Have you heard nothing but praise for UNC's Foundation Investment Fund 19.2% net investment return this year?

Recruiting the best available college football coach with a competitive compensation package could hardly be considered faulty judgment. Lets hope the University also has the good judgment to improve Roy Williams' package.

Compensation sources: and

While it's undeniable that Coach Davis is going to do very well for himself, look at where the money is coming from; taxpayers aren't footing the whole bill.

Also, the more successful the football program, the more visitors to CH, the more dollars into the hotels, restaurants and parking lots.

If this market rate that we've agreed to isn't right, what would be an acceptable amount to pay for a winning coach?


WUNC also interviewed Dr. Friday. He's got his dander up.

One letter in today's N&O says they ought to report coaches' salaries in the business section.

I had an interesting discussion with my brother-in-law over Thanksgiving about whether CEO compensation packages are overvalued, and whether they're justified. My personal opinion is that they are the former and not the latter, especially when the CEO is making thousands of times more than the janitors. He argued that a good CEO deserves good money, because if Company A won't pay it, Company B will, so he'll go there instead. Also, the good CEO will bring in oodles of money for the company (and the stockholders).

I think this is an analogous situation. I question whether anyone's skill or talent or ideas are worth that much money, and other people argue that the talent brings increased profits, and thus benefits the stockholders. It all depends on whom we consider to be the stockholders in the university sports business.

Does anyone know of a source for finding out how much Kenan-Flagler professors make in salary and outside compensation for consulting and sitting on boards, or professors who have patents and have spun off companies founded on their research? Is there any way to know who's getting outside income and why?

Don't forget the librarians! They are terribly underpaid as well, especially when compared to the (relatively wealthy) faculty.

re: source of money, what is much more obscene to me is the booster clubs' pushing through the "athletes count as in-state for tuition purposes law". The effect is that the state loses tuition revenue b/c the booster clubs only have to pay scholarships at an in-state tuition rate.

The salaries of UNC's coaches are not out of line with other salaries in the entertainment industry. The question is, why is UNC in that business? Because there is money to be made? Because everyone else is doing it? (my mother had a lot to say about that justification) Athletics may well have a place in higher education. But athle-tainment?

None of which diminishes my enjoyment of last night's roundball triumph. But wouldn't we enjoy Carolina hoops even if they only played regional teams and even if we had to watch Will Raymond sponsored podcasts rather than ESPN?

do we pay Will or does he pay us?

Yes, we would enjoy Carolina hoops if we only played regional teams, Dan. But -- and I think I speak for most students/recent grads -- it wouldn't be nearly as fun.

Will Raymond-sponsored podcasts, on the other hand, would be a serious step up from the ESPN announcing crew. I'd be more than happy to do play-by-play if Will did color.

Ummm, technically one "listens" to podcasts and watches vlogs (as Mr. Podcastercon BrianR taught me...). In either case, Dan said I'd sponsor them, not deliver them...

That aside, if invited to do so Chris, should I do them in the style of Renetto, Greg Solomon or ZenArcher?

Or the boringdispatcher, who at least keeps his shirt on....

"re: source of money, what is much more obscene to me is the booster clubs' pushing through the “athletes count as in-state for tuition purposes law”. The effect is that the state loses tuition revenue b/c the booster clubs only have to pay scholarships at an in-state tuition rate."

I absolutely agree that this is obscene.

However, that is only half of the story. Not only does the State lose money on these temporary "residents", but they count as in-state students with regard to the the residency cap. For every one that becomes a North Carolinian by proxy, there is a true North Carolinian who does not get into the University.

From an environmental standpoint, there should be regional competition. Save all those polluting & expensive jet flights.

Then have a true regional tournament with the top teams from the region. Then have the final 8 (from 8 regions) go to a national tournament.

Maybe with the cost savings, we wouldn't need the dirty tendrils of Progress Energy and others bribing - oh sorry - supporting the games.

Years ago athletics was an activity that students participated in alongside their academic schedules, not in place of their academic schedules. With big-time university sports being what it is today, our university athletes are essentially paid professionals biding their time in the "developmental" league. Most university athletes don't have the time to take a full academic load and many don't get to experience the true academic experience because their schedules are so tied to training, traveling, game days, etc. Yes, it is really just a huge entertainment industry driven by the boosters' dollars. Were there many out there who weren't smiling a bit to see lowly Rutgers having a cinderella of a football season?

You know, all this talk makes me really glad I went to a division III school for undergrad. Sports? What are sports?

