Friday, March 2, 2012
A Broncs Tale: the '99 percent' of D1 staffs
By Ryan Marks, Special to ESPN.com
Editor's Note: Ryan Marks is the head coach at Division I independent Texas-Pan American and is chronicling his season for ESPN The Magazine. In his latest college hoops diary, he explains that competition to join a D1 coaching staff is fierce -- despite the brutal hours and low pay at most programs.
About a month ago, I came across a Twitter link to an article listing last season’s 10 highest-paid D1 men’s basketball coaches. After spending 15 minutes trying to calculate how many white leisure suits Louisville coach Rick Pitino could buy with $7.5 million (82.42 times my annual salary), our staff filtered into my office for a meeting. Before getting down to business, I held an impromptu "Family Feud"–style contest to see if they could name the big-money coaches.
The game segued into a discussion about how disproportionate coaches’ contracts at elite programs have become relative to, well, us. For example, when Kansas won the 2008 title, Bill Self’s three assistants pocketed $234,000 apiece. That means each of them made more than what our entire staff will combined this season.
Currently we have one sharp-witted head coach (hoops acumen questionable), three assistants who stretch their checks at Wal-Mart and a graduate manager and an undergraduate manager who accrue tuition and a stipend -- all for a grand total of $11,000 less than one of those KU assistants.
Still, when a spot for a UTPA assistant opened last spring, it was only a matter of days before résumés poured in from around the globe. Some were from young bucks hoping to work their way into the D1 world. Others came from overqualified vets scrambling for a seat in the cruel game of musical chairs that overtakes our industry every offseason. Despite the low-major wages, our proximity to the Tropic of Cancer and the team’s lack of recent success, the vast majority of these attractive applicants were actually ready to point their U-Hauls toward the Mexican border.
So during the search process, I looked for an assistant I thought would be loyal, have a strong recruiting niche and, most important, possess the right personality to fit in with the rest of my staff. Tim Anderson, a high school coach in Chicago, turned out to be the one: a guy willing to work down-and-dirty hours -- and not worried about getting mud on his white three-button Italian threads.