Kirk Ferentz top Iowa earner, among many whose pay exceeds base salary

2016 state salary database shows median salary is $51,443

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IOWA CITY — University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz was paid $4.825 million last year, which is $402,000 for each of the 12 wins in the Hawkeyes’ undefeated regular season. 

Ferentz, the state’s highest-paid employee and one of the top earners in college football nationwide, is one of 10 people in the top 50 in Iowa to make total compensation in fiscal 2016 more than double his base pay as of July 1, according to the state salary database made public Tuesday.

More than 80 people in the top 100 — nearly all UI employees — were paid more than their base pay. This begs the question of what factors contribute to extra pay for state employees?

Coaches can surpass their base pay for taking their teams to postseason bowl games or tournaments.

Ferentz picked up an extra $1 million in 2015 for milestones that included going undefeated, finishing in the top 10, going to a New Year’s Day bowl game, being named coach of the year and having a team graduation rate of at least 70 percent.

Ferentz signed a contract extension Sept. 6 that will provide him $4.5 million a year base pay through the 2025 season.

UI head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery was paid $1.76 million — $512,500 over his base salary — and Iowa State University head men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm received $1.6 million in fiscal 2016, more than quadruple his $375,000 base pay.

Ben Jacobson, UNI’s head men’s’ basketball coach, was paid $793,750, $93,000 over base.

ISU, UNI and UI all played in the 2016 NCAA tournament — which nets coaches extra cash. Prohm, for example, got a $50,000 bonus for getting into the tournament and $25,000 each for first- and second-round wins, USA Today reported.

Although many top-tier UI employees were paid more than their base salaries, the university did not immediately provide reasons for the spikes.

This year’s highest-paid UI Hospitals and Clinics employee is Ken Kates, associate vice president and CEO, who received $972,593 in compensation, compared to his base salary of just under $815,000.

Sometimes employees’ total compensation soars in a given year because of a one-time retention bonus. Overtime work or a midyear promotion also could cause a dramatic increase in compensation over base.

Because the UI and ISU athletic departments are self supporting, no taxes or tuition go to coaches’ pay. Many of the state’s other big earners are paid in part with private donations.

Iowa had 58,986 full- and part-time state employees last year, with more than half of those working for the UI (including UIHC), ISU or UNI.

The median total compensation paid to state employees in fiscal 2016 was $51,443.

Women made up 56 percent of state employees, but were paid an average $50,748, compared to men, who made up 44 percent of state employees and were paid an average $61,913 in fiscal 2016.

Only two women are in the top 20 for fiscal 2016 pay: Debra Schwinn, UI associate vice president for medical affairs, at $803,359 total compensation; and Lisa Bluder, UI , head women’s basketball coach, at $726,540.
Gov. Terry Branstad, whose pay is locked in at $130,000, had 2,517 state employees who made more than him last year.


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