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Football coaches at Iowa, ISU combine to make more than $10 million

[ 0 ] September 12, 2013 |

Wally Burnham seemed embarrassed when asked about the current state of college football coaching salaries.

“Mind-boggling,” said the Cyclone defensive coordinator, a college coach the past 40-plus seasons.

He said that without knowing the big number:

There will be more than 10 million dollars’ worth of coaches on the field when Iowa State hosts Iowa at 5 p.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

The Cyclones’ coaching staff, including strength coach Yancy McKnight, will earn just more than $4 million this year, but that’s nothing:

The Hawkeyes’ staff, including strength coach Chris Doyle, will earn $6.3 million.

Advantage Iowa?

Not necessarily. Iowa State has won the past two games in this rivalry, and another Saturday results in the Cyclones’ longest Cy-Hawk streak since winning five consecutive from 1998-2002.

This season, the coaches in the rivalry game will combine to make $10,326,000 — not counting whatever bonuses may be in store should one of the teams reach the postseason.

“As long as the salaries can be sustained through ticket sales and fundraising, I don’t see politicians having much of a role in the matter,” said state Sen. Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat running for governor.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is the highest-salaried public official, his contract calling for a salary of $3.6 million this year. His staff, including strength coach Chris Doyle, combines to make $2.69 million.

That’s more than $6 million on one sideline, and Iowa State counters with more than $4<TH>million, including $1.7 million for head coach Paul Rhoads.

Combined, that’s $10.32 million — and all of that money comes from athletic department resources.

“College coaches earn tremendous amounts of money — 26 states pay football coaches the top public employee salary,” said state Sen. Joe Bolkcom, an Iowa City Democrat.

“The biggest problem Iowa has is not that the highest income earners (coaches) make so much money, it’s that for far too long, wages have been stagnating for most Hawkeye, Cyclone and Panther fans.

“We need to be far more focused on increasing family income in all 99 counties and expanding our middle class, so that all our football fans can afford to attend a game, tailgate and enjoy their team.”

Iowa State’s Kenith Pope and Curtis Bray have the lowest assistant coaching salaries on the field, at $190,000.

Burnham is the highest-paid non-head coach, at $375,000.

“I look at it as a business,” said Randy Feenstra, a Republican state senator from Hull. “You’re paying that much to coaches, but what is the revenue they’re bringing into the state?”

It’s a lot, including almost a combined $20 million to their respective communities each time Iowa State and Iowa play, according to Ames and Iowa City Convention and Visitor Bureaus. Julie Weeks of the Ames convention bureau estimated spending by fans attending Saturday’s game to be around $5.5 million.

“It’s the cash cow,” Feenstra said.

That, and the money football programs generate for universities, is why coaches make big bucks these days.

“My first college salary was $11,500,” Burnham said. “And you know what, we probably worked longer hours back then. We didn’t have all the automation back then that we have today.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy making what we make.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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