Jim Calhoun Vs. Ken Krayeske Goes to Calhoun

22 02 2009

Last night’s UConn’s Men’s Basketball post-game press conference dustup between Jim Calhoun and Ken Krayeske was an attention-grabbing exchange to say the least, and an interesting look at how our society is viewing large wage-earners at the moment.

First, who is Krayeske? According to his website, he is something of a freelance journalist—though he would not use this word himself—who writes about societal issues. He has written for multiple publications, and, to be honest, has a pretty interesting background.

So, last night’s exchange featured Krayeske asking Calhoun a question with the premise being whether or not Calhoun should kick back some of his salary this year, because of the state of Connecticut’s—UConn is a state-run instiutition—fiscal problems. Calhoun responded by saying he would not even give “a dime back,” eventually calling Krayeske stupid for raising such a question in the post-game press conference.

Calhoun’s basic argument was that he runs a basketball program which kicks back $12 million to the university—I couldn’t verify these numbers myself, but Krayeske did not dispute them when Calhoun offered them—and thus he should be compensated accordingly. Calhoun runs a successful basketball program which garners money for his school; why shouldn’t he be able to make a (really) nice living doing so?

I went to Krayeske’s website to try and get a feel for why he went to ask the question. Krayeske’s story highlights the idea that President Barack Obama had for companies which accepted bailout money, that the people who run such companies should not be allowed to make more money than the president ($400k).

Obama’s idea does seem to have a leg to stand on because companies that accept large quantities of public money now do have a responsibility to produce. While I don’t like the idea of a U.S. government official trying to set the wages for anyone, it does not seem out of call for Obama to make such a suggestion because of the money given to some companies.

So, that is where I think Krayeske loses any legitimate grounds for his argument with Calhoun. Why should Calhoun have to give back any of his money if he is running a business which is still profitable? You could make a better argument that Calhoun deserves more money in light of how the economy is, if he is still churning out profits for the University of Connecticut. And the profits he gets for UConn do not stand alone either- the visibility he gets the school with every primetime ESPN game only adds to his school’s value, athletic and non-athletic wise.

And finally, Obama’s brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, inked a six year deal worth five million dollars in 2008 to coach Oregon State’s basketball team, which Krayeske did note in his column. I’m not saying this is hypocritical for Obama; his comments were about business which accepted bailout money. But, if Krayeske knew this—and published it—why would he try to make Calhoun’s salary an issue?

–Michael Kelly

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3 responses

22 02 2009
Michael

I think anytime you are a state employee, regardless of your efficiencies in creating profit, your salary will be the subject of public scrutiny. Calhoun is still on the state payroll, same as a comptroller or parking meter attendant.

I think Krayeski raises a legitimate point about how market driven salaries have escalated for college athletic coaches. Calhoun’s reaction was inappropriate relative to his position as a seven figure executive leader.

23 02 2009
shawnb122

Wow, I didn’t even see this. That was pretty crazy. Good job, Mr. Kelly.

23 02 2009
mikelly2

Just an additional note to the blog- I was reading today that the state of Conn. only pays about 350K of Calhoun’s salary (the 1.6 mill number), the rest comes directly from the athletic dept. which is largely self-sufficient. I don’t know a rundown of how much Conn. state officials are paid, but I would imagine this puts Calhoun closer in line, in terms of pay, with someone like the Gov. of Conn.

Also- Krayeske might have a point, but he raised it in a completely inappropriate venue. This was a post-game press conference to talk about how the team had performed against USF, not a place to ambush Calhoun about how much money he makes.

If anything, Krayeske has a bone to pick with UConn- they offered him the deal.

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