Monday, August 6, 2012

Educations vs Entertainment

Which do we value more, entertainment or education?  Most people would say the answer is simple; according to our stated position, we value education more.  Most people would be wrong.

Here is a list of the salaries of the Big Ten head football coaches 

(2012 guaranteed comp. unless noted): 
 Meyer, Ohio State $4,400,000;
 Ferentz, Iowa $3,785,000;
 Hoke, Michigan
$3,254,000 (‘11); Pelini, Nebraska $2,875,000; Bielema, Wisconsin

$2,598,000 (‘11); O’Brien, Penn State $2,300,000; Dantonio, Michigan State $1,918,000; Fitzgerald, NWU $1,800,000; Kill, Minnesota $1,700,000 (‘11); Beckman, Illinois $1,600,000; Wilson, Indiana $1,260,000 (‘11); Hope, Purdue

  College football for everyone, except the staff and the players who receive scholarships, is entertainment.  There are no two ways about it.  Average pay to lead the program is around $2.4 million.

Let’s compare that to the salaries of the presidents from the same universities, the presidents being the ones in charge of education (among other things including research and athletics).  I found one source listing the 14 highest earning public college presidents.  Three of the above schools made the list:  Ohio State ($1,818,911), Penn State ($800,592) and Michigan ($783,850).  The rest are presumably below the $707,000 that was at the bottom of the list.  These presidents are paid a fraction, between one quarter and one half, of what the head coaches are paid at the same institution and as a group.

This next article shows a graphic of the Big Ten president’s salaries and, like several others I checked, features complaints about the level of the president’s pay.  (I didn’t see any similar complaints about the head coaches’ salaries.)

I don’t think these are isolated cases in the Midwest.  This is very good evidence, by direct comparison, that our society actually values entertainment (college football) more than education.  We can complain all we want about the situation, but we control it by what we are willing to pay for tickets compared to our reaction to higher taxes for education.  I am not arguing that university presidents are not paid enough.  They, like chief executives in business, take advantage of the superstar status that goes with these positions and tends to push salaries higher, but it’s nothing compared to coaches, star athletes and performers.  Our values are out of whack.  Our society has lost perspective.  We say we value some things: family, faith, education, etc., but we act contrary to those noble ideals. 

We have no right to ask why our kids are falling behind the rest of the world in math, science, etc.  The answer is obvious!

*Source: Lafayette (IN) Journal & Courier – a subscription only site.

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