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"Airball for Mizzou"

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  • "Airball for Mizzou"

    With a 16-14 record and no NCAA tourney, Quin Snyder still made $1 million

    Airball for Mizzou
    With a 16-14 record and no NCAA tourney, Quin Snyder still made $1 million
    Chad Garrison
    Oh, what could have been for Mizzou Coach Quin Snyder.

    In failing to advance his team to the NCAA basketball tournament -- and make good on the Tigers' pre-season pick as a Final Four contender -- Snyder missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentive pay. Had he met all the post-season incentives in his contract, Snyder's pay package would have topped $1.4 million for the 2003-2004 season, according to a copy of his contract obtained by the Business Journal.

    But before you shed any tears over Snyder's unclaimed spoils, consider that he will still clear $1 million in guaranteed pay this year.

    "Certainly most people would look at that figure and wonder how you can justify that, but it is simply a matter of the market that we're in," said Chad Moller, spokesman for University of Missouri-Columbia athletics. "To get a high-quality coach at a high-profile institution, the market dictates what you have to pay."

    Still, when considering the 16-14 record of Snyder's team this season, Mizzou's Athletic Director Mike Alden may secretly covet the return on investment provided by Saint Louis University Coach Brad Soderberg, whose Billikens have so far posted a 19-12 record and are still alive in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). Mizzou, on the other hand, lost in the first round of the NIT.

    Although SLU -- a private, Jesuit institution -- does not disclose the payroll of its coaching staff, Soderberg's compensation is likely less than one-third the compensation Mizzou pays Snyder. According to SLU's most recent filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the university's highest-paid employees all come from the academic side, with two of its medical professors earning salaries in the $500,000s.

    According to sources close to the Billikens, Soderberg earns a guaranteed salary of between $250,000 and $275,000. Incentives and third-party contracts, such as appearance fees, basketball camps and apparel endorsements, increase his compensation by another $150,000, those sources estimated.

    It is these third-party contracts that have dramatically escalated the compensation for college coaches in recent years. In the case of Snyder, UM-Columbia pays him separate fees for relinquishing his right to negotiate his own deals with these third parties -- and the price the coach charges to forfeit those privileges doesn't come cheap.

    Of Snyder's $1.015 million in guaranteed salary this year, just $195,000 of that is for coaching. The remaining amount is earned through broadcast appearances, apparel agreements, a basketball camp, annuity fund and public relations, all brokered through the university.

    But when considering the money-making potential of basketball programs, a coach's role as a figurehead may justify the high salary.

    "It amazes me how competition and salaries for coaches has increased in recent years, and it's because college basketball has become such a big business," said Bob Lattinville, an attorney with Stinson Morrison Hecker and sports agent whose clients include SLU women's basketball coach, Jill Pizzotti.

    This year CBS will pay the NCAA $389 million for the rights to broadcast the three-week-long NCAA tournament -- a figure that is nearly as much as the broadcaster pays to air five months of NFL football, according to the Wall Street Journal. The NCAA will in turn distribute $105 million to Division I basketball programs this year.

    Closer to home, the basketball programs at UM-Columbia and SLU are cash cows for the schools -- supplementing many of the other sports programs. Last year, Mizzou's basketball program earned a profit of $3.4 million based on revenue of $5.6 million, according to the schools' annual Equity in Athletic Disclosure Act report. SLU's basketball program last year earned a profit of $1.7 million based on revenue of $3 million.

    Yet even with profit margins of about 60 percent, both universities realize that there is more to be made in basketball -- which is why both schools are developing new revenue-generating facilities for their programs.

    SLU, which has not played basketball on its campus since 1945, is currently raising money for a $70 million arena to be located on the southeast corner of its campus. The arena, with all the revenue generators of modern stadiums (luxury suites, naming rights) should only increase the revenue potential for the Billikens.

    Meanwhile, the Tigers are to move into a new $75 million arena next season that includes luxury suites as well as courtside seats going for hefty donations of as much as $25,000.

    And with the new home comes another opportunity for the Tiger coach to profit. For every season the team averages home-game attendance of more than 11,000, Snyder gets a cool $200,000 bump in pay. Not a bad incentive for a team that has averaged crowds of more than 11,000 in each of its last four seasons.

  • #2
    Can we call it "Severance pay?"