Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pucks and Bucks

When men's hockey coach Roger Grillo departed Brown at the end of May, we noted his terrible career record.

According to the College Hockey News, the search for a replacement for Grillo has not been easy. Prominent Brown alumni and other well-qualified candidates have not been interviewing for the job, and CHN speculates that this may have something to do with the salary, which it claims is the lowest in the ECAC:
The mean ECAC head coaching salary is around $150,000 annually, and Brown is nowhere near that. In addition, its staff is barely given the resources of what part timers would get.
USHR claims that Brown is offering $85,000, which would be comically low.

What does Cornell coach Mike Schafer '86 make? It's tough to find out, for several reasons.

First, the published salaries of Division I hockey coaches often paint an incomplete picture. Many coaches earn a large part of their income from camps over the summer, in the form of cars and other perks, or gifts from boosters associations. Any figure from Cornell about Schafer's salary would be only partly accurate.

Second, and more obviously, Cornell does not publish salary figures for any high-profile employees, except for the president. (Skorton makes over $700,000 yearly.)

Still, it's fun to guess.

Back in April 2005, the US Hockey Report wrote that Schafer was a top candidate for the head coaching job at Notre Dame. USHR reported that Notre Dame was prepared to offer Schafer $200,000 a year for five years, and implied that this was more than his current salary ("It’s hard to see Cornell being able to match Notre Dame when it comes to coaches’ salaries.")

Schafer, of course, remained at Cornell.

One year later, USHR again referenced Schafer's salary position when reporting on the search for a new coach at RPI:
Don Vaughn, Colgate head coach: We’re hearing his name in a serious way. It seems like a lateral move (and perhaps not even that) to us. Could it be for leverage? Certainly worked for Mike Schafer a year ago when the Notre Dame job opened up.
This implies that Schafer used the Notre Dame job opening (and possible offer) as a way to increase his salary at Cornell.

Then again, this report by USHR said nothing about the man RPI actually hired in 2006 (Seth Appert), so who knows how much faith we should place in it.

One possible way to figure out Schafer's salary would be to find out more about the gift by Jay R. Bloom '77 to endow the position of men's hockey coach. Taking 5% of that figure might give a ballpark estimate. Naturally, there is no record of this donation on the Cornell website or the Ithaca Journal archives.

I would guess that Schafer makes around $200,000 per year. This would mean that Cornell upped Schafer's pay to meet what Notre Dame was offering him, and it places him comfortably above the league average, which is something he deserves at this point. (Bloom's gift would have been around $4m assuming a 5% return.)

This figure would also fit in well nationally. Programs of similar stature pay their coaches similar amounts -- the Ohio State coach makes around $225,000, the Wisconsin coach makes around $250,000, the Minnesota coach makes the same amount, and Maine's coach brings in $156,000 (which strikes me as a little low).

The UNH coach is the state's highest paid employee, earning $382,000, and lowly UConn's coach only brings in $80,000. It would make sense that Schafer's salary would be in the upper range of D-1 salaries.

Besides, there isn't a particularly compelling reason for Schafer to need more money. Ithaca's cost of living is pretty low. He lives in a $485,000 house built three years ago, and his job at Cornell is absolutely secure. Most observers think it's only a matter of time before someone at the NHL level offers Schafer an assistant coaching job, so things are looking up.

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