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Comparing salaries of Luck and Big 12 ADs

MAMAS, DON'T let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

By all means, though, encourage them to become athletic directors.

When USA Today gathered salary data for schools competing in Division I-A football, West Virginia's Oliver Luck's total pay was published at $405,600 for 2011, while Marshall's Mike Hamrick was at $247,494.

And get this: Of the 10 athletic directors set for the Big 12 next season, Luck's salary ranked next to last. Overall, his salary was 55th.

No one, of course, is crying crocodile tears for Luck or Hamrick. Luck has a vast athletic business background, but it is his first job as athletic director.

Still, the cost of business went up when WVU joined the Big 12 and, in time, so too will the cost of keeping Luck around.

Although USA Today wasn't able to access the salaries of private institutions, there were some eye-opening payouts listed. David Williams of Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt!) was No. 1, raking in a salary of $2,560,505. Florida's Jeremy Foley was second at $1,545,250 (with a bonus opportunity of $50,000) and - get this - Louisville's Tom Jurich was third at $1,427,704. He can make a maximum bonus of $344,000. (Will you please get that man's agent on the line for me?)

In case you're wondering, DeLoss Dodds of Texas is (as you probably would have guessed) No. 1 among Big 12 athletic directors, raking in $1,095,756 last year. Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione is second at $975,000.

But push past the numbers. Examine the men making the dollars. As you might expect, they all rose through the ranks. But understand also that, for the most part, these guys aren't your father's athletic director. They aren't old coaches elevated because of popularity. And the trend is to move further and further away from that. (OK, except for Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez.)

Among the current national openings is that of Texas A&M. Luck, of course, has been mentioned as a possibility for that position. But so too are people like Jon Heidtke, who is the senior vice president and general manager of Fox Sports Southwest. Get my drift?

(The salaries, by the way, should once and for all put in perspective why Luck, despite being a die-hard Mountaineer, would look at other jobs, including that of Stanford. If Jurick can make $1.4 million at Louisville ...)

Dodds has been wielding power since 1981, so he's a different cat. But look at the other Big 12 athletic directors. You'll see master's and doctorate degrees. You'll see fundraising expertise.

Take a look:

  • Kirby Hocutt of Texas Tech ($580,000 in 2011) - Began his career in marketing and promotions at Kansas State and was an effective fundraiser at Oklahoma.
  • Jamie Pollard of Iowa State ($450,000) - Was the chief financial officer at Wisconsin, ran the show until Alvarez was elevated and was named one of Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal's "Top Forty Under 40" aces.
  • Sheahon Zenger of Kansas ($450,000), Ian McCaw of Baylor ($423,449) and John Currie of Kansas State ($412,500) have a mix of Ph.D, doctorates and master's degrees in sports management from schools like Massachusetts and Wake Forest.
  • TCU's Chris Del Conte is by far the lowest paid as of last year with a $115,639 salary, but moved his school from the Mountain West to the Big 12. He rose through the process, but helped land $90 million at Rice through a "Vision for the Second Century Campaign."

    One exception might be Oklahoma State's Mike Holder, a former golf coach. But all he did as a fundraiser was land $165 million from school alum T. Boone Pickens.

    So it will be interesting to see how Luck is handled at WVU. His boss, university president Jim Clements, recently received approval for a raise to $775,000 a year.

    It wouldn't be shocking to see one for Luck far behind.

    Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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