At the Big Game, Big Paydays for the Big Men on Campus

January 07, 2009

When the national-championship game in college football kicks off tomorrow night in Miami between the University of Florida and the University of Oklahoma, two highly paid men will be watching from the wings as their teams battle it out on the field.

We’re not talking about the coaches. Or even the university presidents.

The athletic directors at Florida and Oklahoma — Jeremy Foley and Joseph Castiglione — are among the highest-paid in the country, Bloomberg News reported today.

Both men take home far more money every year than the university presidents who hired them.

Mr. Foley, who has been at Florida for 17 years, makes a base salary of $965,000 (without bonuses and other perks), more than any other athletic director in the country. Florida’s president, J. Bernard Machen, meanwhile, had a base salary of about $415,000 in 2007-8, according to a recent Chronicle survey of the compensation of university presidents. Even with extra compensation factored in, Mr. Machen still doesn’t take home nearly as much as his AD.

At Oklahoma, Mr. Castiglione, who has led the Sooners for 11 years, has a base salary of $700,000. That’s the second-highest AD salary in the Big 12 Conference (behind only the University of Kansas, where Lew Perkins brings in $900,000 every year) and the fourth-highest in the country. Oklahoma’s president, David L. Boren, has a base salary that is half as much: only $370,000, according to the Chronicle survey.

But Florida’s president, at least, doesn’t seem too peeved that his AD boasts a bigger paycheck: “The athletic director is more like a CEO of a corporation than a guy who hires coaches,” Mr. Machen told Bloomberg. “He manages more than 500 employees.”

No pressure. —Libby Sander