Sad to say, but raise makes sense

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 28, 2009

Even when layoffs and bankruptcies are all too common, the rich are still getting richer.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban reportedly will soon receive a contract extension and raise. That’s right, a raise. The same Nick Saban whose original contract at Alabama caused NCAA president Myles Brand to wonder, “Is this a proper approach within an academic context?”

Never mind that LSU last season gave coach Les Miles a deal that guarantees him $1,000 more than the highest paid coach in the Southeastern Conference, which is full of millionaires. Or that Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops stands in line to make more than $5 million a year under a new contract. Or that Florida president Bernie Machen has insisted his coach, Urban Meyer, should be the highest paid coach in the country.

All that has happened without anyone at the NCAA mustering a whimper.

As unjust as I, or anyone else, may think it is that football coaches make so much money when so many people are struggling just to get by, it is important to remember where the money comes from that Saban, Miles, Stoops, Meyer and so many other continue to rake in.

Of the $4 million or so that Saban makes each year, $225,000 is the base salary. The rest comes from “commercial activities,” or money tied to marketing. $225,000 is still a lot of money, but it’s at least comprehensible.

Football, we’re seeing once again, is big business whether we like it or not. Lots of people spend lots of money because they cheer for a certain team. And enough money is made on the sport that the people that control the purse strings are willing to pay out a whole lot to make sure a winning product is put on the field.