By The Associated Press
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — A $500,000-per-year pay raise recently awarded Texas Tech football coach Tommy Tuberville through 2015 has angered some university faculty members, who have been asked to take a pay freeze in 2011.
Facing an 8 percent state funding reduction and with more funding cuts possible, Tech officials killed $3 million in faculty raises for 2011. However, Tuberville’s new five-year, $11 million contract guarantees the coach at least $2 million per year. That’s up from $1.5 million in the contract he signed in 2010.
At a faculty senate meeting last week, several faculty members questioned Tech’s announcement last month that it would pay Tuberville the raise even as lawmakers considering cutting university revenue by tens of millions of dollars, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported in Monday’s editions.
“If that was me, I would have turned it down. I would have been embarrassed,” Julian Spallholz, a human sciences professor and Tech faculty senator, told the newspaper.
Tuberville and Tech athletic director Gerald Myers declined to comment. However, Tech President Guy Bailey told the Avalanche-Journal that the university was keeping a promise made to Tuberville a year ago when he was hired at “less than market value.”
“I’m sympathetic,” he said of the faculty response. “I’d love to be giving pay raises right now more generally.”
Faculty Senate President Richard Meek said some of the anger could result from a lack of understanding that academic and athletic budgets are funded separately. However, $2.5 million of the Tech athletic budget comes from academics. Bailey told the Avalanche-Journal that the academic subsidy of athletics has been reduced to $2.25 million this year because of the funding cuts and he hopes to remove the subsidy completely over the next few years.
Faculty advocates, however, say this brings up yet again the long-running issue of academic vs. athletics in terms of university priorities.
“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 for the American Association of University Professors.
“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,” he told the Avalanche-Journal.