1.5.10

THE PRICE OF A POSITIONAL ARMS RACE. The Northern Star reported details of coaches' salaries and contracts as their final investigative report of the year. The reporting is of the just-the-facts variety. It's up to readers to make invidious comparisons about coaching salaries compared to faculty and staff salaries. The Cold Spring Shops position is that coaches cannot expect to do any better on average than professors, taking relative risk, tenure policies, and the large reserve army of hopeful coaches riding blocking sleds at the likes of East Millpond Township High in New Hampshire, and that knowledge of the opportunity cost of the sports programs is desirable. Readers are free to evaluate those opportunity costs for themselves.

The article reports on provisions in coaching contracts for voluntary separations by the coaches.

Another change produced by the extension came in the “Termination by Employee,” section of the original contract.

[Head football coach Jerry] Kill’s original contract stated that if he resigned his position of NIU’s head football coach to assume a coaching position at another university, his buyout would be the remaining salary owed to him by the university. In the extension, this buyout was changed to a tier system.

“I think what we were trying to do there is if you’re going to give a person more time here, and they’re very successful, you don’t want there to be a disincentive for them,” [athletic director Jeff] Compher said. “They’re going to have other opportunities.”

If Kills resigns from NIU prior to the conclusion of the 2009-10 or 2010-11 academic year there must be a one-time payment of $500,000. If Kill resigns prior to the conclusion of the 2011-12, 2012-13 or 2013-14 season a one-time payment of $400,000 must be made. Finally, if Kill resigns prior to the conclusion of the 2014-15 season a one-time payment of $300,000 must be made.

This buyout is different if Kill assumes a position with an NFL team.

If Kills resigns from NIU prior to the conclusion of the 2009-10 or 2010-11 academic year there must be a one-time payment of $200,000. If Kill resigns prior to the conclusion of the 2011-12, 2012-13 or 2013-14 season a one-time payment of $150,000 must be made. Finally, if Kill resigns prior to the conclusion of the 2014-15 season a one-time payment of $100,000 must be made.

I recall theoretical research from years ago making the case for golden parachutes for failed managers, as a way of mitigating the damage such a manager could cause by fighting his termination while continuing to fail as a manager. But a separation bonus for being raided by another university, or a smaller separation bonus for being raided by the pros? The first-order effect of that provision is for the raiding team to lower its offer. Or am I missing something?

The same day this story broke, women's basketball coach Carol Owens resigned.

Citing a need for more balance in her life, Northern Illinois women’s basketball coach Carol Owens resigned on Thursday.

“I want to focus more on my personal life, and what those things are, I feel like they’re private,” Owens said. “They’re things that I hold dear to my heart.”

Owens said she would take a break from coaching to reflect and stop putting things off in her personal life that she felt like she had put on the back-burner in her five seasons at NIU. She said her health is fine.

“There’s no worries there, but I am getting older,” Owens said.

I've frequently noted that Corporate America's usual bargain, we'll pay you a lot and suck out all your time, is one that requires the sanction of the victim, and that people with talent can roll that bargain back by refusing to play. Or perhaps, taking a page from the coaches' playbook, and insisting on a "Termination by Employee" clause.

Ms Owens, however, has the right idea. When it stops being fun, it's time to walk away, positional prestige or not.

No comments: