Iowa college coaches still highest-paid state employees, despite shorter seasons

State employee layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts caused by COVID-19 will show up in next year's salary report

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz (from left) shakes hands with Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell before
Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz (from left) shakes hands with Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell before their 2018 CyHawk game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Leading the list of the state’s highest-paid public employees is Ferentz, paid $5.56 million in fiscal 2020. Campbell is in the Top 20 at $2.35 million. (The Gazette)

In a year when many college sports seasons have been cut short or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, football and basketball coaches still are among the highest paid state employees in Iowa.

Leading the list of the state’s highest-paid public employees is Kirk Ferentz, University of Iowa head football coach, who was paid $5.56 million in fiscal 2020, which ended June 30, according to state salary data published online last week.

Also in the top 20 are Ferentz’s son, Brian Ferentz, who was paid $888,021 as the Hawkeye’s offensive coordinator, and Chris Doyle, the former strength and conditioning coach, who was paid $883,334 before a forced resignation in June.

The UI agreed to pay Doyle $1.3 million in pay and benefits if he resigned after players and former players accused Doyle of making racist and bullying comments.

Other coaches in the top 20 are UI head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery at $2.5 million, Iowa State University head men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm at $2.375 million, ISU head football coach Matt Campbell at $2.35 million and UI head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder at nearly $1.1 million.

Overall, Iowa had 63,894 employees, who were paid $3.6 billion last year. The fiscal 2020 salary data doesn’t reflect most budget cuts that hit state agencies and the universities during COVID-19.

Pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs in the spring and summer likely will show up in next year’s salary report.

Fifty-six percent of state employees are women, but the women’s median salary of $50,235 was less than the $54,107 median for men.

About two-thirds of state employees work for UI, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. The largest non-university departments, by employment, in fiscal 2020, were Human Services with 4,618 employees, Transportation with 3,291 and Corrections with 2,942.

One state salary that hasn’t changed since 2005 is the $130,000 a year paid to the Iowa governor.

Last year, 3,179 state employees were paid more than Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and 60,714 were paid less.

Also among the highest-paid employees in the state are UI Hospitals and Clinics surgeons and administrators.

UIHC orthopedic surgeons and professors Andrew Pugely and Matthew Bollier were paid $1.42 million and $1.29 million, respectively. Suresh Gunasekaran, UIHC CEO, was paid $946,974 in his first full fiscal year on the job after starting in November 2018.

UIHC and the Athletic Departments at UI and ISU are self-supporting, which means they don’t get money from taxes or tuition. Many of the state’s top earners are paid in part with private donations.

Coaches and athletics administrators at Iowa and Iowa State agreed to pay reductions for fiscal 2021 to cover lost revenue from canceled events, lower conference contributions and, at Iowa, no fans in the stands for football.

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