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Women’s sports at UNT earn less, pay coaches less than men’s teams

Women’s sports at UNT earn less, pay coaches less than men’s teams

April 28
04:15 2016

Nealie Sanchez | Staff Writer

@NealieSanchez

Pay inequality between men and women is a prevalent issue, and the trend has made its way into collegiate athletics as well.

According to the NCAA financial report released on January 25, 2016, approximately $5.1 million was paid to coaches in salaries, bonuses and benefits for the 2014-2015 year.

At UNT there are four men’s NCAA teams and eight women’s NCAA teams. Of the four men’s teams, three share a women’s team counterpart: basketball, golf and track & field.

The report shows the four men’s teams’ head coaches and 16 men’s teams’ assistant coaches were paid $3,402,670, while eight women’s teams’ head coaches and 15 women’s teams’ assistant coaches were paid $1,747,127. These numbers create a more than $1.5 million pay discrepancy, despite employing more women’s coaches than men’s.

According to athletic director Rick Villarreal, a coach’s pay is based on more than the gender they are coaching.

“Coaches’ salaries are based on experience but also based on the market for coaches,” Villarreal said. “You can look at our list and see that that’s pretty much the case.”

Striving for equality

While salary is not exactly the same across the board for men’s and women’s sports,  UNT has taken several steps towards making other elements on their budgets equal.

“One of the first things we did when we came here and this administration took over was make sure that all sports were the same,” Villarreal said. “You have a women’s golf team and a men’s golf team and everything in their budgets, except salary, were the same. Salary was based on experience, numbers of years of experience, those kinds of things.”

The report also shows the only coaches that receive an equal salary are the men’s and women’s track & field and cross country coaches. But this is because these teams have the same head coach, and he receives equal compensation for each position.

“Men’s and women’s track is exactly the same except for the accommodations that they have more scholarships in women’s track then they have in men’s track,” Villarreal said. “[Carl Sheffield Jr.] coaches both teams and that’s not uncommon. That’s not an abnormal situation to have just one track coach.”

Biology senior and student athlete Ngozi Nweke said the pay differences are disappointing, but she understands why there’s a gap.

“Even though it’s not fair, it’s how it is,” Nweke said. “I think it’s so easy to be judgmental, but I don’t think it’s based on gender or type of sport. Women’s teams just aren’t as popular. When we’re watching teams, they’re men’s, not women’s.”

North Texas men's basketball head coach Tony Benford talks to his team during a timeout in a game against Southern Methodist University. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

North Texas men’s basketball head coach Tony Benford talks to his team during a timeout in a game against Southern Methodist University. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Ticket revenue low for women’s sports

Nweke’s claims are supported by ticket revenue numbers. Out of the approximately $1.6 million in ticket sales that were reported for the 2014-15 school year, $1.4 million came from men’s team ticket sales, with football accounting for about $1.2 million and men’s basketball accounting for $139,259.

Women’s team ticket sales only accounted for $40,054 in ticket sales across basketball, softball, soccer and volleyball.

The ticket sales could be the biggest factor in pay difference, but both the men’s and women’s golf teams reported zero dollars in ticket sales, and there was still a $23,111 difference in pay for the men’s head coach and the women’s interim head coach.

“I don’t think you can base a lot of coaches’ contracts on ticket sales because we don’t normally host a home track meet, we might only have one, we don’t host a home golf deal, [and] we don’t charge for people to come watch tennis,” Villarreal said. “So tickets aren’t usually a part of coaches’ contracts. I think we do have clauses in our men’s and women’s basketball contracts on tickets, and those would be exactly the same.”

Football skews the numbers

Without the inclusion of football in this report, men’s teams’ coaches would actually make $614,398 less than women’s teams’ coaches across five sports. According to American Association of University Women’s Senior Researcher Kevin Miller, the problem is that there’s not an equally celebrated women’s sport in the NCAA.

“At most schools football programs are a major selling point on a lot of levels and can be good for schools financially, so I’m sure that’s an argument that can be made in favor of paying those staffs so well,” Miller said. “But I am sure that there isn’t an equivalent women’s sport at the collegiate level, and I think that’s a problem.”

Although the sports are not comparable in revenue, the North Texas football staff is paid relatively reasonably when compared to other schools. The $2.3 million in salaries paid to North Texas football coaches is far less than the salary of the head coach alone at other universities, such as Nick Saban at the University of Alabama.

“That’s the reality of the sport that those numbers are going to tend to be larger than they are in other sports,” Villarreal said. “Today I’m trying to make sure that I’m in the same position to hire the same level coach that other people in our conference would be hiring.”

Even so, the football staff, comprised of one head coach and nine assistant coaches, makes a combined $522,814 more than the eight women’s head coaches and 15 assistant coaches combined.

“It’s a different animal in a lot of ways because of the number of people that are involved [and] the number of dollars that are generated by football,” Villarreal said. “But again, we don’t really look at that part of it when I hire a football coach.”

Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said that depth could be an issue for North Texas. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said that depth could be an issue for North Texas. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

The verdict

While the raw numbers indicate a wide margin between men’s and women’s coaches, many elements factor into the equation.

According to Miller, the pay gap has less to do with high level decisions and more to do with biases held by spectators.

“I’m thinking that in sports, part of the bias is that people tend to think of women’s sports as not as exciting or not as real as men’s sports,” Miller said. “I think there is a bias happening there on a lower level that may be part of the picture.”

The conclusion then seems to be there isn’t much that can be done – unless the playing field was leveled in popularity of sports, or if females ever ended up in the men’s coaching realm on the collegiate level.

“Football is the god. I don’t think women’s sports are ever going to get on that level, so it’s comparing apples to oranges,” Nweke said. “If we ever had a woman coaching a men’s team, then we could look at it fairly. I think it’s a different spectrum of judgment.”

For Villarreal and UNT, the main objective moving forward is for the university to remain as fair as possible.

“I think it’s important for us to be competitive in all of our coaches’ salaries within our conference and to be as balanced as possible,” Villarreal said. “That’s probably the case just about anywhere you would go at the D-1 FBS level.”

Featured Image: Before the beginning of the first overtime, North Texas head coach Jalie Mitchell gives the team a game plan. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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