When it comes to K-State pay, athletics comes out on top

By Ned Seaton

Nine of the 10 highest-paid employees at Kansas State University in 2013 worked for the Athletics Department, according to a Mercury analysis of public records.

The only person at K-State who broke the top 10 and didn’t work in sports: Kirk Schulz, the university president. He ranked sixth, one notch below Dana Dimel, an assistant coach on the football team. April Mason, the next highest-paid non-athletics employee, ranked 11th. She is the provost, the university’s top academic officer, and she ranked below five assistant football coaches. She did earn more than several others on the football staff, and more than the top assistant basketball coach. The predominance of athletics at the top of the K-State payroll is nothing new: In 2012, eight of the top 10 had that affiliation. But the trend is picking up speed. In 2009, for instance, six of the top 10 came from athletics. The numbers are also getting bigger. In 2009, the average pay of the top 10 university employees was $589,367. In 2012, it was $723,508. And in 2013, it was $911,311. So it has gone up 25.9 percent in one year, and 54.6 percent in four years. That was almost entirely due to growth in salaries to coaches. Schulz, the only non-athletics person in the top 10 in 2013, earned 8.1 percent more than he had in 2012.

The top of the K-State payroll is no surprise: K-State football coach Bill Snyder, who earned just over $3 million in the past calendar year. That included bonuses for a variety of accomplishments, including winning coach-of-the-year honors after the 2012-13 season, participating in a BCS bowl game and winning the Big 12 championship that year.

Snyder earned nearly $2.4 million in 2012; the bump in his pay for 2013 was due to a salary increase announced in January and the bonuses already mentioned.

In percentage terms, the biggest gainer among top earners was basketball coach Bruce Weber, whose pay jumped from just over $1 million to $1.96 million, or 87 percent. But that’s a bit misleading, since Weber started at K-State in March, 2012. Frank Martin, his predecessor, was paid about $677,000 in 2012, so essentially K-State paid out about 17 percent more head coaching services in 2013 compared to the previous year.

On an apples-to-apples basis, the employee who made the biggest percentage jump was Brad Hill, the baseball coach, who earned 46.8 percent more. Hill got a new contract and won the Big 12 title. Chris Dawson, the football strength coach, who got a 44 percent bump in pay.

Athletics director John Currie’s pay rose 31 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. His contract also contains bonuses for success of teams on the field, so winning three conference championships paid off for him.

Among non-sports university employees at the top of the payroll, the pay gains were smaller. Mason, the provost, earned 12.2 percent more pay. Ali Malekzadeh, the dean of business administration, had a 1.1 percent bump; others, including top administrators, deans and professors, generally saw their pay rise by low single digit percentages. The biggest gainer was Ted Schroeder, a distinguished professor in Agricultural Economics, whose compensation rose by 7.2 percent.

The cost-of-living increase for American workers in general, as determined by the Social Security Administration, was 1.5 percent.

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