Docs, jocks and administrators were the top-paid employees at Ohio State University in 2016, according to data released this month by the university.
Head Football Coach Urban Meyer was the highest paid public employee in Ohio last year: $4.61 million in salary and bonus pay. And not far behind him was Head Men’s Basketball Coach Thad Matta, who earned $3.39 million. Athletic Director Gene Smith — who is Meyer and Matta’s boss — made $1.98 million.
The top paid administrator was General Counsel Chris Culley, who raked in $1.27 million, including a $709,400 bonus.
OSU President Michael Drake, who took over the helm in June 2014, was the 13th highest paid university employee at $1.04 million, including a $204,000 bonus. Former university president E. Gordon Gee’s total compensation for 2013 hit $2.14 million, including a $1.46 million bonus that was part of his exit package.
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Woven among the top paid athletics and administrative leaders are cardiologists, cancer specialists and brain surgeons.
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The university paid out $58.7 million in bonuses, including six-figure bonuses to 93 employees. Meyer and Matta topped the bonus pay with $2.2 million and $1.8 million, respectively. They were among seven OSU employees who received more than $1 million in bonus pay.
Just three women were among the 50 highest-paid OSU officials, and none of them topped the $1 million mark. The top paid female was Andraea Douglass, senior vice president of human resources, who ranked 29th highest paid at $830,201 in total pay, including a $611,645 bonus.
Sara Kilpatrick, director of the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors, said it’s not surprising that women are under-represented in the top pay tier, which is usually dominated by coaches, athletic directors and upper level administrators, who tend to be male.
Kilpatrick said Ohio State, like other universities, suffers from too many administrators making top dollar. “We are concerned about administrative bloat at all the institutions and we see those numbers on the rise everywhere.”
Overtime pay hit $44 million in 2016. Nurses, police officers and perfusionists — healthcare professionals who assist during cardiac surgery — topped the list of those paid more than $40,000 in overtime.
OSU freshman student Madeline Fixler said she understands the big paychecks for highly-trained doctors but doesn’t think Meyer is worth $4.6 milion a year. “This may be considered sacrilegious but I’m not a huge football fan so I personally don’t think so, but that’s just me,” she said.
Noah Haines, an OSU sophomore, said he isn’t convinced Meyer is worth $4.6 million a year either, though he noted that the football coach “has brought a lot to this school.”
Overall, Haines said he didn’t know coaches, doctors and administrators earned so much. “It’s a lot of money. It’s a big campus. There is a lot to manage, definitely,” he said.
Ohio State includes a major medical center, nationally recognized sports enterprise, 65,000 students, 40,000 workers and $2.35 billion in payroll.
Compared to 2013 — the last year of the Gee administration — OSU’s total payroll has climbed 12.4 percent, total headcount increased 9 percent, bonus pay jumped 43.9 percent and overtime grew 18.9 percent.
Compared to a decade ago, when Karen Holbrooke was OSU president, payroll has grown 77 percent, headcount increased 28 percent, overtime increased 45.5 percent and bonus pay jumped 505 percent.
Ohio State continues to seek out ways to bring more cash to campus. The university is moving forward on a $1.16 billion deal to lease out its energy systems for 50 years. In 2012, it signed a 50-year lease of OSU’s parking lots and garages in exchange for $483 million in cash. And in 2011, OSU issued a “century bond’ for $500 million at 4.8 percent annual interest with the principle due in 2111.