I did a cost benefit analysis of the Florida State football program when I was in grad school. At that time, Bobby Bowden was (and probably still is) the highest paid state employee. There was a great deal of animosity toward the athletics program by the academic programs. However, what I found was that the money generated from sports (at Florida State anyway) played a significant role in academics. The school of education, among others, was able to have summer school thanks to funding from the athletic programs.

There was also a very signficant financial benefit to the town and to society. Just by going to college for a year, a person's future is changed--less likely to smoke, less likely to have a low birth weight baby, less likely to have run ins with the law, children are more likely to go to college, etc etc. My perspective on college sports changed completely as a result of that analysis--so did several professors.

However, I agree that giving out-of-state athletes in-state tuition/slots is just downright wrong. I also think those who get athletic scholarships should be required to pay them back if they leave college early for a major league contract.

Were there many out there who weren't smiling a bit to see lowly Rutgers having a cinderella of a football season?

Rutger's doubled its football spending between the 1998 season and this season from $7 million to $13.2 million.


And I think it's unfair to say it's "just a huge entertainment industry." School spirit is something you can't measure quantitatively, or even qualitatively, because it means so many different things to so many different people. Nobody made a decision one night to make amateurism in college sports a joke, which is why nobody is going to make a decision one night to all of a sudden change it back to this made-up, nostalgic notion of purely linked academics and athletics. Because if anyone believes that there haven't always been athletes who value their sport over their education, they're kidding themselves. I agree that academics play a more significant role in society than sports, but sports inspire people in ways that Aristotle and Keynesian economics cannot. And when they're being played at that "highest level," they inspire people that much more.

I guess this is one of those rare instances where I disagree with my friends at OP.

George, I wasn't smiling a bit when Rutgers beat UNC :)

But it's ironic you mention them. The architect of their resurrection, Greg Schiano, was Butch Davis' right hand man at Miami, another indication in my mind that we got the right guy.

If Coach Davis can get us back into the top 10, or even just into the top 25, the amount of money both direct and indirect that will pour into the university and the town's economy will be staggering.

When we win, people stay around and go buy stuff at A Southern Season, go out to dinner, buy memorabilia, etc. When we lose they just go home.

I never would have even thought about going to UNC if not for the athletic program. Watching Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter and wanting to be a part of it made me dig deeper into UNC and realize its academic program and the community in which it is located really appealed to me too. But that high flying exciting 97-98 basketball team gave me the impetus to do that research.

I think it's ridiculous that coaches get paid this much too, but if that's the way the market has progressed it, then I'm glad we're playing in it. Ultimately I think Davis will be more than worth it.

That said, all of your points about his contract and the over commercialization of college sports are perfectly reasonable- I just respectfully disagree.

I'm surprised people are so shocked by this. This is the cost of bringing a competitive program to UNC, Butch Davis could coach in the professional ranks. College sports are big business now, there's no way around it. I noticed C.Diane mentioned Division III, I went to a Division III school too and I can bet that Carolina fans wouldn't put up with the quality of sports produced in Division III.

For years, the ACC has been the professional sports surrogate for area residents. Without a major league baseball team, NBA, NFL, or NHL team residents built up loyalties to college teams. College sports have built themselves up and really become on par with professional sports. The only difference is that the players are younger and they don't get paid. The sin here is that these student athletes aren't getting a cut of the profits.

The outrage is not what Coach Davis will be making. It is how many people work just as hard at UNC and make less than 2% of the coach's salary.

Dan said, "The salaries of UNC's coaches are not out of line with other salaries in the entertainment industry. The question is, why is UNC in that business? Because there is money to be made? "

To which I think the reply must be: Yes.

Marty said, "The sin here is that these student athletes aren't getting a cut of the profits." And he is, I think, wrong.

The money they make is what's allowing all of their fellow athletes (Diving, Lax, tennis, ...even women's soccer) to have fields to play on, equipment to use. The athletics fee, high as it already is, would be astronomical if students carried the burden of these other programs.

Do you want our state's flagship school need to provide the athletics opportunities that students demand?

And while we're at it, go buy officially licensed merchandise...UNC's been number one in apparel until this year. Damned Longhorns out did us. That's money out of our scholarship fund.



I had forgotten that Rutgers beat UNC. I only meant to say that it was fun to see a team come out of nowhere to excel, even if they did step up their spending over the last few years as was pointed out by David Hodges. Wake Forest is another team that has far exceeded anyone's expectations and I think it is great to see that happen at least once and awhile.

