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Solich might see raise that tops OU, MAC salaries

Just two weeks after new Ohio men’s basketball coach Jim Christian appeared to become the university’s highest-paid employee, veteran football coach Frank Solich is on the verge of taking the top spot on the payroll.

Solich is expected to have a base salary of $430,000 for coaching the Bobcats in 2012, said Tom Symonds, assistant athletics director for Media Relations. Solich has not met with Ohio Athletics Director Jim Schaus to finalize details and to sign the dotted line, but when the deal becomes official, Solich will be the highest-paid OU employee and the top earner among Mid-American Conference football coaches.

Symonds said the increase in salary would be funded through increased revenues brought in by Ohio’s football and men’s basketball programs, both of which had their most successful seasons since the 1960s this school year.

Solich led the Bobcats to their first 10-win season since 1968 and their first bowl win in program history. He earned $144,500 in bonuses and incentives in 2011 on top of his $330,000 salary.

“Jim (Schaus) and I have not visited directly about (a new contract),” Solich said. “There has been some general comments about it following this season, but that has yet to be finalized.”

Because his new contract has not been finalized, it is unclear whether Solich will be offered a contract extension or whether his incentives will change. He is under contract through June 30, 2013, meaning that the 2012 season would be his last under the current agreement. Solich will turn 68 on Sept. 8.

Becky Watts, chief of staff to OU President Roderick McDavis, said the president is in favor of raises that help the best employees stay at OU, both in academics and athletics.

“The president is in support of all division and/or unit heads in order to provide equity adjustments or to be able to retain the top talent for Ohio University,” Watts said. “It happens frequently in academic units. It’s not an uncommon thing to occur.”

Symonds said Solich’s raise took form about the time OU hired Christian. Last year, Ohio’s football and men’s basketball coaches had combined base salaries of $580,000. Next year, that amount will bump up to $855,000.

OU Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said he did not know about Solich’s looming raise but added that he was not surprised — or happy.

“I feel like coach Solich’s old salary was much too high,” McLaughlin said. “I think it reflects a misplaced set of priorities that the two highest-paid people at the university are the football coach and the head men’s basketball coach.”

McLaughlin added that Ohio Athletics should consider supporting more of its operating expenses instead of doling out raises. The athletics department received 34.6 percent of the General Fee that students pay each year. The General Fee cost $1,257 per student during the 2011–12 academic year, and is expected to climb to $1,301 next year.

“Even though I supported the tuition increase through Budget Planning Council, if I’m a student and I’m upset about the tuition increase, I would be really upset about these salaries,” McLaughlin said.

Ohio Athletics officials declined further comment about Solich’s deal until it is finalized.

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