Big Money for Big Mistakes

Big Money for Big Mistakes December 12, 2015

Will Hobson and Steven Rich:

The University of Illinois paid fired football coach Ron Zook $1.3 million while he spent a year trying a new career in banking and working on his water-skiing in Florida.

The University of California paid Jeff Tedford $1.8 million while he took a year off and vacationed in New Zealand.

The University of Maryland paid Ralph Friedgen $2 million while he tried out retirement, played a lot of golf and cruised the South Carolina coastline in his 24-foot whaler, “Fishing with the Fridge.”

These are just a few examples of the golden parachutes that await newly unemployed coaches in the lucrative world of major college sports, a phenomenon recently retired football coach Steve Spurrier once called “hitting that lottery ticket.” Severance pay is the top-rising expense for athletic departments at some of America’s largest public universities, according to a Washington Post review of thousands of pages of financial records from schools in the five wealthiest conferences in college sports.

In a decade, the total annual amount spent on severance by athletic departments at 48 public universities in the “Power Five” conferences increased from $12.9 million combined in 2004, adjusted for inflation, to $28.5 million in 2014. That 120 percent jump outpaced rises on larger athletic budget items such as facilities spending (89 percent), coaches pay (85 percent) and administrative staff pay (69 percent).

Browse Our Archives

Close Ad