When Eric Hyman started out in college athletics, as a graduate
assistant with Furman football in the 1970s, he made $200 a month, for
nine months. He also moonlighted as a dean at a junior college ($3,600
annually) and painted houses in the summer.
"That's what you had to do to make it work," he says. "You rubbed two nickels together."
days Hyman, 62, is athletics director at Texas A&M, where he can
make a cool $1 million if he hits all his bonus targets. Pauline Hyman,
his wife of 39 years, never imagined back then that he'd make so much
"There was a popular TV show called The Millionaire (in the 1950s and '60s)," she says. "So I guess a lot of people had that fantasy, but, honestly, I never thought about it."
directors at schools in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision (excluding
four that moved up to the FBS in 2012) make an average salary of
roughly $515,000, up more than 14% since USA TODAY Sports last looked at
AD compensation in October 2011.
Sayler makes $220,000 as athletics director at Miami of Ohio, much less
than the average, but his school is a useful lens through which to view
trends in AD compensation, because it turns out that Miami, long known
as a cradle of coaches, is also something of a cradle of athletics
Johnson, who preceded Hyman as Miami's AD, went on to Temple and
Memphis, where he retired last year. Joel Maturi, who succeeded Hyman,
moved on to Minnesota, where he retired as AD last year. And Brad Bates,
who succeeded Maturi, switched to Boston College late last year.
"In the food chain of college athletics," Hyman says, "Miami is a great place to learn."
was making $451,900 at Minnesota in 2011. Johnson was making $332,500
at Memphis in 2011. Bates was making $193,800 at Miami in 2011; what he
makes at Boston College is unclear because private schools are not bound
by the same disclosure laws.
"We all came through Miami and made a lot of money somewhere else," Maturi says.
this comes at a time when academic spending at many schools is
declining or not increasing at the same pace as athletics spending,
according to a recent report by the Delta Cost Project at the non-profit
American Institutes for Research that was based on data from the
Education Department and data collected by USA TODAY Sports for its
annual College Athletics Finances Database.
athletics directors earn every penny. He defines the job's degree of
difficulty with admirable concision: "Sell more tickets. Raise more
money. Win more games. Graduate everybody. And don't cheat."
He could have added build more buildings and don't caught without a seat in the musical chairs of conference realignment.
"I know one thing," Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich says. "The ADs around the country are earning their money."
number making $1 million or more is up to nine from six, including
Jurich. The number making $800,000 or more is up to 15 from nine,
Jurich is the highest-paid athletics director at a
public school. His complex deal, valued at a little more than $1.4
million, is nearly $180,000 more than the next highest. "Let's hope that
continues, huh?" he says.
JURICH'S DEAL: Louisville AD could get 250k if fired for cause
Johnson was athletics director at Eastern Illinois when he got an offer
to be athletics director at Miami of Ohio in 1988. He couldn't believe
how much money he'd make.
"I think it was $100,000," Johnson says.
"I know my wife and I thought, 'My goodness, how are we going to spend
all this money?' "
Johnson succeeded Dick Shrider, who had been
athletics director since 1964 and was Miami's basketball coach before
that. Moving from bench to front office was typical for ADs in that era.
was a time when nobody knew what an athletics director did," Johnson
says. "People thought it was some coach they moved upstairs so he could
schedule football games and play golf. Hey, that's what I thought when I
wanted to become one."
The reality these days is that athletics
directors have multiple interlocking responsibilities. They're CEOs of a
sort. They fundraise. They hire coaches - in the cases of football and
men's basketball, often for salaries many times more than their own -
and they manage their coaches' talents and egos. Or try to.
don't remember who said it," Johnson says, "but a president at one of
the meetings I was in one time made a comment on the value of an
athletics director: 'You can't put a price tag on it because you've got
to have somebody to stay between you and the coaches.' "
Calipari makes well over $5 million to coach basketball at the
University of Kentucky. Calipari worked for Johnson at Memphis and
received amended contracts for more and more money nearly every year.
ADs, we're the ones who created this," Johnson says. "Paying coaches
unbelievable amounts of money, but that's what you do. Right or wrong
becomes irrelevant. That's what we've done."
