Around the ACC: How Much Is Your School Paying Its Athletic Director?

Wednesday, USA Today published the salaries of athletic directors at the 124 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.  According to the database, Duke’s Kevin White is the highest paid athletic director in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  White receives $906,536 annually, $180,000 more than the next highest-paid ACC athletic director, Clemson’s Dan Radakovich. Radakovich was hired by Clemson on October 29, 2012 after serving as Georgia Tech’s athletic director since 2006 and receives $725,000 annually.

Salaries for the ACC's current and future athletic directors, according to USA Today. Miami and Boston College did not report salaries.
Salaries for the ACC’s current and future athletic directors, according to USA Today. Miami and Boston College did not report salaries.

White’s time as the best-paid AD in the conference will be short-lived, however.  Both Louisville’s Tom Jurich and Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick are among the nine athletic directors making at least $1 million annually.  Jurich will receive $1.4 million, making him the highest-paid AD of a public university.  Only Vanderbilt’s David Williams ($3.2 million) has a higher salary.  Williams serves as vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and as a tenured law professor at Vanderbilt.

On average, the ACC athletic directors with reported salaries receive just over $600,000 annually. Miami and Boston College, both private schools, did not report salaries in the study.  However, the two private institutions that did report both placed in the top three of the conference.  Wake Forest’s Ron Wellman earns $688,000 per year.

The SEC boasts the highest average athletic director salary of the six major conferences, at $857,971.  However, Williams’ salary greatly distorts that conference’s figures. The other 13 SEC schools’ athletic directors will earn an average of $605,533 in 2013.  Big Ten athletic directors average $712,164 annually (not including Northwestern).  Three of the nine athletic directors reported to make more than $1 million are at Big Ten schools: Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez, Nebraska’s Shawn Eichorst, and Ohio State’s Gene Smith.

Florida State’s Randy Spetman is the least-paid athletic director annually in the ACC, at $350,000.  Considering the challenges that face athletic directors on a daily basis, it is pretty stunning how their pay pales in comparison to some of the coaches they hire and fire. Athletic directors must monitor fundraising, facilities, graduation rates, on-field performance, and the constantly evolving realignment landscape, yet Spetman is paid less annually than all but five football head coaches with recorded salaries in the FBS.

Mike Bobinski, who was hired by Georgia Tech on January 18 to replace Radakovich, will make $625,000 upon official employment on April 1. This will place him fourth amongst ACC athletic directors. Bobinski is currently the chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.  He has been athletic director at Xavier for 12 years, where he hired Thad Matta in 2001, Sean Miller as an assistant coach, and current head coach Chris Mack.  However, Xavier has not had a varsity football program since 1973, so that is a new challenge that will greet Bobinski upon his arrival in Atlanta.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse’s arrival to the conference will do little to alter the league average AD salary.  Pittsburgh’s Steve Pederson earns $596,595 in 2013, while Syracuse’s Daryl Grose draws $570,057, just below the league average.  However, the arrivals of Louisville and Notre Dame (and the departure of Maryland) will boost the average to $726,633.

These salaries do not include bonus payments, which can add to an athletic director’s take-home money.  For example, NC State’s Debbie Yow will reportedly make $500,000 in 2013. However, her contract also includes bonuses and incentives that can add up to $546,000 to her income.  Yow replaced Lee Fowler at NC State in 2010 after serving as Maryland’s athletic director. At the time, her base salary was reported at $350,000, with up to $100,000 in incentives.

A closer inspection of Jurich’s pay at Louisville explains how he has become the nation’s highest-paid public university athletic director.  He is under contract by both the University of Louisville Athletic Association and the University of Louisville Foundation.  Under Jurich, Louisville has surged from Conference USA to the ACC, Jurich’s contract also includes a severance payment of equal to his compensation from the foundation in the year prior to his termination, even if he is terminated “for-cause.” Even though the “cause” for such a termination could be as drastic as NCAA sanction or imprisonment, he would still be eligible to receive the severance package.  In 2009, the foundation accounted for $255,915 of his salary, meaning Jurich effectively has a $250,000 severance package. An athletic department spokesperson said in an email to USA Today that, “This is what the Board determined reasonable for Mr. Jurich in light of his outstanding record and integrity while serving as AD.”

2 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Wow, Louisville doesn’t mess around.

    Zach, can you answer one question for me? (Too lazy/busy to look it up myself) … is the “Bonus Pay” on the right added to the “Total Pay” to produce a complete compensation figure?

    Or is “Bonus Pay” part of the “Total Pay” number? Did the USAT article clear that up?

    1. Bonus Pay is the maximum amount that COULD be added to the base salary if all performance goals are met. Total Pay is how much that AD will reportedly make in a year.

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