There have been some really good comments on this thread but the one I like the most is Mark Chilton's "The outrage is not what Coach Davis will be making. It is how many people work just as hard at UNC and make less than 2% of the coach's salary."

I wouldn't object so much to the commercialization if the benefits really did percolate down but I'm not convinced that is the case at UNC or any of the other major universities. There are too many professors and TAs and workers having to make do with less while we build bigger & better & fancier athletic facilities. I know that the athletics have an overall benefit to the University but I'm not sure that we've achieved the right balance. Having gone to a Division III school, though, we never had to worry about these kinds of issues so I probably have an entirely different (and perhaps irrelevant) perspective.

On a side note, when Bob Knight was the chair throwing basketball coach at Indiana he donated his salary to the library. I found that out from a librarian there, it wasn't anything he puplicized. Don't know if he is still doing that in Texas.

Even those of us who take pride in our civic engagement must remain vigilant lest we fall into Juvenal's famous category:

The people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now concerns itself no more, and longs eagerly for just two things - bread and circuses!

Just as important is his question, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?", "Who shall guard the guards themselves?"

Wouldn't "who umps the umps?" be more topical?

And, also relevant, "Who put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong?" I'll leave it to Fred to provide the Latin.

Here is a quote from USToday that discussing the financial impact football has at UT-Austin, where Mack Brown earns nearly $2.7 million a year.

"At Texas, for example, the return on the sizable investment in Brown is a pre-eminent football program that last season won the school's first football national championship in 35 years and accounted for 62% of all the Longhorns' athletics revenues, turning a $42 million profit. Football essentially underwrote 17 other sports at the school that don't make money — all but men's basketball and baseball."

Who will line up over said guards? Who will shoot the gap? Who will pack the box? These are urgent questions.

Now hit it.

There's no argument that a successful athletics program can be good business.

UNC's program would probably be even more profitable if we charged professional sports franchises a small fee for recruiting talent and running their "minor leagues".

I see this discussion fitting within a broader context - the role business plays within our public education institutions. Can you make a linkage between a coaches salary, a salary 50 to 100 times greater than that of support staff, and the "interesting" deals the Monsantos/Glaxos/Mercks/Lockheed-Martins/etc. make with the University?

I like the idea of a self-supporting program - whether in the sciences or sports - but I'm troubled by the lack of debate the wider community has on the trade-offs inherent in doing these "big bidness" deals.

I recall that a conversation I had years ago (I think with TerriB) where describing the internal debates the educational community had/were having on business and the potential distortion that a business-only perspective can have on our public educational institutions.

Friday is pointing out that the values driving CEO salary increases are not the same values that our institutions should be operating under...

The outrage is not what Coach Davis will be making. It is how many people work just as hard at UNC and make less than 2% of the coach's salary.

But isn't that true of any organization? I'd wager a bet that if we looked at annual income levels of Carrboro elected officials and Carrboro staff, we would find some major disparities. Perhaps not on the scale of UNC housekeeper vs UNC football/basketball coach--but what's an acceptable spread?


Twenty years ago or so the spread between a corporate CEO's salary and the lowest paid employee was probably about 20-fold. Now it's probably about 100-1000-fold. I don't think the spread between our local elected officials and staff would come even close to any of these. Are you suggesting that Mark C. makes at least 20X the lowest paid staff member? or even 10X for that matter?

I didn't say a thing about Mark C, George. I just pointed out that there are salary discrepancies in every organization. My question was philosophical. I have no idea what Mark C's income is, since he's a realtor and a landlord as well as mayor. But I do know what the town staff salaries are and yes, I believe there is at least a 10x spread between the highest and the lowest paid. The same, or higher, discrepancies exist within the OWASA staff and the Chapel Hill town staff.

So is 10x OK? How about 20X? How much of a difference can be explained by the drive to recruit highly trained professionals and how much can be labeled as obscene?

FWIW, to me coaching salaries are simply signals of a system that is completely out of whack. But I'm having a hard time getting more worked up by 1-2 coaching salaries when it's the professionals and executives who are driving the escalating income greed.

This seems somehow relevant:

I was at the UNC women's soccer game tonight. At the end of the team bench were two water coolers, each had "NCAA " emblazoned above "Dasani". When the water ran out of the coolers, somebody came out with some cases of small plastic bottles of Dasani and poured water into the coolers out of these numerous little water bottles.

What OWASA not good enough? Pretty hilarious considering Coca Cola's Dasanti is "purified" tap water.

Hope they weren't playing Charlotte's team cause that's where their water was coming from....

