A few years ago Jim Calhoun was questioned by a writer whether he would give any of his salary back. It wasn’t asked because of poor job performance. In fact, Calhoun was told that it had to do with the economic woes of the state.
His response back to the writer is now famous and still there is no hint that he took it as a critique of his work. Calhoun did not say that he was a great coach and that he deserved all of the money. He did not defend this because the writer questioning him did not care about that fact.
The money that a coach (or state worker) earns was what was being looked at. Calhoun, because he makes so much, got the brunt of this criticism. Was it deserved? Does Calhoun earn more than he is worth or is he that valuable to the university that he is paid on par with what his talent dictates? Maybe, if you go with the latter, is he even underpaid?
It’s a tricky question. The UConn basketball team brings a great amount of money to the university. Add to that, the fact that many students go to the school based on the publicity that the team garners. Calhoun is the leader as the coach and the athletes don’t get paid so any amount that the team is worth would presumably go to him.
On the other side is the argument that no coach is worthy of millions of dollars. Some might also say that there are coaches who deserve what they get but Calhoun is not one of them. This becomes a whole different argument that has to be considered. There are so many questions and answers that become involved that there is no simple equation. Whatever you weigh as most important when it comes to coaching you are sure to associate different values and therefore, different salaries to given coaches.
You also have to pit Calhoun against other state workers. Obviously, he makes more than the average state employee. However, he generates a lot more revenue as well. They make a tiny percentage of what he earns in a given year but they probably wouldn’t be missed to the same degree if they were let go.
This shows that Calhoun wasn’t being questioned based on how well he was doing his job. It would be one thing if he was going, say, 15-15 year after year. He wasn’t. It fell on the fact that he made so much. But let’s look at it in a different way. To make things easy let’s assume that Calhoun makes $1 million a year. At the same time, there are probably lots of state employees who make $100,000 a year who don’t do anything significant. Wouldn’t it be just as easy to lay ten of the regular state workers off? At the same time, you wouldn’t lose a big-name coach.
Speaking of being a big-name, that is really the reason that Calhoun is being questioned in the first place. He is always in the public eye and it is known that he makes a decent amount of money. Those other state workers do a lot less for the state (even cumulatively) than he does but they aren’t there for everyone to see. Why is their job performance not questioned?
That doesn’t let Calhoun off the hook. However, he shouldn’t be the only example of somebody who should give some money back. He could be one of many but he hardly is alone. He might even be worth the money. You compare him to other coaches and he makes a fair amount. That is what you have to pay for a successful coach. It might be too much for your liking but in the grand scheme it seems about right.
There are many factors to weigh when looking at this argument. However, it extends far beyond just Calhoun and his team. It affects everybody in one way or another.
Some points don’t even involve Calhoun. They speak of the state and how in debt it is. The fact that programs that benefit a great amount of people are being cut should alarm everybody. These are valuable to many people in need and they come at a comparably low price. On the other side, there is a lot of money that helps only a few people and those people are not sacrificing at all.
As always, sport is just a microcosm of society. They sometimes even get blended together. All those who say that Calhoun is overpaid (and he very well might be) should look in the mirror and at their friends who don’t generate the money that they are paid. Maybe there are dollars there that could be put to better use and help many others instead of just a select few.