Friday, November 13, 2009

New facility electric


• Bill Self is, along with everything else, a super promoter, so when he calls the current Allen Fieldhouse package the best basketball venue in the world, some might be dubious. But Bill’s right. It’s fabulous! If you thought the Phog Bin was electric before, that was only a shadow of what you’ll find there this year. No way can you experience basketball in this new old barn without tingling, vibrating and delighting.

Only flaw I see is the lack of railings down the centers of aisles to help semi-cripples such as I to negotiate the steps easier, and more safely. The aisles may now be too narrow, but if such supports somehow could be installed, a lot of us rickety souls would feel far more comfortable moving around.

• USA Today is doing a series about college athletic costs and billowing football coach salaries, such as Mark Mangino’s $3 million layout at Kansas. The series also is focusing on the massive amounts being paid to assistants.

USA-T notes how stressed academic faculty and administrators everywhere are caught up in cost-cutting and justifiably resent that jock tutors’ incomes keep escalating.

At KU, according to the AAUP, the average salary of full professors is $117,300 a year. At Colorado, it’s $121,000; at North Carolina, $142,000. At KU, the average assistant football coach salary is about $195,000, led by Ed Warriner’s $300,000 and Clint Bowen’s $260,000. Lowest man on the totem pole draws $145,000, some $27,000 more than the prof average.

• The loss of a terrific citizen-KU loyalist like Dave Shirk causes a media freak such as I to wish there had been more time to visit and enjoy the great perspective he brought to the table as a former athlete, coach, soldier, farmer, teacher and family man.

He came to KU from El Dorado in 1935, starred as an all-league football end ’36-’38. He was captain of the 1938 KU team that upset Texas 19-18 and got All-America mention. He was drafted by the pro Steelers but chose teaching. Dave had personal connections with Phog Allen and James Naismith.

No scholarships, so he worked his way through school and, as adoring wife Margaret points out, played a role as a guinea pig (her chuckling term) for Doc Naismith, a researching physician. Phog and Dr. Jim both described Dave as “a noted athlete, a splendid gentleman, a true friend, a leader with exemplary habits.” He also performed in track and wrestling.

Shirk coached everything, football, basketball, track and golf, at Haskell, Augusta, Abilene and Seaman of Topeka and served (1943-47) in the wartime Army. His Augusta football team won a state championship. Dave also served as a teacher of many things. He and Margaret faithfully held season tickets for KU football and basketball since 1940.

Dave was almost 94 when he died Nov. 2, and he and Margaret (Lewis) had been married 69 years. Their family spans four generations. And what a lively bunch, who celebrate every day they had with Dave.

“When there are 69 wonderful years, you tend to be happy,” says Margaret, “and we were truly happy.” She might have had a little to do with that.

Damn, I, too, wish I’d had a lot more time to spend with Dave. I could always hope some of his class would rub off.


OCJHAWK 10 years, 8 months ago

Lets see, $117000 plus pension, and tenure (job secure), no real accountability, and a semi flexible work schedule. Not many jobs like that in the real world.

No room to play relative depravation in my opinion.

Athletics is the Hollywood and marketing department combined for the University.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 8 months ago

Great comment OCJHAWK. Tenure is a Joke. Assistant coaches live on the edge with their jobs and work incredible hours with incredible stress.

FlaHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Interesting article on salaries, but I have a question.

How did Mr Shirk when a state football championship at Augusta (KS?) in the 40s or 50s, when I was not aware of a playoff sytem until the 70s in football? Perhaps it was basketball, track or baseball bck then?

Just curious keep the fine articles up Mr Mayer!! uGO HAWKS! Ground the FLying Dutchmen of Hofstra!

longhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Good points on the salaries. I would add this: KU athletics generated $86 million in revenue in 07-08, 11th best in the nation. The overwhelming majority of that is from football and MEN'S basketball, with their combined 2 head coaches and 12 assistants. If you can show me that the HUNDREDS of professors were responsible for generating a proportionate amount where they each deserve to be paid like a football/MEN'S basketball coach, I'll listen to their gripes. Until then, in the words of Jim Calhoun, "Just shut up."

aerohawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Something that would have been interesting to look at would be outside opportunities that professors have. Look at total earnings potential. I know a number of my engineering profs. had businesses that they ran on the side. They could also be consultants. I doubt that football and men's basketball coaches get that ability. What is the total income of top professors compared to football and men's basketball coaches? Professors that lead their fields can make a good deal of money on the side (but there probably aren't any pulling down 3M). Did the average prof. income include the money they make off of research grants? Also, what is the average for all coaches at the university (probably a more appropriate comparison to average professor salary)? It would also be nice to know something about salary distribution among professors and all coaches. My gut tells me that when all coaches are included the average is probably lower than professors with much great variation on the upside AND down side. I wouldn't be surprised if the lowest paid assistant coach was making 20K (or working for free in some of the lesser known sports). The lowest paid FULL (not associate) professor may make 80K. The high salary of the outlier coaches (mangino and self) tend to distort peoples perceptions of the situation, and they especially mess up average numbers.

