Photo courtesy of Ken Kraetzer / Flickr

Is Addazio's High Salary Justified?

At both the collegiate and professional levels, it has been accepted that athletic coaches are paid incredibly high salaries, despite, at times, the poor success rates of their teams. Although this phenomenon is explained by the huge revenue that athletic ventures bring to an organization, it is often the case that skill and pay grade do not seem related to one another—all too often, the organization that is “committed to winning” uses this positive intention to rationalize the (sometimes alarmingly high) salaries paid to their coaches. The system is far from a meritocracy—and at the very least, this observation seems unfair, though sometimes necessary.

BC’s head football coach, Steve Addazio, is a perfect example of this breach in logic behind athletic salaries. Despite having won only one ACC game in the past season and a half, Addazio is one of the highest paid ACC coaches and has the highest salary of any school official in Boston College’s history. Especially on account of the negative impression Addazio has left upon BC football fans over the last couple years, this seems ridiculous—surely, he isn’t deserving of such lofty compensation?

It seems illogical that such a vast amount of revenue coming into Boston College is being used for non-academic things. This, however, is an issue relevant to nearly all high-paying football programs across the country, not specifically to BC’s. The issue is that Addazio, a recently unsuccessful coach in the ACC, gets paid more than most head coaches of ACC football programs—all of whom get paid too much to begin with. There’s something wrong with that.

The issue runs deeper, though; in a 2015 article written by BC Interruption, it was suggested that Addazio’s paycheck may be indicative of a school committed to “championship level football.” This means BC thought that the higher they pay their coaches, the more likely their team will be to win.

There is faulty logic. Yes, it is true that by offering higher salaries, top-level coaches are more likely to come to BC. However, the same article referenced above mentions that by paying Addazio such an exorbitant amount of money, BC’s football program neglects other benefits to the team—for example, championship-level practice facilities. By paying Addazio so much, BC is gambling with quite a big roll of cash that a championship level team does not need championship level resources, just an incentivized coaching staff. As fans of BC football are painfully aware, this gamble has not been working out, as other ACC schools are leaving the Eagles in the dust.

So, why is BC able to get away with this? The answer lies in the football culture associated with the university. Current students, faculty past and present, and alumni, many of whom knew BC best when the school’s football team was in its prime, provide an atmosphere (more than apparent at every home game) indicative of a hugely successful football school, although Eagles football is not nearly at its top form.  

The undying support of the fanbase of a failing football program certainly explains why Addazio can compete (by comparing paychecks, if nothing else) with other ACC coaches. If the school and its constituents treat BC football as a championship level program, its coaches will be paid championship level salaries—no matter how deserving they are of such compensation, no matter how many other resources could be provided to the team in place of Addazio’s salary.  

Running to the reservoir on weekday mornings in the early fall, a student can sometimes see the Eagles at practice, running drills on the baseball field near Alumni Stadium. The intensity and dedication is apparent.

It’s hard to believe, however, that the head coach sharing the field with these athletes is paid so much for the job he is doing. Not only should this money be put into the academic aspects of a primarily academic institution, but other parts of BC’s program in particular could be improved by using that revenue differently.

If the school insists on putting exorbitant amounts of money into its most popular sports programs, they should certainly rethink how that money is spent.  Perhaps, by improving all aspects of the program rather than rewarding just the head coach for a poorly done job, the program at large would be much more successful.

Just an aspiring physicist spewing opinionated orations in the hope that someone is listening. Known to ride bicycles sometimes.