Football Is Golden
And while football does make money, it also costs money. Of the five head football coaches hired by UT since 1957, four are still on the payroll. Only Fred Akers, who, incidentally, had a better winning percentage (.731) at Texas than any coach in recent history except Darrell Royal, is not currently employed by UT. The combined salaries and fringe benefits of all current and former head football coaches on staff – that's new coach Mack Brown, who makes $750,000, Mackovic, David McWilliams, and Royal, who makes $46,579 (for half-time work) as a special assistant to the UT president -- is three times more than the combined salaries of all nine women's head coaches.
Okay, you say. The women's sports don't make money. The men's sports do. Well, under federal law, that may not matter. According to the EEOC's ruling, the Equal Pay Act "prohibits employers from paying employees at a rate less than employees of the opposite sex at the same stablishment "for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions." In addition, in its guidelines on compensation for college coaches published last October (on the Web at http://www.eeoc.gov/docs/coaches.txt), the EEOC points out that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination based on sex "with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions and privileges of employment." It's unclear how this provision might apply to women's athletics, where coaches may be male or female, or if it could be included in a legal action brought by a woman who wants to coach men's athletics. Still, it's clear that in college athletics, the movement toward gender equity will take time.
Another factor is Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits universities from offering men more varsity sports opportunities than women. UT has already been sued under Title IX and rather than go to court, the university quickly settled a lawsuit filed in 1992 by a group of female athletes. The school agreed to create new sports programs for women (softball, rowing, and soccer), while cutting 10 scholarships from the football team. Given this history, it appears that UT could be open to yet another lawsuit under Title IX. Some believe that female athletes at UT could claim that they are not getting access to the highly paid coaches that the male athletes are getting, and therefore, they are being discriminated against.
While exposing some inequalities at UT, the survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education also found some positive points. The study found that the number of institutions that paid its women's coaches an average of more than $50,000 per year rose from 24 to 62. According to the survey, the average women's coach at a Division I school makes $39,400. The average women's coach at UT makes $88,219, more than double the national average. (For comparison, the average Division I men's coach makes $54,800.) The study also found that the gender-based salary disparity does not prevail throughout the UT system. The study found that at UT-Arlington, women's coaches earn more than men's coaches. At UTA, the average men's coach makes $42,392 while the average women's coach makes $43,635.
Donna Lopiano, the former women's athletic director at UT, and now the executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation in New York, saw the salary survey last week. "Some things never change," she mused. "This looks like it was when I left UT six years ago. The salaries are higher but the differences are the same. It's sad."
Lopiano blames the payroll inequity at UT on the inertia that pervades college sports. "The old Southern football schools still have most of the old dinosaurs around," said Lopiano, who adds there is "no excuse" for UT to pay Conradt less than her counterparts in men's athletics. "It was Jody's program that proved everyone wrong about women's sports. Hers was the first program that really showed women's sports could sell out a basketball arena. Jody was selling 6,000 season tickets while other schools were averaging 1,000 tickets at the gate and thought it was good."
While Lopiano faults gender bias for the inequity, author-professor Andrew Zimbalist takes a different tack. "It all goes back to the basic contradiction in college sports: They can't decide if it's part of the academic program or if it's a business," says Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College who has written extensively on college sports. "If it's a business, there's good justification for saying men should be paid more. Even if it is a business, though, I'd argue they should not be paid as much as they are."
Told of Zimbalist's comment, Dodds says that sports at UT is both a business and an academic program. And he said the amount of money paid to individual coaches has nothing to do with the gender of the players they are coaching. "It's a marketplace thing. That's all it is," he said. "When you go in the marketplace, it takes X number of dollars to get who you want."
Works Well With Others
Conradt knows how to go along to get along. And she's been getting along for nearly three decades, thank you very much. She didn't get a seventh floor office in Bellmont Hall (with a window) by accident. And truth be told, Conradt would probably rather not talk about the issue of pay inequality. "I negotiated what I thought was a fair salary. It's not all about money," she said. "It's about personal happiness. Working at UT is a wonderful place. I don't want to be anywhere else."
Under Lopiano and now Conradt, UT's women's sports program has become a national power, and while that fact is undeniable, there are many areas where men's athletics appears to be getting more than its fair share (see box). There are 247 men in the Longhorn Hall of Honor. There are no women. Indeed, there's nothing like the Hall of Honor that female athletes can aspire to. To address this issue, Conradt explains, the school is working on a program for recognizing its best female athletes, and a group of UT's alums have been meeting to discuss the matter. Conradt says that the group, which is being headed by McWilliams, the former football coach, could advocate adding women to the Hall of Honor or they may form a separate honorary group.
Despite the fact that the men's athletic department employees have more cars, more club memberships, and higher salaries, Conradt refuses to be envious. "I don't think there's any inequity," she said. "We are in a unique situation. We have the finances to build and maintain a strong program. But there's not an unlimited pot of money. Would I like to be paid what Rick Barnes is paid? Sure. But if that means that we don't have the money to field a competitive team then, no, I don't want to do that. I don't want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg."
Speaking of gold, Conradt isn't living in poverty. Her total pay is $237,235, roughly four times the average salary of a full professor in the English Department, or about11 times what an experienced librarian at UT earns.
