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November 7, 2013 Thursday
NEWS; Pg. 1A
|Colorado banks on football, and coach cashes in;
MacIntyre's $2.4 million payout part of salary explosion in college football
Erik Brady, Christopher Schnaars and Steve Berkowitz, @ByErikBrady, @ByBerkowitz, USA TODAY Sports
Mike MacIntyre makes $2.4 million coaching football at Colorado, but the coin that means the most to him is not legal tender.
He carries it in his pocket as a way of feeling close to his father, George, 75, who has multiple sclerosis and watches his son's games from a bed in Nashville. The commemorative coin is a memento of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award that his father won at Vanderbilt in 1982.
Colorado is asking of the son what Vanderbilt once asked of the father: Turn around a moribund program, and quickly. One of the many differences between then and now is the scale of remuneration.
"I don't think my father ever made more than $150,000 in his life," MacIntyre told USA TODAY Sports. "So I think I'm blessed. I understand that, and I'm very thankful."
George MacIntrye made $150,000 in 1985, the last year he coached Vandy, equivalent to $326,000 today -- which would still be more than $2million less than his son is making this season. Colorado is paying MacIntyre, a proven turnaround artist, roughly $1 million more than the next-highest-paid football coach in its history and more than 21/2 times his predecessor and yet below the average of nearly $2.6 million for football coaches in the six power conferences.
What's more, MacIntyre's payday comes as Colorado's athletics department is awash in red ink. It owes the school nearly $30 million in internal loans provided over a series of years to help cover the athletics department's move from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 and the considerable cost of buying out departed coaches and athletics directors while paying bigger bucks for new ones, among other costs. Plus, MacIntyre's contract specifies other areas in which the school commits to spend even more on football.
The upshot: Colorado is all-in, anteing up on big-time college football.
Coaches are among the major beneficiaries as schools bet on football and play musical chairs with conference affiliations. The average compensation package for major-college coaches is $1.81 million, a rise of about $170,000, or 10%, since last season -- and more than 90% since 2006. (The figures do not include six schools that moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision in the last two years.)
At this rate, coaches' compensation would more than double in less than a decade.
The rapid rise comes at a time when instructional spending at many schools is not increasing at the same pace as spending on athletics, according to a report by the Delta Cost Project at the non-profit American Institutes for Research that was based on data from the U.S. Department of Education and data collected by USA TODAY Sports. Among FBS schools, median athletics spending per student-athlete increased by 51% from 2005 through 2010, the Delta Project reported, while median academic spending per student rose by 23% in the same period.
"Faculty are annoyed, though there are more colorful ways to say it, at these athletic excesses," says Colorado physics professor Jerry Peterson, a member of the steering committee of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, an alliance of faculty senates from major football schools. "I don't know how to slow this down. It's an arms race."
In the power conferences, money from lucrative TV deals -- including conferences such as the Big Ten and Pac-12 having their own cable networks -- has unleashed a new era of massive spending on football. While Colorado athletics director Rick George says, "I don't feel like we're in an arms race," the Buffaloes don't have much choice. This season, eight of the 10 football coaches at Pac-12 public schools will make more than $2.1 million. Two years ago, three were at $2 million or more.
Nick Saban, who makes more than $5.5 million, is the nation's highest-paid coach, at two-time defending national champion Alabama of the Southeastern Conference -- where every coach at a public school makes more than $2 million.
"If you want to go to Alabama and pay $5 million, I think we got a bargain," says Bruce Benson, president of the University of Colorado system. "Don't let MacIntyre tell me he needs $5 million. But if he gets that, it'll be because he's damn good. That would take a national championship."
Colorado is far from that -- its last winning season was eight years ago. The Buffaloes hope their future goes something like this: The new conference brings richer payouts. The new athletics director brings in more corporate and donor dollars. And the new football coach brings back winning.
"I'm a businessman, not an educator," says Benson, president of the four-campus Colorado system. "I'm an oil guy, and probably 20 other businesses I've run in my life. In business, you cut your losses. ... If we have people who are not working out, get rid of them and get the right ones in."
