Keeler’s salary disclosed for first time
Hens’ football coach earns more than $300,000 per year, tax records show
Published: Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 03:09
Ending years of speculation about the salary of the Hens' football coach, the university has for the first time released documents that show K.C. Keeler is among the highest-paid coaches in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Keeler, who took over the head coaching job in 2002, earned a salary of $310,662 in fiscal year 2009, which spans from July 2008 to June 2009, according to university tax records obtained by The Review.
That includes a base salary of $251,083, a $37,000 bonus and $22,579 in other perks, such as use of a university vehicle, said university spokesman David Brond.
He also received an additional $74,678 in non-taxable benefits, such as health care, and deferred compensation, which he will collect upon retirement.
"His compensation is based on the team's success on the field and incentives for the team off the field—academic performance goals and stuff like that," Brond said.
But, according to experts, Keeler's actual annual pay could be higher. In addition to a salary from their universities, many coaches also receive money from signing endorsement deals and television contracts, giving lectures or running summer camps, according to Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College in Massachusetts.
It is unknown whether Keeler receives any such additional pay, as those contracts would not be publicly available.
The salary figures were released as part of the university's 990 tax form. Tax-exempt organizations, such as universities, are required by law to list the salaries of their officers and key employees on the form.
New federal requirements, which went into effect this year, have expanded what information needs to be included on the form. Organizations now must release salary information in more detail and for more employees.
For the first time, the Hens' football coach met the requirements for inclusion in the 990, Brond said.
‘Certainly above the median'
An analysis by The Review shows that Keeler is among the highest-paid coaches in the CAA—if not the highest-paid.
Five of the 10 CAA schools that have a football program responded to the newspaper's Freedom of Information Act request for their 2009 salary information. Another school's information was obtained from a database compiled by the Collegiate Times.
The University of Richmond and Villanova University are private schools and are not required to disclose salaries. Two other schools, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Rhode Island, ignored repeated requests for information.
The analysis includes only base salary, bonuses and other perks, and does not take into account deferred compensation or health care benefits.
Keeler's compensation exceeded that of the football coaches of all the CAA schools for which information was available.
The closest salary to Keeler's belonged to Mickey Matthews at James Madison University. Matthews, who has coached at JMU since 1999, earned $248,000 in 2009. That included $222,000 in base pay, a $18,000 vehicle allowance and $8,000 in discretionary spending.
All the other head coaches had salaries under $200,000.
Brond acknowledged that Keeler's salary is among the highest in the CAA.
"It's certainly above the median," he said.
A mixed record of success
Keeler's 2009 compensation was set by then-athletic director Edgar Johnson, who has since retired, Brond said. Future compensation will be set by Johnson's successor, Bernard Muir.
Both his base pay and bonus are decided based on the team's performance, as well as off-the-field measures such as player discipline and academic performance.
"His success before he got here and his success early on here is what drove what we're paying him," Brond said.
Keeler, a 1981 university alumnus and a former linebacker for Delaware, was named head coach of the Hens in 2002, taking over for long-time coach Tubby Raymond. Prior to coming to Delaware, Keeler led Division III Rowan to five national championship games.
In his second season coaching at Delaware, Keeler led the Hens to their first national championship title since 1979. The team made the playoffs again the following year and lost in the championship game in 2007.
But the Hens have had limited success in the other five years Keeler has been head coach. Keeler, 51, has also faced frequent criticism from some fans who fault him for relying too heavily on transfer players, especially quarterbacks, rather than recruiting players out of high school.
Keeler would not comment Monday when asked about his salary at his weekly press conference.
Brond said Keeler is contractually prohibited from speaking publicly about his salary, but Keeler asked Brond to emphasize his record of success.
"He mentioned that he's coached in nine national championships or final four games, so he has a track record," Brond said. "He's the only football coach in the history of the CAA conference to coach in two national championship games."
A growing trend
Several experts say that high salaries have been the norm in college football in recent years.
"Salary levels have been creeping up over time," Zimbalist said.
He said Keeler's salary sounds normal for the level and size of the university's football program.
"For I-AA, it's pretty much par for the course," Zimbalist said. "But given that I-AA teams don't generate much revenue, it's an excessive salary that's higher than 99 percent of the faculty."
The median salary for head coaches in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA, is $180,000 and is on the rise, according to Amy Perko, executive director of the Knight Commission, which advocates financial responsibility in college sports.