TN public universities spent $50M on coach salaries in 2015

Public universities in Tennessee spent $50.7 million on coaches’ salaries in 2015 with the University of Tennessee and the University of Memphis leading the way, according to data compiled through a USA TODAY national investigation.

Further, as reported by the Commercial Appeal:

The University of Tennessee, with an operating budget of $126.6 million, spent $18.2 million on salaries, or 14.3 percent of its budget. The University of Memphis, with an operating budget of $43.4 million, spent $11.2 million on salaries, or 25.8 percent of its budget.

Only one of the other seven public universities in the state — Middle Tennessee State — spent more than $5 million on coaching salaries. Middle Tennessee paid its coaches $5.3 million, or 16.8 percent of its budget.

At Tennessee, the athletic program’s spending on coaches salaries hasn’t increased as quickly as it has at Memphis, but the $18,160,180 the Vols spent in 2015 is almost $7 million more than the Tigers’ $11,191,649 and the highest total in the state.

The gap between Tennessee and the other schools in the state is much larger in support staff and administrative compensation. Tennessee spent $20,470,689 in that category in 2015. No other state school spent more than $6,075,765.

Tennessee has been able to spend more in compensation in part because it has had to pay less money in severance packages. Tennessee has spent a total of $21,087,757 on severance pay since 2005 including $7,969,849 in 2013 when football coach Derek Dooley and his staff were fired. Tennessee also spent $3,719,285 in severance in 2011 when basketball coach Bruce Pearl, baseball coach Todd Raleigh and athletic director Mike Hamilton were fired and $6,953,625 in 2009 after football coach Phillip Fulmer was fired.