WASHINGTON – William “Brit” Kirwan says he cannot reveal the amount of deferred compensation he will receive as University System of Maryland chancellor because state officials worry it could affect a separate lawsuit.
University regents have also refused to reveal the exact amount of the deferred compensation, but one put the figure at “about $100,000” per year.
“There is a legal case underway on the release of contracts so I must be guided by the system practice on this matter at this time,” Kirwan wrote Thursday in an e-mail message to Capital News Service.
“If the courts decide contracts are in the public domain, you will of course get a copy,” Kirwan wrote. “I can tell you that my current annuity from Maryland is suspended and the `pension compensation’ will not become available to me until I retire from the chancellor’s position.”
But a state attorney said Kirwan’s case and the case he is referring to are “apples and oranges.”
Dawna Cobb, the deputy counsel in the Education Affairs Division of the Attorney General’s Office, said the case Kirwan referred to is a lawsuit by The (Baltimore) Sun seeking details about University of Maryland head football coach Ralph Friedgen’s contract.
Assistant Sun sports editor, Patricia Fanning, confirmed Friday that the paper is seeking information on how Friedgen’s salary and compensation are derived.
Cobb said the university is arguing that only the employee’s salary should be disclosed, but that it has not yet stated its position in court. Asked if disclosure by Kirwan of his compensation package would hurt the state’s position in the Friedgen case, Cobb replied that the two cases are “apples and oranges.”
Kirwan could not be reached Friday. An official at Ohio State University, where Kirwan is currently president, said earlier this week that Kirwan was “in seclusion with his family.”
Kirwan began collecting a Maryland pension when he left the University of Maryland, College Park, presidency for Ohio. University officials say he is prohibited by law from receiving both a pension and a salary, and the deferred compensation account is meant to offset the loss of Kirwan’s pension when he returns to Maryland.
Board of Regents Treasurer Thomas B. Finan Jr. said Maryland would stop paying Kirwan’s pension Aug.1, the day he assumes the Maryland job.
In addition to money in an annuity account, university officials said Kirwan will get a $375,000 salary, the use of a state-owned mansion, and the ability to sit on local corporate boards.
Finan said the public “has to have confidence that there is no back-door payment” to Kirwan through the annuity account — and insisted there is none. Finan said the amount paid annually into the account would be “about $100,000.”
“He is not receiving more than he did,” in his pension, Finan said.
Regent Bruce Marcus, who helped negotiate Kirwan’s compensation package, would not say Friday whether full details of the deal should be released.
But Regent Joseph Tydings said that while he did not know the details of Kirwan’s compensation package, “Whatever we’re paying him, he’s worth more.”
“Brit Kirwan is an extraordinary talent,” Tydings said. “Higher education . . . on a statewide basis is among the most important areas to benefit my grandchildren. I know Kirwan will measurably improve the system.”