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|This Alabama fan's sign says it all: Winning matters in the nation's top college football conference.|
|Mack Brown hooked a new $5 million contract when he took the Horns into the BCS title game.|
|The Tide are rolling, and so are Nick Saban and the SEC in dough.|
Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive, one of the most powerful people in collegiate athletics, spoke recently with ESPN.com's Mike Fish about the role of the SEC in big-time college sports, as well as the challenges facing collegiate administrators. Read the Q&A here.
And through open records laws and public documents, ESPN has compiled salary information about coaches, athletic directors and university presidents in the SEC and at other football powers around the country, as well as data that allow readers to make comparisons among the nation's top collegiate conferences in areas such as football revenue, attendance and NCAA violations.
|Florida's Urban Meyer had plenty to smile about after he won the SEC's third straight national championship in January.|
|A five-win season cost Phillip Fulmer his job at Tennessee, but he left with a $6 million buyout.|
|Georgia broke ground in August on a $40 million expansion of Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall, a football facility and athletic headquarters.|
For years, reformers such as the Knight Commission have been calling, unsuccessfully, for containment on the salaries paid to top college coaches. University presidents are free to do so individually, but few apparently have enough backbone or cachet on campus to pull out of the salary game. Trying to work collectively to limit coaching salaries isn't a viable option, either, as that effort might violate antitrust laws.
Here's one proposal, though, from John Colombo, a University of Illinois tax law professor, that makes a little sense. Colombo proposes that Congress tweak the exemption section of the federal tax code to put a ceiling on the salaries paid to coaches at any Division I university that wants to keep its current tax status. (That's pretty much every university.)
"My idea is pretty simple," Colombo says. " To qualify for tax-deductible contributions if you are a university that runs a Division I athletic program, you can't pay coaches more than X dollars, or you can't pay coaches more than X percent of the president's salary."
How likely is Congress to take such action? Even Colombo admits it's a long shot. After all, he acknowledges, lawmakers are sports fans, too.
-- Mike Fish
|The University of Maryland's William Kirwan heads up the Knight Commission but hasn't made much headway in his effort to stem the rising tide of coaching compensation.|
|The SEC pays $1 a year in rent for its Birmingham, Ala., offices.|
|Nobody can accuse Lane Kiffin of being understaffed at Tennessee this year.|
|Commissioner Mike Slive has upped both the ante and image of the SEC.|