Apparently University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun got into it yesterday, after his team’s win over the University of South Florida, with free lance journalist and self-described political activist Ken Krayeske. Krayeske used the post-game press conference as an opportunity to question Calhoun’s $1.6 million state salary when Connecticut is facing a $944 million deficit this year and a two-year deficit as large as $8 billion.
Calhoun shot back (correctly, I might add) that the revenue his team generates for the college and, thus, the state far exceeds what he earns. (Though, I don’t know whether the $12 million figure he threw out is 100% accurate.)
Yet, one must ask what it says about our society and its misplaced priorities that our highest paid public employees are most likely all basketball or football coaches. (For instance, if you don’t think Nick Saban’s the highest paid public employee in Alabama, I want what you’re smoking.)
Here in Massachusetts, where college athletics are not king, the issue isn’t as large. For instance, Derek Kellog, the men’s basketball coach at the University of Massachusetts, makes “only” $260,000. Still, if he somehow hangs onto the job for 20 years and has the pull to get the men’s basketball coaching job reclassified as Group 4 because of the hazard the UMass coach runs of being threatened by his rival from Temple University, he’d walk away with a pension that makes Billy Bulger’s look like chump change.