1. Bobby Purcell, NC State $344,013
2. Andy Miller, Fla. State $268,752
3. John Montgomery, UNC $245,923
4. Dirk Kastra, UVA $203,750
5. Jack Thompson, GA Tech $159,625
6. Bill D’Andrea, Clemson $153,000
Triangle Business Journal
Leaders of college athletics booster clubs are used to watching their sports teams perform under pressure.
But now it’s those highly paid fundraisers who are having to execute their own financial game plans in a tough economic environment to show they’re worth the big-time compensation they get.
“Returns are expected,” says John Montgomery, the executive director at the Rams Club, which raises money for athletics programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We should feel pressure to perform.”
Montgomery received compensation valued at $245,923 in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2008, according to the Rams Club’s tax returns. Included in his compensation is his base salary of $215,000.
Since that tax return was filed, Montgomery says his base salary has increased to $223,000.
The Rams Club has 22 employees, most of them full-time, and about 16,000 donors. The organization generated more than $27 million in revenue in fiscal 2008, but that declined to $24 million in fiscal 2009. Montgomery says the decrease was a reflection of the economy.
Compensation levels vary greatly from school to school, depending on the leaders’ length of service and duties – some focus primarily on fundraising, while others also oversee a number of different external athletics-relations activities. But tax returns and interviews reveal that those officials generally are well compensated.
Leader of the pack
The envy of the Atlantic Coast Conference may be Bobby Purcell, the executive director of North Carolina State University’s Wolfpack Club. Unlike some ACC rivals, the Wolfpack hasn’t claimed a national title – or even a conference title – in either men’s basketball or football in more than two decades. But Purcell has still managed to build an organization with 20,000 members
. The club, which has 21 full- and part-time employees, generated $25.8 million in revenue in fiscal 2008.
Purcell, a 54-year-old Clinton native, says he is paid an annual salary of $251,000. But he also can receive bonuses and perks, such as a membership at the State Club. The Wolfpack Club’s tax return for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, shows that Purcell received compensation worth $344,013, as well as employee benefits and deferred compensation plan contributions valued at $47,456.
Purcell has closed capital campaigns that resulted in bonuses in recent years, and he’s been heavily involved in major facilities projects at the school. Purcell’s prowess earned him a national fundraising award a couple of years ago, notes Randy Ramsey, chair of the Wolfpack Club board’s personnel committee.
“In my mind, that’s even further evidence that we’ve got the best guy in the business,” Ramsey says.
While the 2009 tax returns haven’t been filed yet, Purcell says the organization brought in revenue similar to what it generated in fiscal 2008. But that doesn’t mean his pack of fundraisers aren’t feeling the economic pinch. “We’ve had a lot of major donors say, ‘I can’t make my full gift this year,’” he says.
The money raised by booster organizations across the ACC pays for the scholarships and facilities that schools use to attract talented athletes and funds endowments designed to ensure the long-term health of athletics programs. Booster club leaders also act as liaisons between the fans and athletics departments.
“They’re crucially important, first because of the job they do raising large amounts of money,” says David Glenn, longtime editor of the ACC Sports Journal. “It’s an important but little known role in the big money world of college sports.”
Seminole Boosters Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Miller received compensation worth $268,752 and employee benefits and deferred compensation plan contributions totaling $52,940, according to tax documents for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2008. Seminole Boosters has about 15,000 members and about $43 million in annual revenue.
Tax documents show that Virginia Athletics Foundation Executive Director Dirk Katstra received compensation worth $203,750. “That’s everything rolled up,” says Katstra, who explains that the amount includes everything from his salary to the value of tickets he receives to the value of his courtesy car.
Katstra’s benefit plan contribution totaled $26,246, and he also had a $4,000 expense account. His booster group has 20 employees and nearly 10,000 donors.
Some booster organizations don’t file individual tax returns because they’re part of their schools. That’s especially true at private schools, and officials at Duke University and Wake Forest University declined to discuss their salaries in interviews.
Tax returns for the two universities do list the five highest paid employees, and neither lists the athletics booster club’s president. At Duke, the fifth highest paid employee had a compensation package worth $523,516. At Wake Forest, the fifth highest paid employee made $397,657.
Cook Griffin, the executive director of Wake Forest’s Deacon Club, did say that he doesn’t make as much as Purcell. “If I made that kind of money, (men’s basketball coach) Dino Gaudio would be borrowing money from me,” he says.
Jack Winters, an assistant director of athletics at Duke, has seen an impact in fundraising this year due to the economy. He says that after the first quarter of this fiscal year, the Iron Dukes’ annual fund is about $1 million behind where it was a year ago.
The annual fund brought in $12.6 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009. That amount doesn’t include donations for capital projects and endowments.
“There’s no doubt we will be working extremely hard to break even with what we did last year,” Winters says.
Lu Merritt, who runs the Hokie Club at Virginia Tech, receives an annual salary of $128,500. Bill D’Andrea at Clemson University’s IPTAY club has a salary of $153,000. Jack Thompson at Georgia Tech’s Alexander-Tharpe Fund has a salary of $159,625.