By CHARLES YOUNG
The Exponent Telegram
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Athletic coaches, university administrators and doctors were among the highest-paid employees of the state in 2016.
The state’s top-earning employees all worked at universities, state-run hospitals and governmental agencies.
According to the State Employee Total Compensation Report complied by the state Auditor’s Office, West Virginia University head basketball coach Bob Huggins was the state’s highest-paid employee, with a salary of $3,526,988.36.
Marshall University head football coach John “Doc” Holliday was paid $792,568.77 and WVU President Gordon Gee made $789,793.94.
Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean for health services at WVU, was the state’s highest-paid medical employee, earning $441,870.08.
Paul Hill, chancellor of the state’s Higher Education Commission, was the highest-paid non-university employee, receiving $276,988.73.
Dr. Allen Mock, the state’s chief medical examiner in the Department of Health and Human Resources, was the second-highest-paid non-university employee, with a salary of $215,808.
While these figures may seem staggering in a state where the average per capita income is just $23,450, they are nowhere near the highest in the country.
According to data compiled by USA Today on NCAA finances, the nation’s highest paid state employee is Nick Saban, University of Alabama head football coach, who was paid more than $7 million during the 2014-15 academic year.
WVU’s athletic director, Shane Lyons, said although the university’s coaching staff are employees of the state, no public funds go toward funding their salaries.
“We are 100 percent self-sufficient, so none of that comes from taxpayer money,” Lyons said. “All of our money comes from our ticket revenues, our conference affiliation, and Big 12 distribution.”
Lyons said salaries are based on experience, what the individual brings to the program and the average salaries of coaches at peer institutions.
“You have to look at the market. So obviously we do our salaries compared to other schools in the Big 12 Conference,” he said.
According to USA Today, WVU’s athletic programs generated more than $90 million in revenues during the 2014-15 academic year — the most recent year for which such data is available.
During the same time period, Marshall’s athletics programs brought in more than $27 million.
John Bolt, a spokesman for WVU, said administrative salaries are partially funded through public money and partially subsidized by grants and endowments.
Bolt said Gee’s base pay of $675,000 per year, comes from the taxpayers while the rest comes from private funds.
“The remaining $125,000 is privately provided from the Milan Puskar Presidential Chair Endowment via the WVU Foundation,” Bolt said.
Bolt said Gee’s current contract, which runs through June 30, 2021, includes two “retention bonuses.”
The retention payments would also come from the Puskar Endowment and would not include any public money, Bolt said.
Ginny Painter, senior vice president for Communications and Marketing at Marshall, said salaries at Marshall are decided in a similar manner.
“The president’s salary is paid by state funds, which includes tuition revenue,” Painter said. “The football coach’s salary also comes from state funds and includes proceeds from season ticket sales and the university’s athletic marketing contract. Part of his salary is also offset by donations to the Big Green.”
The Big Green Scholarship Foundation is Marshall’s athletic scholarship fund, used to supplement athletic costs.
Cathy Price, deputy state auditor for public affairs for the Auditor’s Office, said it’s important for every West Virginian to understand how their tax dollars are being spent.
“Every employee of state government is an employee of the people of West Virginia. As such, their salaries should be known to their employers,” Price said.
Price said it’s the responsibility of the Auditor’s office to make such information publicly available so that citizens can hold the government accountable.
““Every dollar that comes to the state Capitol in Charleston is a dollar earned by the people of West Virginia,” Price said. “Because the government is run on the peoples’ money, it is incumbent upon our office to make government spending as transparent as possible.“
For more information on the state’s highest paid employees and to view the State Employee Total Compensation Report, visit vista.wvsao.gov.
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