A raise for a college football coach, Tommy Tuberville, has not been taken lightly for Texas Tech faculty, who prepare for a pay freeze as a result of decreased state funding.
Tuberville received a raise after completing his first season with Texas Tech with an 8-5 record, capped by a bowl game victory over Northwestern. His salary was raised $500,000, from $1.5 million to $2 million per year through 2015. Though athletic and academic funding come from separate pools, the raise has been unsettling for other Texas Tech staff members.
“If that was me, I would have turned it down,” said Julian Spallholz, a faculty senator and human sciences professor. “I would have been embarrassed (to accept the raise).”
Texas Tech president Guy Bailey states that the school is fulfilling a promise made to Tuberville a year ago, when the school hired the new football coach at what was deemed less than fair market value. A raise for Tuberville was promised if season ticket sales went well. Texas Tech sold a record number of season tickets last season and funding for other less profitable sports is being reduced. To offset the loss of funding for other sports Bailey expects that the football program will generate enough funds to keep all athletic programs sufficiently funded moving forward. Still, Bailey appreciates the severity of the faculty’s concerns over the raise.
“I’m sympathetic,” he said. “I’d love to be giving pay raises right now more generally.”
Texas Tech has cut $3 million reserved for faculty raises to protect the school from an eight-percent reduction in state funding. Texas Tech’s academic funding subsidizes $2.5 million to the athletics funding each year but the school has reduced that to $2.25 million as a result of the recent pay freezes. With Tuberville receiving a raise the faculty has raised questions over where the priorities are and where the funding is available for athletics.
“Regardless of the specifics of the money flow, there’s still a question of the symbolism of what this says about the university’s priorities,” said John Curtis, director of research and public policy at the American Association of University Professors, a faculty advocacy group in Washington. “If you’re at a time of cutting academic programs or freezing or cutting salaries for faculty and other employees and you have a raise for the football coach — even if the money is there — it sends a completely wrong signal about where the priorities of the university are.”
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported quotes for this story.
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