Higher salaries often mean more victories

In the realm of Big Ten athletics directors, you get what you pay for. Athletic directors that earn a higher base salary than their peers often oversee more athletically successful programs, according to data analysis by the Daily. The analysis looked at winning percentages in the two biggest revenue sports, menâÄôs football and basketball, along with average DirectorâÄôs Cup finishes during their tenure at their respective schools. University of Minnesota Athletics Director Joel Maturi is the fifth-highest paid director looked at, and the Gophers athletics success has largely mirrored that number. The football team ranks 5th in win percentage during his tenure, while the menâÄôs basketball team falls in at 6th. While those sports have only been in the middle of the pack, Maturi said the athletics program as a whole has done well; especially considering schools like Ohio State have much higher athletics budgets. The Gophers average finish is 19th in the DirectorâÄôs Cup , an annual rating that places schools in order by averaging out results in a variety of sports. Maturi said he hasnâÄôt looked closely enough at the correlation between winning and salary to comment, but said factors like market value and revenues also play a role in determining pay. âÄúMuch of [salaries] are determined by revenue itself,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs not just by places of finish.âÄù On the national scale, Maturi said he has noticed that some athletics directors with higher salaries arenâÄôt necessarily fielding successful teams. But that situation isnâÄôt very common in the Big Ten. WisconsinâÄôs football team has a winning percentage of 73 percent during its five seasons under Barry Alvarez âÄî the highest paid director with a salary of $750,000. IndianaâÄôs Rick GreenspanâÄôs salary was less than half of AlvarezâÄôs, and the Hoosiers football team ranked last in wins under his watch. Ohio State Athletics Director Gene Smith is the second highest paid, and his school falls into the top three in each of the three ratings. Illinois was the biggest exception to the rule, as its DirectorâÄôs Cup average finish and football teamâÄôs winning percentage fell below what the data suggests they should be, considering Athletic Director Ron GuentherâÄôs salary is $600,000. Requests for comment on this topic from Wisconsin and Illinois were not returned. In addition to success on the field, Donna Lopiano, president of sports consulting firm Sports Management Resources , said salaries also depend on the size and budget of an athletics department. âÄúYouâÄôre running $100 million corporations ,âÄù she said, referring to budgets. âÄúI would expect those salaries to be up there. While she agrees that there are other factors involved in judging a programâÄôs success, like branding and academics, Lopiano said winning should be part of the equation. âÄúI think winning is a fair measure of the excellence of the program,âÄù she said. Penn State , Michigan State and Northwestern were not included in the analysis. Michigan State University wasnâÄôt included because its athletics director has only been on the job for about one year . His salary is $245,000. Northwestern is the only private school in the conference and, therefore, isnâÄôt required to release salary data. Penn State is a public university but doesnâÄôt need to disclose salary data because it receives less than 10 percent of its budget from the state of Pennsylvania , according to athletics department spokesman Jeff Nelson.