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Friday, May 13, 2011

Texas lawmakers criticize raise given to Longhorns basketball coach Rick Barnes

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— Several Texas senators on Thursday criticized the recent $200,000 raise for Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes, calling it “nuts” and “tone deaf” during a state budget crisis that threatens deep cuts to higher education.

The state is facing a budget shortfall that some estimates put as high as $27 billion. Current spending proposals would cut money for universities and tuition programs for poor students.

Barnes’ raise was approved by university regents Wednesday.

“I think it’s nuts,” said state Sen. Steve Ogden, chairman of the Senate’s budget writing committee.

“It’s not appropriate, not at a time when we’re scraping for money for education,” said Sen. Jeff Wentworth, a member of the Senate higher education committee.

Ogden and Wentworth are Republicans with connections to Texas’ chief rival, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M is in Ogden’s district, and Wentworth is an A&M graduate.

But Democrats with connections to Texas also chimed in.

“It is bad timing,” said higher education committee chairwoman Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Texas graduate. “They didn’t ask for my advice.”

Sen. Kirk Watson, whose district includes the Texas campus, said the raise suggests regents are “tone deaf” to the budget crisis boiling at the Capitol less than a mile away.

“I’m a big fan of UT basketball and coach Barnes,” Watson said. “But at a time when everyone up here is fighting to come up with money to pay for education, it was disappointing.”

The Texas athletic budget is separate from the academic budget, and Barnes’ raise does not include tax money. Texas officials note that the university’s new $300 million contract with ESPN will send millions of dollars toward academics.

Comments

actorman 2 years, 11 months ago

I disagree with your assertion that state senators are dumb people. I think most of them are actually quite smart -- smart enough to know that if they can get a good soundbite out there and make it sound like they're fighting for people, they can keep getting reelected easily. That's the biggest problem: that their main focus is getting reelected rather than doing anything productive. And, not to get on a soapbox myself here, but nothing will ever really change until we can get the money out of politics. Without REAL campaign finance reform, everything else is just whitewashing.

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Ryan Wood 2 years, 11 months ago

The worn-out method of communicating to the lowest common denominator--namely, voters who don't understand the structure of athletic department finances as they relate to the universities--has made political discussions idiotic.

As many have stated here, taxpayer money doesn't go near Rick Barnes' paycheck. These politicians know that. Yet they speak out against this "injustice" anyway. And we wonder why Americans are less and less informed every generation?

I swear, between zany bills being introduced and quotes like these, state senators are just dumb people.

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Janet Scott 2 years, 11 months ago

The Kansas legislature should vote unanimously to recognize and honor the Texas legislature for voting approval to lavish more $ on Barnes to keep him in Austin. This is great news for Kansas basketball - both KU and KSU.

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optimist 2 years, 11 months ago

I can't help but think that some people just look for things to complain about and find fault in anything they can. In the case of the politicians it's clearly to focus attention away from their shortcomings.

"The Texas athletic budget is separate from the academic budget, and Barnes’ raise does not include tax money. Texas officials note that the university’s new $300 million contract with ESPN will send millions of dollars toward academics."

Because of, in part, Barnes' efforts the university will receive an additional $300M in television revenue that will benefit academics. If the basketball program were a loser no way is it worth that much. I can't imagine how so many people are able to go through life without actually thinking. Let's try to look at the big picture. It clearly seemed like a good return on investment if a bunch of academics approved it.

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kranny 2 years, 11 months ago

The issue isn't funding, it's perception. Texas is a publicly funded university and academic programs are going to be cut because of funding. But they are giving a raise to an underachieving coach who has a number of McDs All-Ams. and also has a graduation rate of 42%, one of the worst of any programs in the nation. This sends a crappy message to the state of Texas and where the priorities are. I'm an old jock and support athletics all the way but this is wrong.

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tis4tim 2 years, 11 months ago

People are allowed to make whatever their employers are willing to pay them.

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rob4lb 2 years, 11 months ago

Agree d_prowess-
I live in Texas. The budget tightening is happening here just like the rest of the country- even though the politicians here would like the rest of the country to believe otherwise. There is NO taxpayer money funding any these salaries. Most major athletic programs are self funding and actually give money to the university. I'm not sure why this had to be announced. It is a matter of public record, but I think there was a press release.

I don't like UT, but in this should not be made into a big deal. The new Longhorn ESPN network will easily cover Barnes' salary increase.

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jhwkfan162515 2 years, 11 months ago

They should be criticizing UT for giving a raise to an underachieving coach who can't beat Kansas for league titles to save his life!

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d_prowess 2 years, 11 months ago

Same tired argument that we hear around here at KU by people that have no clue. This is not state money! The raise came from donations directly to the Athletic Dept, not UT. The lawmakers have no power over an Athletic Department, so why make any noise?

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notigers4me 2 years, 11 months ago

I am sure the same lawmakers that are belly aching about Barnes getting a raise don't hesitate to give theirselves a raise every year. It's unfortunate that most people in goverment have lost sight of what it takes to actually run a business that has to operate witnin a budget.

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Robert Brock 2 years, 11 months ago

Texas - formerly the solvent state...

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actorman 2 years, 11 months ago

"Several Texas senators on Thursday criticized the recent $200,000 raise for Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes, calling it “nuts” and “tone deaf” during a state budget crisis that threatens deep cuts to higher education."

They left out the rest of the quote: "I mean it would be one thing if it were football. But it's just basketball, for Christ's sake ..."

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jayhawkdon 2 years, 11 months ago

Leave it to texass to continue to look beyond the reality of the rest of the USA. This is just the standard method of operation for those aholes. My livelyhood comes from oil and gas, and I don't live there and I have no alligence to any in state school, but as soon as it dries up in texass, they will no longer be relavant and knowing what I know, it's not that far away!! texass needs to be ready to pay the taxes you have avoided to have everything piped to the refineries on the coast. It's coming, you know it and there's not one thing you can do to avoid it. Let's see what you can afford to pay ricky, mack and every other over paid coach/state employee then!!!!!

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