Friday, August 12, 2022

Join our email blast

Civic Skinny

University athletics contracts. Roosevelt’s new projects. And a canceled 515 Alive’s future.


It’s that time of year again: Several athletics coaches at Iowa’s state-funded universities have amended their employment contracts. Although most took pay cuts in 2020 during the pandemic, they are back in the game.

Last July, University of Iowa (UI) wrestling coach Tom Brands received a contract extension through June 2029. His current salary of $550,000 is graduated and increases to $800,000 by the 2028-29 season. Depending on his team’s athletic and academic success, he could receive up to $120,000 in bonuses. Other perks in the contract include a courtesy car and free golf.

Iowa State (ISU) basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger also received a contract extension — signed last May — through June 2027. On top of his base compensation of $300,000, his additional guaranteed compensation jumped from $700,000 to $1.2 million annually and will continue to increase by $100,000 each contract year. What services does Otzelberger provide that warrant a $1.2 million bonus? Public relations and brand endorsements. And don’t forget the “performance incentives” written into his contract, which include: up to $250,000 contingent on the team’s seed performance, $100,000 for a Big 12 Championship title and $50,000 for each NCAA win.

How does this compare to women’s basketball? At ISU, Bill Fennelly receives a $300,000 base salary, plus additional compensation currently at $500,000 and performance incentives that could add up to $300,000 annually. On top of that, the university will grant him a retention payment of $700,000 if he completes his contract through 2027. At the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), Tanya Warren — who recently extended her contract to March 2027 — receives a base salary of $174,456, plus bonuses. At UI, Lisa Bluder’s base salary for fiscal year 2023 is $838,506, but she received a total of $1,222,141 last year when counting performance bonuses, including an annual longevity bonus of $200,000.

Now onto the big one: football. Last year at ISU, Matt Campbell’s additional compensation for PR and brand endorsements jumped to $2.4 million annually. And he could receive up to $1.5 million if ISU wins 12 regular season games, $500,000 if they win the Big 12 Championship, $50,000 for playing in a post-season bowl or playoff semi-final game — plus $50,000 for winning that game, and $100,000 for winning the championship. Combine that with $50,000 should Campbell be awarded Big 12 Coach of the Year, plus his base salary of $300,000, and that’s a potential for $4.95 million in a single year.

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

Last December, UI’s Kirk Ferentz extended his contract through January 2030. It includes a base salary of $500,000, supplemental compensation of $5.5 million, a $1 million “longevity bonus,” and several additional performance bonuses. Don’t forget his private skybox, two cars and personal access to a private jet. The longest-tenured Football Bowl Subdivision head coach is in his 23rd season with the university.

Over at UNI, Mark Farley agreed last year to extend his contract through 2026. Combining his base salary and media and appearance fees, his annual guaranteed salary is $400,000, with a potential for $92,500 in performance bonuses and $15,000 if he remains employed through July next year.

Compare this to non-athletic university employees. In June, the Iowa Board of Regents voted to increase the salaries of UI President Barbara Wilson and ISU President Wendy Wintersteen, effective last month. Each earns $650,000 per year. UNI President Mark Nook’s salary remains steady at $357,110, per his 2019 contract. …

Theodore Roosevelt High School (TRHS) will have a new track and field completed this August and an updated library next summer, thanks to a capital campaign goal achieved in mid-July. 

The TRHS Foundation raised $3.32 million toward the two projects. Funds were raised from TRHS alumni and a host of other community members. Notable donors include members of the Hubbell and Cownie families and MidAmerican Energy. The school also received grants from Prairie Meadows and Polk County.

The project was first sparked about five years ago, according to Rose Green, past president of the TRHS Foundation and chair of the “Roosevelt for Generations” capital campaign committee.

“Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) was about to do some work on their current track and field,” Green said. “They had already planned to invest money in it, so we decided to see if there was energy, enthusiasm and interest in going further than that.”

On top of the privately raised $3 million, DMPS will contribute around $875,000 toward the outdoor project from its ongoing capital improvement plan, Green said. The library updates are totally funded by the Foundation and will provide more collaborative spaces, access to technology and innovation.

The synthetic turf field will serve as a practice field for football and soccer athletes, marching band and physical education classes, and will also be striped as a baseball and softball field. Because TRHS is landlocked and lacks space for structures like locker rooms and bleachers, the new facilities will not serve as a home varsity football field. Instead, the Community Stadium at Drake University will serve that purpose for TRHS and other schools in the DMPS district through a unique partnership. The first events at that stadium are planned to be held in the fall of 2023. …

For fans of EDM and hip hop music, 515 Alive Music Festival has been a staple in Des Moines since 2003. But after being canceled three consecutive years, it’s unclear if it will return. 

The festival had teased its 2022 iteration, scheduled for August, several times on its social media pages last March. All was silent until late June, when leadership vaguely announced that the festival needed to “take a pause in 2022.” 

Frustrated fans have been left wondering: Why?

“We were just putting everything together, and it was just like, ‘You know what? This doesn’t make any sense to do this year,’ ” said Dan Green, the festival’s owner and director. “And if we do it, we could very well see ourselves pulling the plug in July. So we figured it would make more sense to get out ahead of it, rather than have to make some really rough decisions closer to the event.”

The decision, in short, was driven by an overall downward trend in the music festival industry. Ticket sales have declined significantly while, according to Green, the cost of event-planning has doubled, or even tripled, since 515 Alive’s last occurrence in 2019.

Festival leadership began discussing the possibility of canceling in March and made the final decision in April. They delayed announcing the decision to the public, Green said, as they scrambled to find alternatives.  

“I wouldn’t even say that we’re taking another year off; we’re not even going to promise that we’re going to return,” Green said. “The festival landscape is just terrible.”

Despite the currently grim outlook, Green hopes to continue preserving a piece of Des Moines music history, citing an “80% chance that it comes back in some form.” 

“We certainly don’t want the brand to die,” he said. “It has a long history in Des Moines. We just can’t say what that looks like yet.” ♦

Got Skinny? Email tips to

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Wine & Whiskey Walk