Iowa coaches still highest paid in the state, but median wages stay flat

Head University of Iowa Football Coach Kirk Ferentz and son, Brian Ferentz, in top 20 highest paid

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz  and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz (left) watch the field as the Hawkeyes se
Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz (left) watch the field as the Hawkeyes set up for a play at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game with the Miami-Ohio Redhawks at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz has seen his total pay increase nearly 40 percent in the last five years from $3.95 million in fiscal 2015 to $5.5 million in fiscal 2019.

Matt Campbell, who has been Iowa State University’s head football coach since Nov. 29, 2015, more than doubled his total pay from $1.25 million his first full year to $2.65 million last year.

Meanwhile, the median salary of 60,445 full- and part-time state employees has remained virtually flat.

Most state employees are paid through appropriations, and the Republican-controlled Legislature largely has supported status-quo budgets recently.

The UI and ISU athletic departments, on the other hand, are self supporting, so no taxes or tuition go to coaches’ pay. Even though the coaches are state employees, they aren’t held to the same salary limits.

Bargaining changes

Danny Homan, president of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, which represents about 19,000 public workers in the state, said state employees’ wages have remained stagnant, in part, because of 2017 legislation that weakened collective bargaining rights for public-sector union employee. “That would be a direct result of the passage of the gutting of the collective bargaining law,” Homan said Wednesday. Under the law, bargained wage increases don’t have to be any larger than the Midwest Consumer Price Index, which is why increases have ranged from 1 to 2 percent recently, he said.

The collective bargaining changes also made it so many nurses often must wait weeks for pay for pulling extra shifts to appear in their paychecks, The Gazette reported in August.

Most workers female

The latest state salary book, published online this week, shows the total state payroll for fiscal 2019 was $3.48 billion and the median salary was $52,441. Median is different from average in that it finds the middle, giving less weight to the highest and lowest outliers. The median state salaries for fiscal 2017 and 2018 were similar — $52,416 and $52,533 respectively.

These state employees -- mostly coaches and doctors -- were the highest paid in fiscal 2019

NamePosition FY19 Total Salary Paid
Kirk FerentzUI Head Football Coach $5,500,000
Matt CampbellISU Head Football Coach $2,653,500
Fran McCafferyUI Head Men's Basketball Coach $2,180,000
Steve ProhmISU Head Men's Basketball Coach $2,150,000
Andrew PugelyUI Orthopedic surgeon $1,379,470
Matthew BollierUI Orthopedic surgeon $1,338,294
Lisa BluderUI Head Women's Basketball Coach $1,093,288
Gary BartaUI Athletic Director $986,745
Alan ReedUI Transplant surgeon $935,269
Jay Brooks JacksonUI VP For Medical Affairs & Dean $904,782
Bruce GantzUI Otolaryngologist $898,801
Matthew HowardUI Neurologist $875,000
Ronald WeigelUI Health Care Associate Vice President $853,749
Kristine Sink*Former Correctional Officer $852,487
Phil ParkerUI Football Defensive Coordinator $845,729
Marco RicciUI Cardiothoracic surgeon $841,326
Chris DoyleUI Football Strength and Conditioning Coach $832,229
Brian FerentzUI Football Offensive Coordinator $799,896
Kirk FridrichUI Oral surgeon $790,775
Evan AbelUI Endocrinologist $786,800
Vincent ReidUI Surgeon $785,311
*Sink received $3.95 million in state settlements last year, with most money going to her attorney.

Iowa government employed more women (33,914) than men (26,528) last year, but men had a higher median salary at $55,700 compared with $50,500 for women. It’s hard to compare equivalent jobs with the state salary book because there are more than 2,800 position types.


More than 3,000 state employees were paid more than Gov. Kim Reynolds, whose pay is capped by law at $130,000.

The total number of full- and part-time state employees went up from 59,865 in fiscal 2018.

Top 20

Among the 20 highest paid employees in the state are university coaches and surgeons at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

In addition to Ferentz, three other Hawkeye football coaches are in the top 20. Phil Parker, defensive coordinator, was paid $845,729; Chris Doyle, strength and conditioning coach, was paid $832,229; and Brian Ferentz, offensive coordinator and Kirk Ferentz’s son, was paid $799,895.

Iowa Women’s Basketball Head Coach Lisa Bluder topped $1 million for the first time with total pay of $1.09 million. She made more than her boss, UI Athletic Director Gary Barta, who was paid $986,745, and more than ISU Head Women’s Basketball Coach Bill Fennelly, who got $750,000 last year.

The highest paid non-athletics employees were orthopedic surgeons Andrew Pugely at $1.38 million and Matthew Bollier at $1.34 million. Many of the doctors and hospital administrators are paid in part with private donations.

Kristine Sink, a former Iowa State Penitentiary correctional officer, ranked 14th in state compensation last year with $852,487 in lost wages. Sink, who worked at the Fort Madison state penitentiary from 2002 to 2016, alleged officials discriminated against her when she complained about inmates being allowed to watch violent and sexually-explicit movies. The State Appeal Board last year approved two settlements with her totaling $3.95 million, with more than half going to Sink’s attorneys.

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