University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank swung at her administrative colleagues at Ohio State and Michigan by expressing her displeasure with the high salaries of the institutions’ head football coaches.
In an interview with USA TODAY regarding college football coaches’ salaries, Blank said the lucrative contracts of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and Urban Meyer at Ohio State resemble professional contracts.
“Those are the choices they make,” Blank said. “That really begins to threaten the whole sense that we are not professional athletic teams. I’m not terribly happy about the fact that they made those choices. That’s my opinion.”
UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez doesn’t necessarily see it as a bad thing, though.
Alvarez said in the same article that he doesn’t concern himself with salaries of coaches at other schools, but if the institution wants to pay that much for a coach, it should.
“When you’re Ohio State and football is as important as it is in that state, and you have an opportunity to hire someone who has a couple of national championships in his hip pocket and is from that state, it makes sense to pay him,” Alvarez said “He’s that valuable. … And Harbaugh, I think it’s a coup for Michigan and our league. I think he is worthy of that salary. That’s what they can command. The market drives that.”
Harbaugh makes $7 million a year at Michigan and received a $2 million bonus when he signed his deal in late December. Meyer, whose Buckeyes won the National Championship last season, makes $5.86 million per year. They rank second and third, respectively, in terms of salary among head coaches in college football behind Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst makes $2.3 million per year, which ranks 46th in the country (right behind Gary Andersen at Oregon State, who makes $2.45 million) and ninth in the Big Ten.