No salary cuts for top employees

February 26, 2009 3:24:25 PM PST
The exchange between a reporter and Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun about his $1.6 million salary and whether he would give any back in these tough economic times has reverberated all the way to North Carolina.With state leaders looking at possible furloughs or layoffs for state workers, some are looking at the large salaries of some leading state employees and wondering if they should share the pain.

"Everyone would take cuts. You would not immune anyone. The people at the top, certainly they would take their cuts as well," offered Senator Marc Basnight, (D) DareCounty, when asked about it Thursday.

Loud and clear, state lawmakers are making sure everyone knows times are tight, but you wouldn't know it by looking at what some of the most familiar state employees in North Carolina earn.

For example, UNC Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams' base salary from the state is just over $333,000 a year. Football coach Butch Davis rakes in $315,000. At NC State, basketball coach Sidney Lowe earns more than $247,000 a year. Football coach Tom O'Brien? $265,000.

Both UNC and NC State's chancellors make $420,000 a year.

It sounds like a lot of taxpayer money in these tough times and Basnight agrees.

"We're all in this together and it would include coaches," he said.

But not exactly though. The state personnel act says:

"It is the policy of the state to compensate its employees at a level sufficient to encourage excellence of performance and to maintain the labor market competitiveness necessary to recruit and retain a competent work force."

But because that would be tough to do when it comes to things like research and sports, certain people deemed state employees like coaches and top university administrators aren't subject to the state personnel act.

Because of that, the Governor has zero authority to cut their pay.

It's unclear if any top officials or coaches at UNC would voluntarily take a pay cut right now, but the athletic department points out:

"Carolina's athletic coaches are state employees, but they are not paid by state funds. They are paid through athletic department generated revenue and other external sources."

It went on to say:

"The athletic department has just recently pledged $100,000 to a fund set up by Chancellor Thorp to assist UNC employees who may be laid off due to the economic conditions."


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