In many ways, the last several months have been something of a wake-up call. We’ve learned just how deep the ire against the top-earning members of our society runs as the Occupy Wall Street movement took hold in New York and spread around the world. In the wake of the Penn State tragedy, where numerous men in high-powered positions have been accused of turning a blind eye to the alleged abuse and assaults of several little boys by a former assistant coach, we’ve also learned of the potentially dangerous fault lines in our college football institutions, where it seems like sports are revered above all else — even the safety of children.
So NewsFeed isn’t expecting USA Today‘s recent number-crunching to sit well with many. The newspaper found that the average salary for college football coaches is $1.47 million, which marks an average increase of almost 55% over the last six years. Nearly three dozen coaches are earning over $2 million, and one coach — Texas’ Mack Brown — is clearing $5 million a year. Mind you, this increase has taken place over the same time period that saw many people lose their jobs, the economy tank and universities shrink their academic budgets.
“Athletics has gotten so disproportionate to the rest of the economy, and to the academic community, that it is unbelievable,” Julian Spallholz, a professor in the department of food and nutrition at Texas Tech, told USA Today. “This kind of disproportion in the country is why people are occupying Wall Street.”
Even if you’re the type who could gloss over the economic disparity that such salaries show, there’s still the troubling issue of the value that universities are putting on football coaches (and, indeed, the team as well). College football has long been heaped with esteem, praise, special status and, increasingly, money. Is it any wonder then, that this sort of culture breeds coaches who, as TIME’s Sean Gregory puts it, “cocoon themselves in power, and hold on to it at all costs?” As the horrific crimes at Penn State show, that sort of special status could cost many a lot more than money.
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