Newly hired men’s basketball coach Jim Christian hopes to have his squad in elite company next season, but he’s already risen to the top in other categories.
Christian’s $425,000 annual salary makes him the highest-paid Ohio University employee. OU president Roderick McDavis, who had the top salary until Christian’s hire, makes about $390,000 a year.
He also has the highest salary among MAC men’s basketball head coaches and is the only basketball coach in the conference earning more than his school’s president. Only one president of a MAC school, Ball State’s Jo Ann M. Gora, makes more than Christian will with the Bobcats.
Outgoing Miami coach Charlie Coles would have had the lowest salary of any MAC basketball coach during the 2012–13 season. Coles made less than half of Miami University president David C. Hodge’s salary in 2011.
“We believe that there’s a certain market value that a head coach has,” McDavis said. “Certainly, where coach Christian was at, we think we were able to provide him with a good salary for this position and feel very comfortable with the way we approached his compensation for the work he’s going to do as a head coach.”
Other university employees, however, do not feel that Christian’s salary is justified. OU Faculty Senate Chairman Joseph McLaughlin said the basketball team’s success during the 2011–12 season does not guarantee future success.
“There’s lots of examples out there that (universities) have had a brief run of luck or success, whatever you want to call it, and doubled down on their investment and quickly regretted doing that,” McLaughlin said. “It’s indicative of a misplaced set of priorities.”
Christian has not yet signed his official contract to become the new head coach, Ohio Athletics Director Jim Schaus said, adding that the parties have agreed on a salary and contract length but have not finalized any paperwork. The final contract likely will include performance incentives and other bonus opportunities.
“We have an agreement as to what the main parameters are,” Schaus said.
Former Ohio coach John Groce made $300,000 a year with Ohio and earned an extra $55,000 from incentives last season. His team’s run to the Sweet 16 was the program’s first since 1964 and generated national media attention for the university. But faculty members, such as OU economics professor Richard Vedder, said success might not guarantee the program any additional income or notoriety in the years to come.
“If this new coach were to come in here and keep having the kind of teams that Groce had and we generated hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, ... then I think you could justify a salary with that, even if it’s out of line with that of others,” Vedder said. “But I think the possibility of that happening is really very remote. How many times have we been in the Sweet 16 in the last 50 years?”