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Tressel's pay at UA a fraction of what he made at Ohio State

By admin Published: February 14, 2012

Jim Tressel will make $200,000 as the newest vice president at the University of Akron.

Most people would think that's a lot it's more than four times what a typical Ohio household takes in a year. But for Tressel, it's quite a come-down from the economic heights he commanded as Ohio State's head football coach.

His salary at UA is likely even less than the state pension he began collecting last summer, at age 58, shortly after he was forced to resign after being accused by the NCAA of covering up a tattoo-for-memorabilia scam by his players.

And that pension starting at $204,575 a year, assuming Tressel opted for the traditional ''single-life benefit'' plan offered by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System is the most allowed by federal law, but only a small fraction of the $21.7 million he made during his decade-long career at OSU.

That total represented ''every penny'' Tressel made in Columbus, according to OSU spokesman Jim Lynch.

His salary represented only a small part of his compensation. More than three-quarters came from endorsements and personal appearance contracts and bonuses, according to OSU records.

Tressel joined at OSU in 2001 with a base salary of $190,700. That rose quickly, in step with his success on the gridiron.

By 2010, his last full year in Columbus, he was earning $624,750 in salary and vacation pay. On top of that were payments and reimbursements for vehicles, game tickets, country clubs, charter flights, cell phones and other perks.

That year, for example, OSU paid $23,016 for vehicles leased for Tressel and his wife, Ellen. He also received $17,920 worth of football tickets and was reimbursed $10,732 in country club dues and fees.

The really big money came in his share of contracts promoting OSU football and commercial endorsements. In 2010, Tressel was paid $1.8 million for being on television, radio and for personal appearance, and $1 million as his share of the school's contract with sporting goods giant Nike.

All told, Tressel made $3.5 million in 2010.

His bonus income was minimal that year. The team finished 12-1, but was forced by the NCAA to give up the wins because of the tattoo-for-memorabilia scandal.

But the bonus checks piled up – totaling more than $1 million earlier in the decade, when the team appeared in numerous bowl games and played for the national title after the 2002, 2006 and 2007 seasons. He also got $1.4 million in signing and longevity bonuses.

OSU also paid Tressel $155,00 in bonuses for meeting graduation rate goals for his players.

Contacted through UA spokeswoman Eileen Korey, Tressel declined to comment on this story.

At UA, his perks will be much leaner, according to a Jan. 30 letter from President Luis Proenza to Tressel that outlines the financial arrangements for Tressel's new job.

With a base salary of $200,000, Tressel will be one of the most highly paid executives at UA, but will by no means be the highest paid. More than 20 other administrators, many of them in athletics or coaching, will make more.

His two-year agreement calls for a relatively modest salary bump of $10,000 in July 2013, and he will be reimbursed for up to $15,000 in moving expenses when he relocates from the Columbus area.

Tressel also can select one of the university's health care plans, which include dental, term life insurance and disability insurance.

Proenza made it clear that Tressel is free to earn more.

''We also encourage you to continue with 'outside' speaking engagements not directly connected with the University, as well as other outside activities as a columnist or writer, provided such outside activities do not exceed more than two or three occasions per month and do not interfere with your primary responsibilities,'' Proenza wrote in the letter.

Tressel's job duties, in the bureaucratic language of the letter, are sweeping in scope but vague on details.

UA's Vision 2020

Charged with helping Proenza achieve his Vision 2020 goals for the school, ''The Vice President for Strategic Engagement shall identify, recommend, and support strategies and efforts that promote student success, academic excellence, alumni and friend engagement, collaborations and partnerships with community and governmental entities, and other such Engagement as may be assigned by the president.''

After the news conference announcing the hiring, Proenza added one specific to the job description, saying he would be grateful if Tressel would devote even 5 percent of his time to fundraising.

UA will need a lot of private funding to achieve Proenza's ''Vision 2020,'' which calls for growing enrollment from 30,000 to 40,000 in eight years, quadrupling the school's research budget by the end of the decade and helping to remake 50 depressed blocks in the heart of the city through the University Park Alliance.

Longtime public employee

The letter noted that Tressel's hiring did not require a public hearing, even though he ''officially retired from OPERS on June 30, 2011.'' A hearing is required only if the retiree is being rehired for the same job.

Tressel retired with 37 years service, including coaching stints at Ohio's Miami University, Youngstown State and as a graduate assistant and coach at UA in the late 1970s.

Ohio allows public employees to collect full pensions while continuing to work for the government.

Tressel will begin a new retirement plan when he starts at UA on May 1.

''You will also have the opportunity to select from several retirement plan options, including participating in SERS, a state retirement system to which non-faulty contract professionals participate,'' Proenza wrote.

Ohio law requires rehired state workers to contribute the same 10 percent of their income up to the IRS limit of $245,000 that they did under OPERS. The university will kick in the same 14 percent called for in OPERS.

David Knox can be reached at 330-996-3532 or dknox@thebeaconjournal.com. Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729, or cbiliczky@thebeaconjournal.com

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