Salary disparity present in AU athletics

Based on public documents, women’s teams coaches earned less than their counterparts


NSIC salary disparities ranked smallest to largest

In the 2017-2018 year, AU had the seventh smallest salary disparity in the NSIC. Graphic by Jayden Koskovich

Augustana University paid head coaches of women’s teams who are full-time institutional employees (FTIE) on average just 79.7 percent of what it paid the FTIE head coaches of men’s teams in the 2017-2018 academic year.

The university paid its full-time men’s head coaches an average of $86,592 that year, while its full-time women’s head coaches earned only an average of $69,043, according to data the university reported to the United States Department of Education.

Through the 1994 Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA), the Department of Education requires all colleges with intercollegiate athletic programs to report the participation, staffing, revenues and expenses by men’s and women’s teams. The department then releases the reports to the public.

Athletic Director Josh Morton

Augustana’s Athletic Director Josh Morton said President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has been dedicated to raising the salaries of all employees on campus, including coaches. He said as the husband of a female athlete and as a dad of two female athletes, he would like to see Augustana close the gap.

“If you look at our competitive peers in the [Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference], we look pretty standard,” Morton said. “Our goal is to continue to elevate all of our salaries because our coaches deserve it.”

Previous reports indicate that Augustana’s pay gap is slowly closing. The university’s 2016-2017 EADA report shows that it had a disparity of 77.6 percent that year.

Based on Augustana’s most-recent 2017-2018 EADA report, it had—out of 16 colleges—the seventh smallest salary disparity in the NSIC.

In 2017-2018, Wayne State College had the smallest salary gap in the NSIC with 98.7 percent. It paid its full-time men’s head coaches on average $73,697 and its full-time women’s head coaches on average $72,793.

The University of Minnesota Duluth had the greatest imbalance with 58.4 percent and paid its full-time men’s head coaches on average $136,076 and its full-time women’s head coaches $79,559.

Ann Traphagen, associate athletic director and Augustana’s Title IX compliance officer, said Augustana may be ranked lower than Wayne and other NSIC because they offer different sports.

In 2017-2018, Augustana offered 17 sports while Wayne offered 11. Northern State University, which has the second smallest salary disparity in the NSIC, offered 13 sports.

Unlike other NSIC schools, the University of Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State University, Bemidji State University and Minnesota State University, Mankato—four schools with some of the widest disparities in the NSIC—have Division I hockey teams.

How salaries are determined

Morton said coaching salaries are influenced by many factors including national salary benchmarks, experience, longevity, education and workload.

Morton also noted that FTIE head coaches have other contracted tasks, like teaching or maintaining equipment rooms. These tasks vary between FTIE head coaches. Coaches who are part-time institutional employees—like women’s golf head coach Peggy Kirby—do not perform these contracted tasks.

Graphic by Jayden Koskovich

Deanna Versteeg, Augustana’s vice president for Human Resources, oversees salaries for all positions on campus. She said the university in 2016 created a new process for determining salaries by obtaining salary data collected by the College and University Professional Association–Human Resources (CUPA-HR).

CUPA-HR groups similar schools into different categories to create more accurate comparisons.

Every November, Augustana along with 600 colleges and universities that are classified as Carnegie Baccalaureate Institutions submit salary data to CUPA-HR. This data is averaged and released in March, creating a salary benchmark for each campus position.

Versteeg said the university considers this benchmark, past work experience and education to determine a salary range when it hires a new employee for any position on campus, including coaches.

The size of a sport is also a consideration, Versteeg said.

In the 2017-2018 season, 103 students played football while only 22 students participated in swimming. In 2017-2018, 252 male and 164 female students participated in athletics.

“That’s a huge difference,” Versteeg said. “Not that [other coaches] are less important or more important—it’s just more people to manage.”

Versteeg said Augustana’s disparity was moderate compared to other schools’ disparities in the NSIC.

Senior Courtney Place, a former volleyball player and the president of See Us said she believes the salary disparity is evidence that society in general demands men’s sports more than women’s sports.

Though Augustana has more women’s sports teams, women’s head coaches as a whole received less pay than men’s head coaches in the 2017-2018 year. The university paid $330,024 to women’s head coaches and $347,235 to men’s coaches.

According to Augustana’s 2016-2017 990 form—which tax-exempt organizations like Augustana are required to release to the Internal Revenue Service—men’s basketball head coach Tom Billeter alone earned $147,717, which was the third highest reported salary that academic year.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 11.49.34 AM
Page 9 of Augustana’s 2016-2017 990 form shows that men’s basketball head coach Tom Billeter earned the third-highest salary on campus that academic year.

According to coaching biographies on, the five FTIE coaches for women’s teams had a combined 56 years of experience at Augustana at the end of the 2017-2018 season. The four FTIE coaches for men’s teams had 44 years.

The full-time coaches for women’s sports had worked on average 11.2 years, while the full-time coaches for men’s sports had worked on average 11 years.

Dave Krauth, Brandon Barkus and Gretta Melsted—the three most-experienced FTIE women’s head coaches—had a combined 52 years of coaching experience at Augustana at the end of the 2018 season, eight more years than the four FTIE coaches for men’s teams.

These totals exclude head coach Tracy Hellman because he coaches both men’s and women’s track and cross country. They also exclude head coaches for men’ and women’s golf and tennis because they are part-time institutional employees.

Women’s teams earned only 78.9 percent of what men’s teams earned in revenues over 2017-2018. Men’s teams earned $4,474,814, while women’s teams received $3,534,174. The athletics program earned an additional $1,467,683 in revenues that can not be allocated by gender.

Morton said revenues include ticket sales, sponsorships, fundraising, sport camps, clinics and concessions.

Implications for DI transition

Salary disparities are significantly wider in smaller, private Division I colleges, and Augustana announced in December 2018 its intent to increase its enrollment to more than 3,000 students and transition to a DI athletics conference by the year 2030.

Drake University, a private college in Des Moines, Iowa, had a disparity of 51.4 percent in the 2017-2018 academic year. That year, 2,946 undergraduates attended Drake.

Creighton University, a private DI school based in Omaha, Nebraska, had 4,005 undergraduates and a head coaching salary gap of 23.7 percent that year.

Drake and Creighton and Butler University, another private DI school, are some of the universities Augustana is using as models during its transition.

Based on Drake’s, Creighton’s and Butler’s 2016-2017 990 forms, the head coach for the men’s basketball team at each individual school was the highest paid employee at each institution.

Butler’s men’s basketball head coach Chris Holtmann earned $1,790,032 in that academic year. Greg McDermott, Creighton’s men’s basketball head coach, made $1,527,721. Drake paid its men’s basketball head coach Ray Giacoletti $419,317.

Versteeg said she believes the university’s salary process should prevent Augustana’s salary disparity from widening during the transition to DI.

Morton said it is too early to predict how coaching salaries will look under DI athletics.

Senior track and cross country runner Josh Barrows said it is unsurprising that women’s head coaches are not making as much as their counterparts. He said he would like to see more equality at all institutions because he believes it is unfair that men’s sports are given more resources.

Barrows also said he hopes Augustana can maintain its moderate salary disparity while it transitions to DI.

“It is possible for a school to keep its values, even under the pressure of conforming to other models,” Barrows said. “As long as people are aware that this is happening and that this could be a potential bad direction we could go in, then maybe we could stop and start to shift that paradigm and set a new standard.”


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