When University officials announced yesterday that David Brandon would become the next Michigan athletic director, they didn’t mention that he would be receiving a 47-percent increase in compensation over his predecessor.
While Athletic Director Bill Martin currently earns $380,000 in base compensation from the University, University spokeswoman Kimberly Broekhuizen told The Michigan Daily yesterday that Brandon will receive a base salary of $560,000. Additionally, Athletic Department spokesman Bruce Madej said Brandon would receive $100,000 each year in deferred compensation.
A University spokesperson had incorrectly told the Daily yesterday that Brandon would receive $525,000 in base pay.
Brandon will also be eligible to earn performance bonuses for meeting financial, fundraising and operational objectives — though benchmarks have not yet been established. Madej indicated performance standards would be established over the next several months, but did not comment on how much Brandon could earn in performance bonuses.
In an interview last night, University Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R–Ann Arbor) told the Daily that the large salary increase was the result of a study of compensation packages for athletic directors at comparable institutions.
“The president and her committee did a compensation study for athletic directors of like programs around the country, and the goal was to be competitive with other athletic programs of the size and caliber of the University of Michigan,” Newman said. “My understanding is that doesn’t mean you would be the best-paid athletic director, but it certainly means you should be at a level where your peers are.”
According to a report last year by Bloomberg, athletic directors in the Big Ten conference are the second highest compensated — behind only the Big 12. Athletic directors in the Big Ten netted an average of $441,277 in base compensation last year, while their counterparts in the Big 12 earned $470,783 in base salary last year.
Across the country, Bloomberg found the highest paid athletic director last year was University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. In 2009, Foley netted $965,000 in base compensation and cleared $1 million after bonuses.
Within the Big Ten conference, Bloomberg reported that Martin was the fourth highest-paid athletic director last year of the nine schools surveyed. University of Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez was the highest-paid athletic director with $750,000 in base compensation, while Ohio State University’s Eugene Smith and Illinois’s Ron Guenther earned $648,000 and $600,000 in base compensations, respectively. Salaries for the athletic directors at Penn State University and Northwestern University were not reported in the survey.
Though Newman — who also serves on the board of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, which addresses issues concerning college sports — didn’t explicitly endorse the salary increase in last night’s interview with the Daily, she did not express any reservations about the salary increase being offered to Brandon.
Newman said Brandon, like any person moving into the position, will face a “huge amount of pressure” as he works to fill the shoes of his predecessor.
“Absolutely there’s pressure on Dave Brandon. This is a guy who I think thrives under pressure,” Newman said. “But are you kidding? It doesn’t matter who walked into this job, there’s pressure on that individual to live up to the standards that have been set before him by many and to move forward and to keep the Athletic Department on a forward looking course.”
When Martin was named athletic director in 2000, he was burdened with large deficits, which he quickly turned into sizable surpluses for the Athletic Department.
“Bill Martin took over a program that was in the red and in disarray,” Newman said last night. “He not only built the program where we’ve been operating since not too long after he took over, but he also rebuilt the athletic campus.”
In addition to maintaing or improving those finances, Brandon faces a looming NCAA investigation into Michigan’s football program, inherits a Michigan football program at one of the low points of its history and has a responsibility to finish Martin’s vision for further renovations to athletic facilities — including Crisler and Yost Arenas.
On a conference call with reporters yesterday morning, Brandon was asked about the ongoing NCAA investigation into the Michigan football program. The NCAA is currently investigating allegations that the Michigan football team violated NCAA restrictions on the time student-athletes are allowed to spend participating in football related activities.
Brandon declined to comment, saying he wasn’t in a position to make any statements about it.
“I can’t really comment, or wouldn’t comment if I could, on the ongoing investigation,” Brandon told reporters.
“As it relates to the investigation, we’re going to do what Michigan always does – we’re going to do the right thing,” Brandon said. “If we’ve made some mistakes, we’ll correct them, but let’s just wait and see how the investigation pans out.”
Though avoiding direct comment on the NCAA investigation, Brandon did make a point to express his support for Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez.
“Rich Rodriguez is the football coach at the University of Michigan. (He) has an awesome responsibility (and) has a proven track record of winning at the highest levels,” Brandon said. “I have great respect for Rich and I look forward to getting to know him better and getting to work with him.”
Despite the demands he will face, Newman said she is confident that Brandon will be up to the challenge.
“I know he’s excited about it and I think we’ll look back on this as another one of President Coleman’s great hires,” Newman said. “I feel great confidence that the Athletic Department is in the right hands.”