USA Today has a cover story on athletic directors and the recent spike in their compensation. Athletic directors (ADs) pay is now comparable to university presidents. ADs average about $450,000 a year with at least six athletics directors making $1 million or more.

The job has gone from being filled primarily by former coaches to one being filled by business executives, including the former CEO of Domino’s Pizza, Dave Brandon, who’s now the athletic director at the University of Michigan. College observers believe the trend of former CEOs running university athletics departments will increase.

Even more troublesome than ADs growing compensation packages, is that more and more athletic directors are receiving bonuses for the performance of individual teams under their management, including football and men’s basketball. That fact raises ethical questions. Will ADs who get more money if their football team goes to a BCS bowl game be more likely to look the other way when it comes to recruiting violations or academic irregularities?

What we have today is an increasing number of athletic directors that are hired — and retained — based on their ability to bring in revenue and victories. As a result, it’s almost inevitable that the education and welfare of their student-athletes becomes secondary to profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) and win-at-all-costs (WAAC) agendas.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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