ANNAPOLIS – The University of Maryland’s two high-profile coaches — who guided the football and men’s basketball programs to unprecedented success — are making nearly triple the earnings of the top-paid state employee.
Ralph Friedgen and Gary Williams are expected to surpass $1 million a year in income, while Donald N. Langenberg, the chancellor of the University System of Maryland, is making $359,570 this year.
Langenberg’s salary is the highest among all employees whose compensation is paid largely by state tax dollars, according to data obtained by the Capital News Service.
Friedgen’s and Williams’ base salaries are $183,820 and $207,584, respectively, this year, according to university records, and are derived from revenues from their programs, including ticket and merchandise sales.
Most of their earnings are generated through bonuses, shoe contracts, TV and personal appearances and incentives tied to post-season wins and conference titles — details of which the University of Maryland declined to release following a request by the Capital News Service.
“What we could disclose is the state-funded salary information,” said University Counsel Denise Andrews. “We can’t disclose non-state-funded payments, which coaches may receive from outside sources.”
However, The Washington Post last week reported the financial details of Friedgen’s and Williams’ contracts citing unnamed and industry sources. The newspaper was unable to obtain the coaches’ complete contracts or specific bonuses and their NCAA-mandated reports of outside incomes from the university.
Meanwhile, The (Baltimore) Sun has filed a lawsuit seeking similar financial information.
Paying top dollars to a winning coach has reached new heights in recent years, as nearly 40 college football and basketball coaches make $1 million or more a year, according to a USA Today survey.
Some find the trend troubling.
“When you go too far down the for-profit road, it’ll have consequences,” said Tom McMillen, a former Maryland basketball player and member of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
Friedgen, named AP College Coach of the Year, signed a 10-year contract reportedly worth $12 million after leading the team to a groundbreaking season and being wooed by other schools.
The Terrapins posted a 10-1 record last season, and earned an Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a spot in the Orange Bowl in Friedgen’s first year as head coach.
A year before Maryland captured the 2002 national men’s basketball title, Williams reached a seven-year deal reportedly giving him $1 million a year. He is now expected to renegotiate his contract, sources told The Washington Post.
The university’s athletic department would not comment on the details of the coaches’ contracts, but contend that Williams and Friedgen are getting paid a “fair market value” for their services.
“In general, we have been very successful in attracting and retaining top- caliber coaches,” said David Haglund, Maryland’s associate athletics director. “We award them when they attain certain competitive achievements, both in length and compensation.”
When the university hired a new women’s basketball coach earlier this month, it announced that Brenda Oldfield would get less than a third of the top men’s coaches — $275,000 annually for six years, which includes her base salary and any other income source.
But the university has closely guarded the contract details for her male counterparts.
As a result, The (Baltimore) Sun filed a lawsuit in March seeking access to Friedgen’s contract. The lawsuit was amended earlier this month to include the release of Williams’ contract, said Mary Jean Craig, a Towson lawyer representing the newspaper.
“It doesn’t make sense if people are entitled to know how much public employees make,” Craig said of the university’s refusal to release the coaches’ contract. “You could hide a lot of arrangements by agreeing on a weekly payment and structuring a compensation package and calling it something else.”
The state, however, argues that the coaches’ contracts are personnel records, which are not public under the Maryland Public Information Act, said Mark Davis, an assistant state attorney general.
Because the state pays only a portion of the coaches’ salaries and the rest is covered by outside money, university officials “don’t have to answer to anyone,” said Matt Linick of 4th and ONE, a sports marketing company in New York.
“The state funds pay like $180,000 and the rest comes from private sources,” Linick said. “It’s Nike’s money” or whatever sports apparel maker the university cuts a deal with.
A contract with a footwear company could be worth between $300,000 to $400,000, Linick said.
Williams’ sneaker/apparel contract pays him about $250,000 annually, according to The Washington Post.
In addition, the 1968 Maryland graduate and former player has gotten $540,000 for competition achievement — including $125,000 for the NCAA national and ACC titles — an automobile allowance and media and personal appearances, sources told the Post.
Williams can earn another $50,000 for academic achievements related to his players and $75,000 from his summer camp in College Park, The Post reported.
Likewise, along with his base salary, Friedgen is receiving $762,000 for competitive achievements, an automobile allowance, media and personal appearances and a footwear contract, according to The Post, which did not report on the source of the money.
While coaches reap the benefits of the team’s successes, the NCAA forbids student-athletes from receiving monetary incentives. That could end, some say, as college sports become more profit driven by expensive broadcast rights, higher coaches’ salaries and corporate-sponsored facilities, such as the new Comcast Center in College Park.
“I certainly don’t want to take away from the great job that Ralph and Coach Williams did, but there is a pernicious effect,” McMillen said. “As coaches take more and more salaries, you’re going to see a situation where some smart lawyers demand that players get a piece of the pie.”
In a report released last June, the Knight commission recommended that coaches’ salaries “should be brought into line with prevailing norms across (their) institution.”
In some cases, paying a $1 million to a coach is justifiable because successful sports teams yield other rewards, such as a jump in admissions, said Linick, the sports marketing agent.
“The University of Maryland, because they won the national championship, their admissions will see a spike this year,” Linick said. “That again follows up to the bottom line.”