tdub 10 years, 8 months ago

The most worn-out (and over-used) thesaurus in the world has to reside at Bill Mayer's place of work.

jprich 10 years, 8 months ago

It's funny how some commenters on this thread defend these coaches because they apparently "live on the edge with their jobs and work incredible hours with incredible stress," yet also assume that college instructors automatically earn tenure (they don't) and live stress-free lives where they (supposedly) work only a few hours a week (not to mention that the article specified "full professors" earning an average of $117000, which doesn't include assistant or associate professors who generally make much less). That doesn't really come as a surprise since most college students (let alone readers) have little clue what instructors do outside of teaching. Perhaps it's because the media (e.g., ESPN, etc.) doesn't broadcast every graded exam or essay, every student asking for help and guidance, every grant application, all the time spent in an archive or library doing research, every lecture prepared, every committe and departmental meeting attended, every word stroked on the computer for their next publication, every book read to stay on top of the latest research, every peer-reviewed chapter/book for a friend or an anonymous author (without extra pay, of course), etc., etc...

Yeah, cushy profession indeed...on top of spending multiple years racking up debt from student loans. Indeed, the nerve of those instructors (who don't work in the "real world" apparently) to complain of a wage gap when they should be grateful to even say they work at the same institution as qualified assistant coaches. Give me a break.

Purposive 10 years, 8 months ago

Thank you, jprich, for being the only one in this discussion talking any kind of sense.

The idea that any college athletics coach works harder than your average tenure-track professor at a top research university is truly hysterical.

For the record, NONE of the revenue generated by athletics at KU (or, as I understand it, any other public university) can be used by the academic sector. That's why KU currently has something like $200 MILLION in needed repairs to our academic buildings, while Allen Fieldhouse just got its third facelift in 5 years. So the comparison is a spurious one to begin with.

And by the way, there are plenty of professors at any given research-one university who have pulled in millions of dollars in grant money, but who are still making under $200k/yr. Unless they're researching more effective ways of killing people, in which case they're actually quite well-paid.

OCJHAWK 10 years, 8 months ago

jprich, are you working on your doctrate while slaving and doing the real work for one of these underpaid proffessors?

PS unlike the rest of us that racked up undergraduate and graduate loans.

rastameta 10 years, 8 months ago

jprich, I was thinking the exact same thing. Most people don't realize the work that some professors put in.

JBurtin 10 years, 8 months ago

What I can't figure out is why someone would strive their whole life to be a college professor if they didn't want the job, or thought that it simply paid too little at a paltry $117,000 a year.

This whole argument doesn't even make sense. Nobody is holding a gun to anybody's head and forcing them to be a college professor. You have a pretty decent idea going in to the profession what your pay scale will be. If they'd like to make 3 million a year then nobody is stopping them from learning the game of football and busting their butts to garner the kind of wages that Mangino pulls in.

The fact is that college professors are college professors because that is what they have chosen to do with their lives, and they have all had to make the decision whether or not the pay of that profession would be enough for them to reach whatever financial goals they might have.

Say there is a person out there that really, really loves flipping burgers for a living. Does that mean he should expect Mickey D's to pay him 3 million a year for working extra hours to become the best burger flipper around?

Alternatively, say a person is a very talented day trading investor that puts in less than an hour a day of work. If he finds a way to make 3 million dollars a year with this small amount of work, should he now be punished and forced to give away his money?

Work is work Money is Money Seldom are the two related.

jprich 10 years, 8 months ago


The reason it doesn't make sense to you is because you've missed the forest for the trees.

No professor hates the profession they've chosen because of a "paltry" $117,000 a year - and I have to assume that most profs who make that amount are satisfied (again, the article only mentioned full professors, not assistant or associate professors, where there is a significant pay decrease). The major beef has to do with what the University has become as a vehicle for sports entertainment. Agree with it or not, the fact that the University leadership (and many commenters on this board) essentially promotes sports over academics prompts many to question, "What are (and should be) the University's priorities? Athletics or academics? Is the University a sports business, or is it a place where individuals can still earn a meaningful education? What does the future hold for the University?"

With that said, my response had more to do with a lack of respect from members on this site (and elsewhere) of college professors simply because they continue to raise these questions - not their supposedly "paltry" salaries. I assume most who have come out against the instructors on this board have little familiarity with the intricacies of KU outside of sports, if they even attended the University in the first place. And that's fine, but it's highly inappropriate for many of these individuals to automatically side with the coaches without an understanding of the rest of the University and the concern many within the institution have over KU's priorities. But things probably won't change until popular media (ESPN, gives the academic side of the University equal (or even minimal) coverage of its profession.

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