Arkansas football head coach Bret Bielema’s will be paid around $4.1 million this year, which is about $200,000 more than last year, an athletics official said.
“Coach Bret Bielema’s annual compensation package is $4.1 million. This includes his university salary and other compensation provided by the Razorback Foundation for appearances and TV show,” Kevin Trainor, associate athletic director, said in an email.
Bielema’s annual salary is up from last year, when his total compensation was around $3.9 million, according to the coaching salary database published by USA Today.
Last year, Bielema’s salary was at fifth smallest in the SEC, with Alabama’s Nick Saban topping the list of SEC coaches’ salary at almost $7.1 million. However, Bielema’s updated 2016 salary would tie him for 6th, with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn according to the USA Today database.
Junior Peyton Richardson said Bielema’s salary is fair the school’s standing the Southeastern Conference.
“I know that sounds like a lot of money, but I think it’s worth it,” Richardson said. “I think being a head coach for a D1 team in the SEC West is a really hard job.”
Richardson said the pay increase was also fair.
As of Sunday, Oct. 9, the Razorbacks were ranked 22nd in the SEC. There are five SEC teams ahead of the Hogs in the AP Top 25 poll - in order, Alabama (1), Texas A&M (6), Tennessee (9), Ole Miss (12), and Florida (18).
Sophomore Colin Gonzalez said Bielema’s salary is way too high.
“I think it’s pretty outrageous that football means that much to the university,” Gonzalez said. “The school is a university. We’re here to learn; we’re not here for just a couple hours a week to watch a football game.”
Gonzalez is relieved that Bielema's salary does not come from taxpayer money, but it that does not completely satisfy him, he said.
“That makes it a lot less offensive, but it’s still disappointing,” Gonzalez said.
While Bielema’s salary may seem incredibly high, in comparison to the total compensation for faculty and staff, it is only 1.3 percent of the overall spending, which totals $317.9 million, according to a 2014 economic impact report published by the Office of the Chancellor.
Bielema’s salary ranks considerably higher than other university officials, including Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz who earns around $450,000 a year, or Provost Ashok Saxena, who makes around $350,000 a year, according to the university’s OpenUA expenditure database. A university custodian makes around $21,000 a year, which is only .51 percent of Bielema’s annual salary.
Steve Voorhies, the manager for media relations, said comparing Bielema’s salary to university officials’ salaries is like “comparing apples to oranges.”
“Our faculty and administrators are paid with primarily taxpayer money, and the people in athletics are paid with entirely athletics money, which is not public money,” Voorhies said. “In that way they’re both very different.”
Faculty and administration salaries are paid through public funding of the university by taxpayer money.