Doug Woolard: Are We Getting What We're Paying For?

We understand the athletic director is not always going to be a popular person in their own building. They have to make hard decisions while trying to balance the needs of a wide range of constituencies. Donors, coaches, student-athletes, the university administration, their conference administration, the NCAA, their fans, TV people, the media, their own employees... and oh yeah, their teams have to win on the fields and courts.

We decided to reflect on the state of the USF athletic department when we saw that Doug Woolard's base salary is now over $500,000 per year. There are several parts to this story, but we'll start with how Woolard's salary compares to his football-playing peers in the Big East and USF's on-field accomplishments.

We found 2010 salary data for athletic directors at all the other public football members in the Big East. The Tampa Tribune's searchable database now includes 2011 figures, so we used that one in this column. (We'll adjust it to last year's salary when we do some comparisons later). For Syracuse, a private school, and Pittsburgh, which is somewhere between public and private, the data is slightly older. There may be bonuses or other non-public sources of money on top of these figures that are not detailed.

* - To find Thomas's salary, search "Michael Thomas" at the University of Cincinnati. Thomas accepted the AD position at Illinois last week; the position is currently vacant.

So Woolard definitely isn't the highest-paid AD, but based on where USF is finishing in the standings, he's in the running for the AD who has least earned his salary. On the other hand, I hope Luck is getting some under-the-table bonuses from Nike or some other sponsor because they look horribly underpaid. Hathaway would be as well, but his days are numbered at UConn.

Next, let's consider how much of the budget these salaries take up. We found each school's budget from the Office of Postsecondary Education's Equity in Athletics database, based on total revenues for the 2009-10 academic year. Then we calculated the percentage of each AD's salary the athletic director based on those revenues. To be as equal as we can across the board, we'll use Woolard's 2009-10 salary of $434,608. (For now, we'll ignore that this means over the last 15 months, Woolard has received raises and/or bonuses totaling almost $70,000.)

To verify these numbers, go to the Equity in Athletics Web site, click on "Get data for one institution" and search for the one you want to find. Then click on the "Revenues and Expenses" tab when you find the school you're looking for.

School

Athletic Budget

AD Salary Percentage

Cincinnati

$37,101,542

0.81%

Connecticut

$58,482,290

0.60%

Louisville

$63,487,394

1.17%

Pittsburgh

$49,218,556

1.22%

Rutgers

$55,564,642

0.76%

Syracuse

$49,342,459

1.20%

USF

$39,190,939

1.10%

West Virginia

$62,030,104

0.63%

 

Peterson was lucky to survive the Mike Haywood debacle, but he had success at Pittsburgh before and has a powerhouse men's basketball program. Jurich is the gold standard of athletic directors in the Big East and it would be hard to muster a valid complaint about his salary. DOCTOR Daryl Gross is probably not worth that much, but he seems to have figured out the football problem, and he still has juggernauts in men's basketball and lacrosse.

On the other hand, you could make the argument that USF has been the least successful of the eight football-playing athletic departments since they joined the Big East in 2005. Here's a complete list of how many conference championships member schools have won in sports that USF offers since the Bulls joined the league. (That means no field hockey, no lacrosse, no rowing, and no swimming/diving.) A regular-season championship and a tournament championship each count as one. Decimals are for regular-season championships that were split, or for winning one of the soccer divisions, which counted as one-half. Click here and scroll over the "Championship Central" tab to see the lists for each season.

  • Notre Dame - 35.5
  • Louisville - 32
  • Connecticut - 20.33
  • St. John's - 9
  • West Virginia - 7.83
  • Syracuse - 6
  • Georgetown - 5.5
  • Villanova - 4.5
  • USF - 4.5
  • DePaul - 4
  • Cincinnati - 4
  • Pittsburgh - 3.33
  • Rutgers - 2.5
  • Providence - 2
  • Marquette - 2
  • Seton Hall - 1

The only football schools below USF are Cincinnati... who won two outright football championships in a row. And Pittsburgh... who won a piece of last year's football title, won the men's basketball regular-season title outright in 2011 and has frequent NCAA Tournament appearances, including a #1 seed in this year's field. And Rutgers... who has regular-season titles in baseball and women's basketball. Also they changed out their athletic director two years ago, and Pernetti makes far less as a percentage of his school's budget.

USF's Big East conference titles are in men's tennis, women's tennis, softball (regular season), a men's soccer tournament, and a split regular-season men's soccer title. That's it. Doug Woolard has been here for the entire time USF has been a member of the Big East, and the only conference titles we have are in Olympic sports. And this list belies just how mediocre (or worse) some of our programs have consistently been, like men's basketball, volleyball, the track sports, and two sports that it's inexcusable for a school in Florida to be this bad at, baseball and golf.

Woolard should get some credit for the Athletics Complex and fixing up the Sun Dome, although that's quickly turning into a mess. But it's not like he's the only athletic director who ever improved his school's facilities. And the major catalyst that helped bring up the athletic budget -- getting admitted to the Big East -- had already been accomplished by the time he arrived in 2004. Meanwhile, many of USF's teams languish in mediocrity, the department is still heavily dependent on student fees to keep it afloat, Title IX appears to be considered a suggestion rather than a law, and corners are cut all over the place. Oh, did we mention Woolard received a nearly $70,000 raise over the last 15 months?

Recently I was at an Around the Horns event that Woolard attended, and he told everyone in the room (including Stan Heath and Skip Holtz) that he wants to have the best athletic department in the Big East, in those exact words. In fact, he says it all the time. After six years of trying, he's nowhere close to that goal.

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