Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Arizona football trying to keep up with escalating salaries

Duane Akina, right, was well-compensated at Texas last season.
Photo by Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

All of Arizona’s assistant football coaches will receive a bump in salary for next season as the Wildcats try to keep up with an escalating pay scale, coach Mike Stoops said.

“We’re trying to get equitable and competitive with everybody,” Stoops said. “I think that’s a big part of stability. That is certainly something we’ve fought. Our guys have all made more money wherever they’ve gone.”

Arizona paid last season’s nine assistant coaches $1,506,510, a figure that ranked seventh in the Pac-10, according to a USA Today database of coaches’ salaries.

Arizona’s pool of money was slightly ahead of new Pac-12 member Colorado ($1,494,215). The Buffaloes’ total salaries likely jumped this offseason because they have a new coaching staff, including two assistants from Stoops’ 2009 staff — defensive tackles coach Mike Tuiasosopo and co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown.

Utah’s compensation for its assistants was $1,265,000. So, even with an across-the-board raise for Arizona’s assistants, they likely will stay in the lower-middle of the Pac-10 in terms of total compensation.

Compare all this to Texas, whose revamped coaching staff is guaranteed $3.65 million for the 2011 season, according to USA Today. In 2010, Alabama was the national leader in assistant coaches’ salaries at $3.265 million.

While college football’s facilities arms race is deemed to be crucial in terms of luring recruits, opening the wallet is key to attracting and retaining quality assistant coaches.

“We have to do it incrementally,” Stoops said of increasing the money available to assistants.

“We’re trying to be as comparable as we can. And we have presented some great opportunities for some coaches, too.”

Stoops has three new assistants, including secondary coach Duane Akina, who likely took a pay cut to leave Texas in order to return to Tucson, where he coached for 14 years under Dick Tomey. Akina made $318,059 at Texas last season, according to the USA Today database.

Arizona’s highest-paid assistants last season were Brown and co-defensive coordinator Tim Kish at $230,000. About 150 assistants across the country made more than that in university-based compensation.

“We’re trying to be as proactive as we can to maintain a pay scale that can benefit these guys and still be within reason,” Stoops said. “They understans. And you can’t put a price on quality of life, too.”

Stoops also hired veteran assistant Robert Anae to coach the offensive line, and a young coach, Joe Salave’a, to tutor the defensive tackles.

“(Athletic director Greg Byrne) helped me in doing the things necessary to help get the best quality people that we can to coach this university, and I think we did that,” Stoops said.

Byrne, in a recent interview with TucsonCitizen.com, declined to answer what Akina’s salary will be, although that will eventually be a matter of public record.

“I try to assist our head coaches, especially in football, as much as the head coach wants,” Byrne said when asked about how involved he is in the hiring of assistants.

“I do believe thoroughly in giving the coaches the resources they want in order to hire the coaches they want to hire, within reason. And I know at the end of the day they need to be comfortable with who they are working with.”

Stoops, who has a contract through Jan. 31, 2014, also will receive a salary bump for the 2011 season. His university compensation annually increases by $100,000 on July 1. His annual salary will rise to $1.2 million starting this summer.

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