New Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson has such a sweetheart contract that he gets two week’s pay (about $25,000) every time a Sun Devils minor-sports team, such as baseball, softball or women’s golf, qualifies for the NCAA tournament.
That’s in addition to his $600,000 base salary, his $200,000 annual retention bonus, a $200,000 signing bonus and 19 bonus clauses in his contract, including one that pays him roughly $12,000 every time a Sun Devil coach is selected Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
Perhaps that’s why, after two months on the job, Anderson last week fired Tucson native Shawn Charles, a Santa Rita High School grad, who was ASU’s head wrestling coach. An under-performing wrestling coach now takes money out of the AD’s pocket.
That’s new to the culture of big money college sports.
But none of the items in Anderson’s contract compares to the deal ASU president Michael Crow brokered for the long-beleaguered and cash-strapped Sun Devils athletic program.
Crow last week successfully persuaded the Arizona Board of Regents to agree that every ASU student will henceforth pay a $150 fee for Sun Devils athletics.
That’s about $10 million a year.
That’s a game-changer among game-changers in Pac-12 sports.
After decades of financial ineptness under myriad ADs, often running as much as $5 million to $6 million in the red, Crow and the Board of Regents in one master stroke put ASU’s athletic department in the black.
It was at the same Board of Regents meeting that the state’s education leadership panel officially recognized Arizona AD Greg Byrne for a “fantastic achievement,” in raising about $30 million for McKale Center renovations in what seemed like 30 seconds.
A little irony, perhaps?
Arizona’s athletic budget in 2012-13 was $66 million; ASU’s was $63 million. The difference is that the UA has not run a deficit. Nor does it plan to follow ASU’s get-rich-quick model and ask students for a mandatory fee.
“We’ve chosen as an institution not to do it,” Byrne said Friday. “Obviously, we would need to have campus support, and discuss it with the students, if we ever moved in that direction.”
ASU did not have a campus referendum, but rather chose to get approval from a few student political leaders.
UA and ASU both get 315 tuition waivers each year from the Board of Regents. Arizona pays an annual $1.3 million administrative service fee to the campus; in exchange, its utilities are paid under the school’s umbrella.
After that, Arizona’s athletic department has paid its own way since entering the Pac-10 in 1978. Its financial responsibility under ADs Cedric Dempsey, Jim Livengood and Byrne has been exemplary.
The UA has never put its financial burden on the students.
But now ASU has changed the money game. It won’t have to worry that it pays above market price ($384,000) for women’s basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne, or that it owes basketball coach Herb Sendek a $600,000 bonus on June 30.
The Sun Devils didn’t get to the Rose Bowl or even the Sweet 16 this year, but they won the Money Game in a landslide.