Major math burp earlier--there is only about a 6x difference in bottom & top salary levels within Carrboro, slightly higher for OWASA (~8X) and Chapel Hill.

I think a point was lost here, that most of the money is coming from private sources (Rams Club). I think Friday's letter was a bit misleading by omitting that fact (perhaps the CHNews' fault for not clarifying).

With that fact in mind, I can't help but feel that people are begrudging Davis for his fortune rather than the University for mismanaging priorities. Collegiate sports are part of our culture--and if its going to be done, I'm glad it's with private money.

I also concur with MarkC... that our focus should be on the lowest, rather than the highest. Perhaps the Rams Club needs a complementary organization, the Heels Club that raises money to increase salaries of the lowest paid. I am sure the University would just as gladly accept that money as well.

While I think coaching salaries are way out of whack Mark C hit on the bigger issue - the difference between the top and bottom rungs in the University's pay ranges. I would guess that the Chancellor's pay is at least 20-30 times that of the lowest paid workers (I'm sure WillR has these numbers someplace handy). I thought it was great last year when I read that the CEO of COSTCO had a salaray that was less than 10 times the average COSTCO worker's salary (I think it was something like $340K vs $38K). At least one corporation is trying to hold the line. According to Terri's numbers, that range (less than 10-fold) is closer to where our local municipalities are in terms of bottom-to-top ranges. Wouldn't it be nice if the booster clubs saw fit to try to narrow that range in the University by raising the salaries of the lowest paid workers?

BTW, this is not meant to single out UNC - I'm sure all of the major universities have disparities which are equally disappointing.

Terri, I think the highest paid employee at the town of Carrboro makes less than 5 times what the lowest paid full-time employee does. I don't know that much about the personal finances of my fellow board members, but I think it is safe to say that no member of the Board of Aldermen makes any more money than our top paid staff member - and in any case, the Town pays its various elected officials between $5,000 and $10,000 per year.

Coach Davis by contrast will be making well over 50 times what UNC housekeepers make. Also it is notable that Coach Davis is not remotely the highest ranking employee at the University. That would of course be Roy. ;)

So the difference in pay-scale spreads between UNC and Carrboro is an entire order of magnitude. I looked at that issue some years ago at the Town of Chapel Hill and the spread from top to bottom was also 5-1 at that time.

But as I say, the issue is not so much what Coach Davis will be paid, as what eveyone else makes.

I'm going to disagree with Mark on this one. As long as we have a culture that condones and even celebrates obscene levels of income and consumption will will not be able to adequately address the question "what everyone else makes." After all, it's not like there's no link between the two.

Moments after posting the above, an email arrived with the Jim Webb op-ed from the Nov 15 Wall Street Journal (sorry, I don't have a link). Webb makes the relevant point that:

The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has
grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes...

Trickle-down economics didn't happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and
salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth.

This ever-widening divide is too often ignored or downplayed by its beneficiaries. A sense of entitlement has set in among elites, bordering on hubris.

I don't mean to offend anyone by pointing out that those who offer an unqualified defense of Davis' compensation are apologists for this system. And, such disparities in compensation are pervasive at UNC, beyond just the area of athletics. See for example, the question of hospital administrative salaries discussed here recently.

In 2005, Chancellor Moeser was given a salary increase to $309,897. I believe that Davis is being paid $286,000 from state funds. Roy Williams' base (state funded) salary is $260 according to the News & Observer. I haven't been able to find a reference for housekeepers, but I believe their salaries start at around $18,000 (about 17 times less than the chancellor). Of course both coaches receive many times their salary from non-state funding sources as well as benefits that are truly obscene. The fact that Davis just fired two coaches who will receive more than $500,000 as penalty for early release is also troubling. However, salaries just don't tell the whole story since winning sports teams fund many academic opportunities and stimulate the local economy.

The lowest paid entry salary for the town of Carrboro is custodian, at $20,000 and the last published record for the town manager was $129,000 (6.5 times more than entry custodian, more if you count the free car).


I don't read anyone here being apologists for coaching salaries. I do think some of us are trying to point out that disparities exist throughout the entire economy, including local systems other than just the university. Focusing ONLY on 1-2 coaches is ignoring the larger social justice issue.

Moeser was bumped to $337,800
in early Sept.

As I noted then part of the problem is the acceleration of increases:

And that $32,000 bump was in addition to the 2005's %13 $31,500 increase - which at the time drew some deserved ire. The BOG's taxpayer-financed two-year largesse has landed Moeser $63,500 or just a few thousand dollars shy of the current regional average salary of $69K.



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.