The state of college baseball is changing, a change, for programs in our region, that is for the better.
Around the Midwest, new facilities are rising at Indiana, Minnesota and Purdue. After advancing to the first NCAA Regional in program history the University of Dayton is a fully-funded program. Louisville, Notre Dame and Pitt are headed to the ACC. Changes to the RPI formula begin in the 2013 season which provides more incentive to travel and rewards teams for winning on the road. Programs have never recruited better than they are currently are, more top talent is staying within northern state borders. Between the Big Ten Network and Northern Illinois’ trip to the Orange Bowl, the Big Ten and Mid-American Conference are entering days with cash on hand never before have seen.
As a result of the changing landscape, teams around the region are becoming more and more competitive relative to their national peers.
And with success comes support, with support comes money.
Money that is needed for teams to reach the top and stay at the top it is requiring more and more financial backing.
Following Kent State’s trip to the College World Series, going into the 2013 season Buckeye State Baseball will try to dig into the numbers of the changing college baseball landscape.
From what one can expect with the change in the RPI formula, to examining operating expenses between regional programs and national powers and how athletic programs are funding baseball programs, a comprehensive look at the decimals, dollars, budgets and ultimately wins will be had.
We begin at what it costs to employ one of the nation’s hottest coaches and what the nation’s largest athletic department is paying to get back on top.
On Sept. 24, Kent State athletics announced a six-year extension for head coach Scott Stricklin. Coming off of the programs first College World Series appearance, the Kent State athletic department ensured itself the coach, who has led them to five of the last eight NCAA tournaments, would not leave.
The extension increased Stricklin’s annual salary to $300,000, more than double the $145,000 salary his previous contract offered. Stricklin’s prior contract was not one that was out-dated, he entered it on July 1, 2011 after leading Kent State within one game of a Super Regional appearance -finishing as runners-up of the Austin Regional, but it was one that was necessary.
For the past three seasons, with every opening at a BCS school Stricklin’s name was instantly attached, whether or not he had any interest in the position. While Stricklin interviewed and was eventually passed over at Michigan State and Ohio State, the last three offseasons saw national scribes mention him at vacancies at Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Michigan.
Each successive season Stricklin guided Kent State deeper into the postseason, the pressure for an athletic department with a fat wallet and desire to revive its baseball program increased.
The opening at Michigan may have provided the biggest enticement for Stricklin to leave. A public records request into the university was replied with the fact Michigan and new head coach Erik Bakich have yet to finalize his contract but speculation had the pay as high as $400,000. But for Stricklin, after guiding his alma mater to Omaha with a belief he could build in Kent what could maybe, but not definitely be done elsewhere, the 40-year-old skipper opted to stay.
And he was rewarded handsomely.
Meanwhile in Columbus, Greg Beals is striving to reach the heights Kent State has achieved the last three seasons.
After Ohio State went 42-19 in winning the 2009 Big Ten championship and finishing as Tallahassee Regional runners-up, the Buckeyes went backwards in 2010. A 28-23 season marked the first time in 22 years Ohio State failed to win 30 games. With an 11-13 Big Ten season, the Buckeyes were left out of the six-team Big Ten Tournament, which their home field of Bill Davis Stadium hosted. Deciding he didn’t have the energy to continue coaching the game, 23-year head coach Bob Todd retired, concluding his hall of fame career.
With the weight of just one conference championship since 2001, Ohio State entered an extensive coaching search. The program opted for Beals, then the coach at Ball State, over Stricklin, Louisville assistant Chris Lemonis and Virginia assistant Kevin McMullan.
As soon as Beals signed his contract, the desire for Ohio State to return to past glory was evident, Ohio State was guaranteeing him $300,000 a year over five seasons to right the ship.
Ohio State enters the 2013 season with eight positional starters returning and five starting pitchers. The Buckeyes are deep and experienced and are the team supporters have believed would be the one that bears course-changing under Beals. Media members have pegged the Buckeyes are the Big Ten favorite and if so the Ohio State administration should feel just in selection of Beals.
Regardless of if Ohio State does actually claim a conference championship or reach the NCAA tournament, the contract Beals is operating under shows how valuable those achievements are and want the to obtain in the current day of college baseball.
The diagram below shows the guarantees and incentives between the contracts of Beals and Stricklin. (Click to expand)
Beals and Stricklin represent Ohio’s two highest-paid coaches, both guaranteed to receive $300,000 annually.
Kent State offers significantly more incentives for Stricklin, but Ohio State pays for reaching significant statures.
A conference championship for Ohio State nets Beals $12,500. For Stricklin, it is $1,500, $500 for the MAC-East, $1,000 for the overall title. Beals contract offers nothing distinctly for winning the Big Ten Tournament, but he would receive another $12,500 for advancing to the NCAA Tournament with the tournament’s auto-bid. A tournament title pays $1,500 for Stricklin, there is no distinction of a bonus for just a Regional appearance if one were to come via an at-large berth.
From there the two contracts diverge.
Beals is rewarded $25,000 if Ohio State heads to Omaha and another $25,000 for appearing in the championship series. That is the extent of his bonuses.
Stricklin receives $2,000 for each NCAA Regional win, the max is four, $3,000 for each Super Regional win, the max there is two, $5,000 for each win in the College World Series and $25,000 for winning the national championship. There are $1,000 bonuses for Stricklin being named the MAC Coach of the Year as well as Regional Coach of the Year. He receives $500 if Kent State has a team grade-point average of at least 3.0.
In total, the one-year max salary under their current contracts reside at $375,000 for Beals, $374,500 for Stricklin.
While neither represents the $500,000 Oregon head coach George Horton is guaranteed in his new contract agreed to in November, How those two figures fare nationally are in tow of whats expected within college baseball’s power conferences.
The contract Dave Serrano signed when hired as Tennessee’s head coach, provides a base salary of $275,000. After a historic season which included a stint at no.1 before it ended at the hands of Kent State in the Gary Regional, Kentucky extended the contract of head coach Gary Henderson which pays a base of $325,000. Both contracts may provide incentives that eclipse what Beals and Stricklin may be able to reach, but the base figures for the two Southeastern Conference coaches show the want to win is just as strong in Ohio as in the south.
As the two former Kent State catchers and teammates lead their respective clubs, Beals and Stricklin have the supports of any athletic department that matches any around the country. They too have the pressure to win.