Is Kansas willing to pay next AD seven-figure salary?


Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich discusses the newly-renovated McCamish Pavilion, formerley Alexander Coliseum, is shown, Tuesday Sept. 18, 2012 in Atlanta. Tech spent $50 million to update and renovated the basketball arena. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich discusses the newly-renovated McCamish Pavilion, formerley Alexander Coliseum, is shown, Tuesday Sept. 18, 2012 in Atlanta. Tech spent $50 million to update and renovated the basketball arena. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) by John Bazemore/Associated Press

Is the University of Kansas willing to pay its athletic director $1 million a year?

If so, then it’s worth starting at the top to see if the superstars of the AD field might be interested in taking on the challenge of turning KU into more than a basketball school. If not, don’t bother because that’s how much money it would take simply to engage one of the heavyweights in the field in a serious conversation.

It might take more than that to land the big fish, but a million would be a nice starting point.

For the purposes of illustrating what it might take to pique the interest of an A-list AD, let’s look at the contract details of Clemson’s Dan Radakovich, published in the Post and Courier on Nov. 22, 2016.

That’s when Radakovich signed a six-year, $4.854 million contract extension through 2021-22.

He also will receive retention bonuses of $200,000 if still on the job Aug. 15, 2019, and $225,000 on Aug. 15, 2021.

Plus, he receives a $30,000 bonus if the school participates in the College Football Playoff and $20,00 if it earns a spot in the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament.

His salary increases $25,000 per year, which would place the figure at $796,500 for this coming school year and $871,500 in the final year of the deal, plus incentives.

If Radakovich, 59, leaves Clemson for another school, the buyout is a mere $125,000. Considering he would be walking way from those retention bonuses amounting to $400,000, and incentives, that means in order for Radakovich to break even financially, his deal elsewhere would have be about $1 million a year.

Why make a lateral move?

Assuming he would even have an interest in leaving a machine that he has up and running so smoothly for a steep challenge, it would probably take somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2-to-$1.5 million a year to lure him from Clemson, S.C. to Lawrence.

Since Clemson likely would make a counter offer to keep him, the figure probably moves closer to $1.5 million.

So the question then becomes is Kansas willing to pay $1.5 million for its next AD?

What, other than a pay raise, might interest Radakovich in leaving the second-hottest football juggernaut (behind only Alabama) in the country for the worst power-five program?

He had success heading renovation projects for basketball arenas and football stadiums.Maybe he enjoys doing that? No, that can’t be it. Who enjoys asking for money?

Radakovich, who took the Clemson job in 2012, hasn’t hired a football coach since 2008, when he wooed Paul Johnson from Navy to Georgia Tech.

Maybe he thinks he works with the next great college football head coach and wants to see what he can do because he knows he’ll never get a chance to do so at Clemson, where Dabo Swinney, 48, might still be coaching in 20 years.

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables makes $1.8 million a year, is a native of Salina and played for and graduated from Kansas State.

Venables, 47, worked at his alma mater under Bill Snyder for six years and at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops for eight years. He left his DC position at OU when Mike Stoops returned to join his brother’s staff in 2012.

Venables inherited a defense that ranked 81st in the nation in points allowed. The rank of his six Clemson defenses, starting in 2012: 46, 24, 3, 24, 10, 2.

KU’s next AD won’t necessarily have an obvious connection to KU’s football coach in 2019, in the event David Beaty does not turn around the program this coming season and a change is made.

Still, as soon as the AD is hired, the guessing game as to the next football coach will come into clearer focus.

Someone of Venables’ ilk would demand somewhere in the range of $2.5-to-$3 million to leave the secure, exciting job he now fills.

How much KU is willing to spend on an athletic director will be the first indication of how much it will pony up for the next football coach.

These are potentially exciting times for Kansas Athletics. The negative momentum, at least for the moment, has shifted into neutral, which counts as progress.


[''] 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Is KU really such an awful job that we have to go after coaches with ZERO head coaching experience like we did with Beaty? Hell why not spend that $2.5M on a proven head coach from even a a mid-level school. The Army coach, Tulane coach (KS & TX connections), one of the tough MAC schools. Venables is a GREAT DC -- with no experience as a HC, zero guarantee he we be a good HC. My 1.5 cents....

Aaron Paisley 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Why does a coach have to have previous HC experience? Davo Swinney had never been a HC prior to taking over at Clemson. Jimbo Fisher had never been a HC prior to Florida St. hiring him. Didn't stop either of them from winning a national title.

A little closer to home, the only coach to have a winning record at KU over the last few decades was a first HC when KU hired him as well.

A lack of previous HC experience means very little in determining the success of a HC.

[''] 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Good points Aaron. Let's hope our next coach is much more like Jimbo and much less of a Dumbo.

Jason Venable 11 months, 4 weeks ago

I'd go with one of the coaches from the MAC. NIU or Toledo currently. Many good coaches have come from that conference. Gill was a bust from Buffalo, but then again, he did have a losing record there when he was hired by KU.

Danny Hernandez 11 months, 4 weeks ago

I say let's put the feelers out there that Kansas is willing to pay $1.25 million per year for the right AD, they'd come crawling

John Fitzgerald 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Zenger was a KSU guy and couldn't get Venables here. I'm curious if he's waiting for the KSU job to open up, even though Snyder wants it to go to his son.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 11 months, 4 weeks ago

I don't have an opinion on who should be the next AD. I think anyone with a strong fund raising background could do well at KU. The football coach... that's the bigger question in my mind - assuming that Beaty is let go.
The new AD should have a very short list of current coaches that he or she realistically thinks they could and would try to hire if they are hired.

