At Kent State University, some head coaches and assistant coaches gets a perk that no English or math professor would ever consider asking for: a car.
Kent State is not unusual, as similar reports showed the same in the MAC Conference. At Kent, 33 coaches are provided cars. There is no policy on who gets cars and it’s at the Athletic Director’s discretion when he hires coaches. Each coach at Kent State pays $150 per month for a car. They also pay for insurance on their own.
“It’s one of those competitive advantage situations where if we weren’t doing it, we’d be at a competitive disadvantage,” said Joel Nielsen, Kent State Athletic Director. “So by doing it, you keep up with your peer institutions.”
Kent State’s computer-assisted reporting class found that most of the MAC universities do provide automobiles or stipends to their coaches.
Central Michigan reported the most cars, 38 cars are provided to coaches. The school also has a list of ideas they give their coaches to build a strong relationship with car dealerships. Some of these ideas include inviting a car dealer to lunch or to play golf with them.
At Bowling Green State University, 22 stipends and five cars are being provided to coaches. An interesting fact is that all head coaches there receive a $425 stipend to be used on anything, not just cars. Assistant coaches receive $325. Coaches at Bowling Green State University can use that stipend on anything for their personal use.
A non-MAC conference school, the University of Kentucky has 24 athletics employees that receive cars. The head coach of men’s basketball, football and the athletic director has two cars. The cars at the University of Kentucky are provided by an agreement with local car dealerships, which receive two tickets to each basketball or football game per vehicle they have provided. Their head coaches also receive a large stipend of approximately $450.
“You can’t compare the Athletic Department to the English Department,” said John Cropp, Associate Athletic Director at the University of Kentucky. “The English Department doesn’t have to make a profit. What the English Department is doing is immensely important; maybe even the most important thing on campus. But you can’t compare the two – it’s apples and oranges.”
At Ohio University, five coaches in the athletic department receive complimentary cars. There are three cars they have on hand for recruiting purposes. The school reports that 28 coaches receive a stipend for cars. Ohio University is interesting as it reports their stipend range is from $3,000 to $5,760 per year.
“Offering automobiles to the athletic department personnel as part of their compensation package is essential in obtaining the top coaching and administrative staff to compete at the Division I level,” said Tom Symonds, assistant Athletic Director of Media Relations at Ohio University.
At Ball State University, 22 stipends and 15 cars are given to coaches. All the stipends are the same, but they did report that all the cars are accompanied with a gas card. Ball State University believes their car program is vital to the university.
“There is no problems from the growing divide between academics and athletics, athletics is different,” said Tom Collins, Athletic Director at Ball State University. “Our coaches need cars to recruit student-athletes to attend Ball State. Our employees would be hurt a great deal if the cars incentive was eliminated.”
Ball State University made it clear that they do not discriminate on who gets a car and who doesn’t.
“Our athletic director (Tom Collins) handles our cars program,” said Matt Wolfert, Associate Athletic Director at Ball State. We take a gender equity standpoint with this program, there are no favorites here.”
Most athletic departments didn’t have an answer to what other departments at their university give their employees vehicles. It poses the question is there other hard working individuals in the academic departments not getting cars? It seems to show a growing divide in the university athletics and academics.
“During a time when state governments are cutting their budgets, public universities must make difficult decisions regarding their funding priorities,” said the office for U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown. “The main role of our nation’s institutions of higher learning is to educate students but at the same time, athletics play an important role in a school’s ability to attract new students and in raising its public profile.”
The office went on to say that each university must strike a balance that provides adequate funding for student athletic programs, academic scholarships, and other important university programs.
Investigative Reporters & Editors has done many stories reporting that around the country, coaches are being paid more than teachers: http://www.ire.org/resource-center/stories/18004/, http://www.ire.org/resource-center/stories/23259/.
Kent State’s computer-assisted reporting class also did a report on the student fees in the university bill that they pay. They found that there is no line-by-line item detail in the bill. Students and parents cannot see where there money is going. They did a report of the percent of the athletic budget that comes from student fees. At Ohio University, 81% of the budget comes from student fees. It was 62% at Kent State. More can be found here: http://et.kent.edu/jmc40004/fees/.
It was also reported that only two of the MAC schools make their coaches pay for insurance for their vehicles. In many cases it seems the coaches are given their base salary, a car and a gas and insurance allowance. IRE reports that many professors around the country are only given a base salary.
In just going through some data it seems that many universities are pumping more money into their athletics than their academics. When asked most of the university athletic directors refused to do a videoskype interview. These universities include: Kentucky, Toledo, Ball State, Buffalo, Northern Illinois, Ohio U, Central Michigan and