Columns

Civic Skinny

May 26, 2011 |

Unbelievable: Bluder's contract and Deace's tweets

 

A tweet:

'Not an endorsement but a prediction: the 2012 GOP presidential ticket will be Trump-Huckabee.' - Steve Deace, May 14.



Two facts:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announces he will not seek the Republican presidential nomination. - May 14.

Blow-dried blowhard Donald Trump announces he will not seek the Republican presidential nomination. - May 16.



A tweet:

'This GOP field is so wide open, I'm going to cease making foolish predictions and just enjoy watching this bloodbath play out.' - Steve Deace, May 16. ...



A comment:

For Deace, 'foolish predictions' is redundant.



A quote:

'On Tuesday, [the University of] Iowa announced that [women's basketball coach Lisa] Bluder was given a new seven-year contract, making her the Iowa coach through the 2018 season.' - Hawk Central, the sports sheet produced by The Des Moines Register and the Iowa City Press-Citizen.



A fact:

Unless she doesn't want to be.



The story:

That 'contract' is no contract at all, which none of the sports pages bothered to point out. And it's out-of-whack with reality or common sense, which none of the editorial pages bothered to point out. It pays her a minimum of nearly three times the entire revenue that women's basketball takes in at Iowa each year. It's the equivalent of paying Kirk Ferentz more than $50 million a year - which, of course, the university might do in the next go-round.

Here's the unbelievable deal: Bluder gets base pay of $393,000 in the academic year that starts July 1 and annual raises that take her to $497,000 a year in the year starting July 1, 2017. Plus $50,000 a year for running camps and endorsing shoes and stuff like that. Plus incentives that could total as much as $570,000 a year if her team wins the NCAA title and she is national coach of the year and her players turn out to be good students as well as good players. Plus a 'longevity bonus' of $50,000 a year for the first two years, then $60,000 a year, then $65,000 a year for two years, then $70,000 a year for the final two years of the 'contract.' Plus a bonus ranging up to $50,000 a year if ticket revenue hits certain levels - including $20,000 a year if the revenue merely stays at the current budgeted level of $175,000 annually.

Repeat: The entire revenue of the women's basketball operation is budgeted at $175,000 for this year.

Oh, also she gets two cars (make and model not specified) and 'appropriate automobile insurance.' And a family membership at the University Athletic Club. And 'free golf privileges' at the university's Finkbine Golf Course. And 20 tickets to each of her home games. And up to five free season passes for Iowa men's basketball, volleyball, wrestling and 'men's football' seasons - which raises the question as to whether there is a football team at Iowa other than the 'men's football' team. Oh yeah, and her family gets to travel with her team to away games, 'space permitting' and on the university's nickel. The university will also pay for the family's meals on those trips.

The university can fire her for cause - though 'cause' does not mean having a crappy team. If it fires her without cause - for having crappy seasons, for instance - it must pay out her base salary for every year through 2018.

But what if Bluder decides to go coach somewhere else, even though she has a 'contract' through 2018? 'Coach may terminate this contract without cause upon thirty (30) days written notice to University.'

That's the 'contract.'

No kidding.

'Nice job by Bluder; she gets a contract worth $4 million to $10 million, a guarantee of more than $3 million and in return agrees to give 30 days notice if she quits,' says a lawyer who looked at the contract for Skinny. And he adds: 'The Regents should step in on these and require board approval of multimillion-dollar deals that bear no relation to education or revenues.'

Fat chance.

In case you were wondering, the women's basketball team loses more than $2.7 million a year. According to university documents, it has budgeted revenue of $175,000 and budgeted expenses of $2.9 million this year. And here's a little tip for Bluder, not that she needs any advice: If the revenue hits $175,000, she gets a $25,000 bonus; if it hits $200,000, she gets a $35,000 bonus; if it hits $250,000, she gets a $50,000 bonus. So if it hits $245,000, she should go out and buy $5,000 worth of tickets; that would get her an extra $10,000 in bonus.

Once again: Even if she has a lousy team and gets no incentives, in just the first year of her contract she will earn nearly three times as much as the entire season's revenue for women's basketball at Iowa.

'I'm obviously happy with the outcome here,' Bluder told the Press-Citizen.

Obviously.

A comment: And who's the genius who decided to make this deal while the Legislature was still in session and still debating university appropriations? ...

A footnote: The University of Iowa last week promoted Barry Butler to become executive vice president and provost, the top academic post at the university. His salary will be $375,000 a year, some $100,000 less than the minimum Bluder will earn. It's unclear if he gets free golf privileges at Finkbine or five passes to 'men's football' games. ...

Now, on to some political bits and pieces. The absence of Huckabee and Trump and Mitch Daniels from the Iowa caucuses is great news for Mitt Romney, who suddenly becomes the front-runner. The implosion of Newt Gingrich helps Romney, too. None of that may help him pick up more votes, but it eliminates the top competition. ...

Late last week three legislators told Skinny the Legislature probably won't adjourn until the end of June. None was happy about that. ...

Life's little coincidences. On Wednesday afternoon, June 15, the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit will meet in St. Louis to consider the appeal of Sholom Rubashkin, the Agriprocessors executive who was found guilty on 86 counts of fraud, ordered to pay $26 million in restitution, and sentenced to 27 years in prison. The sentence was handed down by Chief Federal Judge Linda Reade of Cedar Rapids, and many considered it harsh (including that old softy Ed Meese) - particularly in light of the fact that the judge seemed to be in on the planning of the immigration raid on the Agriprocessors plant in Postville in 2008.

The judges hearing the appeal will be Chief Judge William Riley and judges Diana Murphy and Lavenski Smith. The previous day, and on the morning of the 15th itself, Judges Murphy and Smith will be joined by another judge to hear 10 other appeals. That judge will be Linda Reade, who is sitting with the appellate court that week as a visiting judge.

That doesn't look good, says a guy who watches such things. Particularly if your name is Rubashkin. CV