Tom Horner 11 months, 4 weeks ago

We are talking about spending $350 mil on stadium improvements and other athletic facilities. Why not spend 1% of that and get someone we think can do what is necessary to fill that stadium. Let him spend 1% more and get a proven coach who wants the challenge. With dollars like that, it is possible.

Kevin Robert Fest 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Stop going cheap, it'll cost more in the long run, with buyouts etc. You get what you pay for. The time has come for KUFB to get serious. Being in any conference is no longer a sure thing. So does KU want to get booted from the Big 12 if realignment happens and get picked up by a lesser conference where the $ is even less than the Big 12? In the long run going cheap could have repercussions KU may not be able to get out from. $ talks, if it's not coming in from football, the basketball program can't sustain the other sports by itself. 10 years from now KU might really be kicking themselves by looking back at 2018 saying if we had only spent more $ on an AD and head football coach. The salaries for the AD and football coach will be more than worth it with the bowl money, season tickets etc they could be generating....potentially.

Kevin Robert Fest 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Football can't go another 5, 6, 7 years being horrible. If in that span they are just as bad, worse(how could that be possible) or barely better they will just keep losing millions. The admin has to know that by this time and know that a bad football team affects the rest of the university. Again potentially if realignment happens and no progress is seen, where does the program go? Which conference wants that pile in their conference? Time to wake up.

W Keith Swinehart II 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Rubber meets the road. Absolutely no guarantees.

Look at history. Who wants accountability? No one, of course. But Chancellor Girod gets that honor. Awesome responsibility. No thank yous for success; guillotine for failure.

Daniel Kennamore 11 months, 4 weeks ago

I'd be fine with that kind of figure as long as it's tied to performance. Football program posting .500 season records within 5 years, etc.

David Kelley-Wood 11 months, 4 weeks ago

"in the event David Beaty does not turn around the program this coming season"

Yes, on that off chance...

Brad Avery 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Find the next Radakovich. Paying him to come to KU is like an NFL team overpaying a center in free agency when they need a quarterback. The AD s important, but if they are going to overspend, buy a coach not an administrator.

Chris Condren 11 months, 4 weeks ago

The KU way is to solve a problem is to throw money into high salaries. Has not worked so far but we will keep trying. It will earn some stupid points.

Mark Kostner 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Yes, KU does need a $1M athletic director. With the exception of a basketball program that runs like clockwork and a couple of other good sports programs, KU Athletics is a wreck. It's got to be built back up. We've been screwing around with football since the big man left. Has it been a decade now of moribund teams? Throw in an Addidas scandal and a cheerleader scandal plus the Rock Chalk Park business and you have an organization with some major problems. It's going to take a savvy sports executive to turn this thing around and also convince the alumni to contribute several hundred million to rebuild the stadium and football facilities. It's going to take a million dollar salesman and you get what you pay for

John Fitzgerald 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Whoever the AD is my guess is Beaty gets fired after the non-con schedule if it in fact goes as expected with only winning 1 of the games.

Dennis Strick 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Yes, pay the "right" AD whatever we need to land him/dare I say her. Then put a hard cap on the athletic department annual operating budget that the new AD is contractually obligated to uphold and get it in line with other similar POWER 5 conference schools. That will force him not to overload the department with a bunch of fat and dead weight. Then we need to be as transparent as possible. My top candidate at Ole Miss shows every annual operating budget report in an easily accessible pdf document for the last 5years. We should be able to go to the athletic department website and click on a tab that says "Annual Reports"/Financial Info and see the same thing. We currently show the NCAA required financial report that is 75 pages long each year or our internal document which is 27 pages long. The Ole Miss report is one page.

Layne Pierce 11 months, 4 weeks ago

OK, let me ask the real hard questions? Should we keep Beatty is he is less than .500, and why? Second, should we try something different, because what we have been doing in our hires, has not worked. Anyone who tells you this will be easy, is a damn liar. Rebuilding the whole sports program will be very difficult.

So why not hire both, a la Radakovic, AD and HFC with mega-incentives. For the AD, for each conference top 3 finish, but subtract any bottom 3 finish. Also, a football attendance bonus.

Obviously the head football coach should be paid a set salary, plus money for each win, subtract for each loss of 35 pts or more.

Is it tough, you bet it is. This means that if we pay, for example $1 million to the AD, and $1 million to the HFC, bonuses also for assistants.

Lastly add an attendance incentive to season football tickets, to be refunded at the end of the year, same thing for student season tickets. Instead of a bunch of empty seats, at least we have angry booing fans.

I don't even think I sound that radical, and oh, one other thing, recruit a coach you think is tough enough for the Bataan death march. No gimmicks, just fighting for every second, and every play. Until we get the players, we run the clock down on nearly every offensive play. We get a monster fullback who can catch passes, and a great field goal kicker, and a great punter, and who knows, anything could happen. Just no more gimmicks, I'm sick of the malarkey, you truly can't make a silk purse out of a pigskin's ear. RCJH

Robert Brock 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Go cheap if you don’t mind KU going to a lesser conference when the GoR runs out.

David Robinett 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Not sure a high salary brings better performance (although MAYBE it attracts better candidates). High pay can also result in complacency -- Lew Perkins was too cool for school. Highly paid CEOs tend to start thinking about their own yachts instead of the good of the company or their customers (see Sprint).

Layne Pierce 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Its not the money, its the concept, and the ability to carry it out.
Wonderful spread offense, gonna drive teams crazy. Not!!! You have to have receivers, and a line that can protect the quarterback, even if you're qb is adequate.

Above all we need a hard nosed, down to earth, but dare to dream, kind of person. Polyanna's need not apply.

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