And so in the last year Colorado fired coach Jon Embree, who last season went 1-11, the worst record in school history, and athletics director Mike Bohn, under whom the department had great on-field success outside of football but under whom the department's deficits grew.
Enter George, Colorado's football operations director in the Bill McCartney era, when the Buffaloes won a national title. George returns 22 years later with a background in raising corporate dollars in professional golf and, most recently, for baseball's Texas Rangers. He arrived in August and hopes to raise $50million from donors by Dec.1.
"We're making a big bet on it, but that's part of life," Benson says. "Ever drill a dry hole? Probably not. I have. You bet on it and say, 'Dammit, it didn't work out. OK, next one, here we go.'"
Big time, big dollars
MacIntyre's contract isn't only about the dollars he'll earn. Its clauses and codicils reveal a blueprint for the hopes and dreams of a program.
On the day MacIntyre's contract went into effect, Colorado was required to put $1.5 million into renovating the Dal Ward Athletic Center, which houses the football offices and locker room, among other things. The contract also specifies a Dec. 1 deadline to submit plans to the board of regents for more ambitious facility upgrades -- and another deadline a year later to award a design contract.
"When you have an up-and-rising coach ... and he makes the move from one job to the next and it's a step up the food chain, you want to make sure that the school that is wanting to lure him, it's not just writing a check for $2 (million) or $3 million," said Jimmy Sexton, MacIntyre's agent. "That gets all the headlines, but it's a lot more than that."
Colorado hopes to spend $170 million on facilities upgrades. George also wants to bolster Colorado's endowment for athletic scholarships, which he says is currently $13 million -- or about the amount that Stanford's $550 million endowment spins off for athletic scholarships each year.
"We may not ever have the biggest and the best. It's not about that," George says of facilities upgrades. "Do we need an indoor practice facility and to improve our facilities? Absolutely."
The pot of gold at the end of Colorado's conference-switching rainbow is the Pac-12's 12-year, $3 billion TV deal with ESPN and Fox. That's guaranteed money, and even more cash is expected to flow to schools from the Pac-12's own network.
"The important point to remember about this move is it's a long-term investment," Colorado chancellor Phil DiStefano says. "Media rights will be more than double what we were getting (from the Big 12).."
Colorado gets a full Pac-12 share for the first time beginning this fiscal year, which begins at $16 million and rises to at least $23 million by 2023, says Cory Hilliard, associate athletics director for business operations. He says CU was getting roughly $10 million annually from the Big 12.
Millions in loans
The balance sheet on the internal loans is nearing $30 million. Colorado also provides the athletics department with a subsidy of roughly $5.5 million each year under the category of institutional support that does not need to be repaid.
"Certainly, anytime there is a debt at that level, I'm concerned," DiStefano says, "but athletics will pay that back."
Turning football around also will take time. MacIntyre spends his days on X's and O's, not budgets.
"I don't know all the details of that," MacIntyre says. "I really don't. I do know my job -- and our staff's job -- is to get better and better and play well in bowl games and have big crowds and have (ESPN's) GameDay come to town and make it a spectacle, which will help the school and help everything."
MacIntyre did it at San Jose State, which went from one win in 2010 to 10-2 in the 2012 regular season, after which he left for Colorado.
He says he looks at his father's coach-of-the-year coin several times a day. He'll tell you it's not so much a good-luck charm as a way to think about his father and draw inspiration at the same time.
George MacIntyre spoke briefly with USA TODAY Sports on speakerphone with the help of his other son, Matt, who also lives in Nashville. George's voice was faint, but his spirit strong. He said he feels great that Mike carries that coin in his pocket. "I love to watch him coach," he said.
Is it true that you never made more than $150,000?
"That's right," he said.
"He's smiling," Matt added.
And your son makes more than $2million more than that.
"I'm proud of him," the father said. "He's a great son."
Contributing: Jodi Upton and Stephanie Klein.
November 7, 2013