When to say when?

As the NCAA debates skyrocketing costs of college athletics programs at its annual convention this week, the public is left to ponder: how much is too much? Two recent headliners demonstrate the issue: the recent $32 million contract from the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa to Nick Saban to coach its football team; and, the approved $40 million expansion to the yet-to-be-built $288 million TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota.

The “arms race” has come under increased scrutiny after the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives requested (link here) a response from the NCAA on the tax-exempt status of intercollegiate athletics programs. Myles Brand, president of the NCAA, responded that while coaches’ salaries are market-driven, there needs to be moderation in the growth rate of athletics budgets. The recent NCAA Presidential Task Force Report (link here) endorses the Knight Commission’s recommendation for presidents and faculty to take the lead and become more diligent in dealing with the funding spent on athletics.

University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks told the St. Paul Pioneer Press (link here) that he will push to reduce the ever-increasing costs of college athletics when he joins the NCAA’s Presidents Council in 2007. “I am concerned about this. And I’m going to be one of the voices for reform.” he said.

Notably, three college football coaches now make at least $3 million a year: University of Southern California coach Pete Carroll, University of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, and now University of Alabama coach Nick Saban. Many individuals raising the concern of excessive salaries in college athletics compare coaches salaries to that of university presidents, of which no public or private college president in America makes as much. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education (link here, subscription required), the highest paid college presidents are E. Gordon Gee at the private Vanderbilt University ($1.2 million per year) and David Roselle’s $980,000 at the public University of Delaware.