As a small-to-medium-sized private school, Syracuse University doesn’t necessarily have the access to large donors and funds for athletics that a lot of its on-field competition does.
Compared to football powerhouses and other large land grant schools, it’s simply impossible to make up all of that ground in terms of resources put toward facilities and coaching salaries for the Syracuse Orange’s teams.
Yet, according to SU’s 2016 tax failings, which recently became public, it looks like we’re at least on our way to being competitive when it comes to football hires.
Syracuse.com’s Chris Carlson dug through the numbers and saw that Dino Babers took home $2.4 million that year -- a large increase over previous Orange coach Scott Shafer and a figure that would rank 49th in the country, and more importantly, 10th in the ACC (notably above both UNC and Pitt). Though there’s a slight caveat there since the conference has so many private schools and as we know, that makes it tougher to get public information on pay.
Still, considering what we knew about Shafer’s salary and our fears about overall staff compensation for the Orange, this does feel like a positive step forward. When we hired Babers, we knew we were going to need to make a splash and signal we’d spend money on football. ACC revenues have been a nice boost to Syracuse over the comparatively minuscule payouts we received in the Big East. Orange athletics collected record-setting revenues last year too.
Well, mission accomplished so far — though Babers regularly hints that his staff needs a few more resources. Since he arrived at SU, Babers has lost three assistants, including Mike Hart, who reportedly received a giant pay day from Indiana to be their running backs coach.
Syracuse has also signaled they’re willing to spend given the recently announced Carrier Dome renovation project with a price tag of $118 million to build a permanent roof and upgrade numerous elements of the in-stadium experience (like getting rid of troughs!).
To little surprise, SU also spent quite a bit of money on hall of fame men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim, who received $2.7 million in 2016, which included performance bonuses. As you’ll recall the Orange made the Final Four as a 10-seed that season. Former assistant Mike Hopkins (now the head coach of the Washington Huskies) also had one of the seven highest salaries of all Syracuse employees that year, making a total of $611,382. His six-year deal with Washington is worth $12.3 million total. That averages out to less annually than what Boeheim makes at SU, for those wondering if we can afford to pay him if Syracuse wanted to bring him back when Boeheim retires.
Other notable athletic salaries include Orange women’s basketball coach Quentin Hillsman, who received $829,316 after taking SU to its first Final Four that year, and former athletic director Daryl Gross. Gross was only on campus for six months in a variety of roles yet received over $1 million for that time. As you’ll recall, the DOCTOR left the AD role in 2015 after 10 years and some controversy, including the NCAA sanctions that until this coming season left the Orange basketball roster a bit shorthanded.
In short, Syracuse can pay and that’s a positive for what we’re trying to do with this athletic department. No, SU isn’t winning a bidding war for a top name coach, but competing against the lower half of the P5, there’s at least a shot for the Orange to land who they want for football.
Satisfied? Still wracked with nerves? Weigh in below.