A couple of Tuesdays ago, while sitting on a couch in her office, Conradt assured a visitor that she has no intention of filing a lawsuit against UT. And while that may be true, if anyone has a claim for pay discrimination, it's Conradt. After 22 years at UT, Conradt has many of the same perks given to her male counterpart, men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds. She gets a car and a club membership. As women's A.D., she has 76 staffers overseeing 225 athletes. Dodds has 130 staffers overseeing 260 athletes. Her budget is $4.6 million. His budget is $26.8 million. Her base salary is $187,235 and the use of a car for being A.D. and coaching the Lady Longhorns basketball team. (Reebok pays Conradt an additional $25,000 for endorsing their shoes. She also gets a $25,000 annuity.) Dodds gets $206,061 and the use of a car.
Given the size of the budgets and personnel, it could be argued that Conradt's duties as A.D. are not equivalent to those of Dodds. But remember, Conradt is doing two jobs. And her athletes are outplaying and outstudying their male counterparts. In six years as A.D., Conradt's athletes have won four national championships. In 17 years under Dodds, the men have won seven national championships. In UT's most recent report to the NCAA on graduation rates of student athletes, the women are also outshining the men. In its 1997 graduation rates report, UT reported that 70% of the female athletes who entered the school in 1990 had graduated by 1996. By comparison, 51% of the male athletes who entered in 1990 got their degrees over the same time period. (If you use the combined figures from 1987 to 1990, the disparity is even greater, with just 45% of the male athletes graduating, compared to 75% of the female athletes.)
Forget for a moment the duties of the athletic director. Let's talk basketball. Conradt has won more than 700 games and is the winningest coach in women's hoops history. Oct. 2, she goes to Springfield, Mass., for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. She has won a national championship at UT. She recruits, runs practices, and manages a program, just like the men's coach. And while Conradt's program, once a perennial national power, has faltered in recent years, Conradt continues to be one of the most respected coaches in the game and her program is still considered one of the best in the country. Yet Conradt makes less than Augie Garrido, the baseball coach. Her career winning percentage of .771 is 88 points higher than Garrido's career mark. It's also higher than (gasp!) Royal's mark of .749.
How does Conradt's record compare to that of Barnes, the newly hired men's roundball coach? Well, her winning percentage is 170 points higher than Barnes' (.601). She has coached more than twice as many games as Barnes. Yet, Barnes was given a package deal worth $700,000. His base salary, according to Dodds, is $200,000, or $12,765 more than Conradt's. So no matter how it is measured, Conradt is paid less than Barnes, even though their tasks are identical. But Conradt knows what has happened to other coaches who have gone to court over their salaries.
Over the past five years, three major college coaches (all women) have sued their universities, claiming gender bias on salaries. Two of them have prevailed; the third case is pending in federal appeals court. Pam Bowers sued Baylor University under Title IX after she was fired in 1993. Baylor settled the case in 1995, paying Bowers an amount rumored to be $400,000. Bowers no longer works at Baylor. In 1993, Sanya Tyler, the longtime coach at Howard University, won a $2.4 million judgment against the school. The amount was later reduced to $250,000, but by suing under Title IX, Tyler got a better office and a lot more respect for herself and her program. She is also a rarity: She kept her job at Howard and is now in her 18th season at the school.
Five years ago, Marianne Stanley sued the University of Southern California after the school refused to put her salary on par with that of men's basketball coach George Raveling. Stanley, one of the savviest coaches in the game, has won three national titles, and been to the NCAA Final Four 10 times. In 1993, after four years at USC, rather than accept a base salary lower than Raveling, Stanley sued for $8 million. USC then withdrew its contract offer to Stanley, a move that, in effect, fired her. Her lawsuit was thrown out at the district court level by a judge who said her duties were substantially different from those of the men's coach. Her case is now being considered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Until 1996, when she was hired by the University of California at Berkeley, Stanley was the most successful unemployed coach in women's basketball.
The lawsuits are of interest to Conradt. But she also thinks it will take some time for women's salaries to catch up to those of the men. "Sports is a guy's thing," says Conradt. "It's always been viewed as a male domain. And until women get accepted in sports, that's not going to change."
Conradt points out that women have made huge strides in recent years. Some women's coaches are now paid more than their counterparts in the men's programs. At Texas, women's tennis coach Jeff Moore earns more than the men's coach. Beverly Kearney, whose women's track team won NCAA championships this year in both indoor and outdoor track, makes more than men's track coach Bubba Thornton. High profile women's coaches like Pat Summitt are changing the game. Summitt makes nearly $400,000 as the head basketball coach at Tennessee.
In the wake of the Title IX litigation at USC and Howard, the number of women's basketball coaches making more than $100,000 has jumped dramatically. Conradt has been the beneficiary of some of these pay increases. In 1996-97, her total pay was $136,035. This year, she got a pay raise of $51,200. That's a big increase. But Conradt acknowledges that putting women's coaches on par with the men's coaches will take more time. It will also probably take legal action. "Given my experience with Title IX, I don't think anybody's going to run out there and say, 'I want to be fair,' " said Conradt. "It takes big things to get people's attention. People wait until they are pushed."
So back to that original question: Is one Rick Barnes worth three Jody Conradts? Conradt refuses to answer the question directly. She is not going to betray her true feelings on the matter, particularly to a reporter, other than to say that the marketplace determines how much she gets paid. So even though it took a man-sized salary to bring Conradt to Austin, it looks like it will take a lawsuit before she and the rest of the women's coaches get paid like the big boys.