Leavitt’s assistants do not deserve raises

Last week, USF football coach Jim Leavitt’s salary pool for assistant coaches increased by $100,000 to a total of $1.35 million. The increase is a condition of his seven-year contract, signed in March 2008, and the pool will continue to increase by $100,000 every year for four seasons regardless of Leavitt’s performance.

All of USF’s assistant coaches received some level of pay raise.

In addition to annual pay raises, Leavitt’s contract also includes incentives, such as $75,000 for playing in a BCS bowl and $100,000 for winning the Big East. He’s hasn’t done either of those.

With huge state budget cuts to higher education this year, giving such raises is bad publicity. While USF offered Leavitt and his assistants raises to keep them from going to other schools, raises should have been solely incentive-based rather than having a mandatory component.

As the coaches’ salaries increase, they will take a bigger chunk of USF Athletics’ budget. USF Assistant Athletic Director Chris Freet said the raises came solely from revenue such as contracts with sponsors rather than from limited state-allocated funds.

However, all of the money arguably comes from the same pot. State funds will have to be used to make up for the $100,000 loss in annual revenue. Unless the football team does remarkably well this season, revenue is unlikely to increase and may decrease in response to the poor economy. These unnecessary raises will only hurt USF Athletics.

Because Leavitt received such a large contract, mandatory raises were not necessary. When Leavitt signed the $12.6 million contract, he became the highest-paid coach in the Big East, and his contract represented a 70-percent pay raise over five seasons.

Leavitt and his coaches have not earned these raises. They haven’t taken the Bulls to a major BCS game and have never won a Big East title. While the Bulls have been to four consecutive bowls, they only won two, including the inaugural MagicJack St. Petersburg Bowl last year, a very low-budget bowl.

While Leavitt received an automatic raise, UF football coach Urban Meyer may not receive a raise this year, Florida Today reported. UF officials feel that he’s earned a raise, but they’re worried it will hurt their budget. The fact that they are even considering not giving Meyer a raise when he has led the Gators to win their second BCS national championship game in three years last year demonstrates that Leavitt is definitely not worthy of his pay increase.

Incentive-based pay should have been the only means for Leavitt and his coaches to raise their salaries. He is not worth the high price USF is paying, and because of his generous contract, the price will only go up.