Iowa football coach still tops state workers’ salary list

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz made almost $4 million in fiscal 2015, and an economist said the state may be “paying for something more than a coach.”

Ferentz’s salary left him atop the list of the state’s highest-paid employees, according to a state database that was updated Tuesday.

Iowa State head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg made $2.1 million over the same period, the Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/1IIKv9A ). He’s since departed for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. In third place on the list is Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads at $1.85 million; he was fired in November.

The highest-paid person on the list who isn’t a coach is Kenneth Kates, chief executive officer of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics — earning more than $1.6 million in fiscal 2015. University of Iowa professor of cardiothoracic surgery Peter Gruber was the next-highest-paid noncoach at more than $1.2 million.

The state database includes 60,138 employees who were paid a total of more than $3.2 billion. That’s an increase of about half a percent in the number of employees in the database and about a 2 percent increase in total payroll.

University of Iowa officials noted that coaches are paid through the school’s $86 million athletic department budget, which is not supported with state tax money.

Ferentz’s salary increased about 3 percent from the previous fiscal year. After winning only seven games in the 2014 season, the team went 12-1 in the 2015 season and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl to play Stanford.

Iowa State economist Dave Swenson said Ferentz may well be worth the expense.

“You can make the case that you are paying for something more than a coach,” he said. For example, a report released in September by the University of Iowa and the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau said the economic impact of the school’s seven-game home football schedule is more than $110 million.

“But what you can’t do is have a counterfactual of what it would be worth if we didn’t pay our coaches that much,” Swenson said. “There’s no comparison one can make other than the assumption that by having winning teams, that that indirectly justifies the extremely high pay.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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