Hyman made $690,000
in his last year at South Carolina, including $540,000 from the
university, $75,000 for a radio show and $75,000 in bonuses. He can make
as much as $1 million at Texas A&M, including up to $200,000 in
Hyman earned a $60,000 bonus for Texas A&M's
appearance in the Cotton Bowl. He can earn a $25,000 bonus if, as
expected, its ranked women's basketball team makes the NCAA tournament
field. He can earn as much as $20,000 for academic success of various
teams, and he expects to reach most of that. The potential bonuses add
up to far more than $200,000, but his maximum bonus is capped at that
"Our teams are having an excellent year," Hyman says.
A&M President R. Bowen Loftin says he makes $525,000 a year,
including $100,000 in deferred compensation. He says he also got a
$20,000 bonus in 2012. His athletics director makes much more.
the way it is, sir," Loftin says. "You learn that right away in this
kind of league (Southeastern Conference). ... It's a marketplace out
there. I was very familiar with what ADs were being paid in the SEC in
particular and across the other conferences in general."
The cradle of ADs
week, Miami announced that a bronze statue of Baltimore Ravens coach
John Harbaugh will join the cradle-of-coaches display outside Yager
Stadium. Sayler says recruits know about Harbaugh but not so much about
coaching greats such as Paul Brown, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler and
Sayler made $170,000 in base salary at South Dakota
and got a $50,000 raise to come to Miami, he says, adding that his
potential bonuses are bigger at Miami, too.
"When that opportunity
opened, it was a no-brainer," he says. "Not only because of the way the
university conducts its business, but when you look at it in the
context of the people I'm following, it's an honor to sit in this
Maturi, who is a special assistant to the president at
Minnesota, says he talks to Hyman, Bates and Johnson. "We all look back
at our time at Miami with great fondness," Maturi says. "We all left for
different reasons but each of us left a part of us there."
The familiar argument about why athletics department salaries are so
high is that they are set by the marketplace. Bates finds a problem with
that theory, namely that all but a relative few athletics departments
are subsidized by university funds. "If this were a pure business," he
says, it wouldn't work that way.
"I cringe a little at the
business aspect it has become, but it's also a reality, so you don't
fight it," Maturi says. "You try to keep it as amateur as you can, but
the fact is the TV revenues and the bowl dollars and the NCAA basketball
revenues, those dollars are just out of sight."
graduated from North Carolina, where he played football, and earned a
masters degree at Furman while serving as a graduate assistant. He moved
up to assistant coach and then into athletics administration at Furman.
there, his career path took him to Virginia Military Institute as
athletics director, North Carolina State as executive associate
athletics director, and then athletics director at Miami, Texas
Christian and South Carolina before arriving at A&M last summer.
stints at VMI, TCU and South Carolina each lasted seven years. "My kids
tell me I get the seven-year itch," Hyman says, laughing.
the ways he made ends meet at Furman was co-coaching the North
Greenville (S.C.) College women's basketball team - with his wife.
"I like to say that she got all the losses and I got all the wins," Hyman says.
their team qualified for the AIAW tournament in Texas, they held bake
sales and car washes to pay for the trip. Hyman coaxed a Ford dealer to
lend the team station wagons for the drive. When they got to the
Mississippi River, one of their starting forwards had a panic attack and
said she could not go over the bridge. So they put her on the
floorboards and covered her with coats for the drive across.
today will tell me they're having a hard time with this or a hard time
with that," Hyman says, "and I just tell them, 'You haven't heard
anything yet.' "
His experience coaching young women turned out to be a great training ground for his future career.
gave him a real understanding of a coach's life, a recruit's life, a
player's life, an administrator's life," Pauline Hyman says. "It's funny
how huge an impact that had on our lives."
They got $100 per month to coach, and later $110. Every little bit helped.
"I look back on those days and I don't know how we made it," Hyman says.
The paycheck has changed but Pauline will tell you not much else has.
"Do we have a bigger house? Sure," she says. "Are we the same people? Yeah, pretty much. We still like a bargain."