As Iowa cuts sports and staff pay, its football assistant coaches are still getting pay raises

As it faces a 2020-21 school year with a lot less revenue than it was expecting, Iowa’s athletic department has made spending cuts. It reduced salaries for staffers and it’s cutting four sports at the end of the school year.

But while Iowa has cut sports and salaries, the school’s football assistant coaches are, on the whole, still set to make more money this school year than they did a year ago.

According to an open records request by the Des Moines Register, the salary cuts imposed on Iowa’s assistants are more than offset by the raises that were built into their contracts. The raises ranged from $40,000 to $90,000 for each of the 10 assistants on the team and totaled $575,000. The cuts to Iowa assistants’ salaries total $527,000.

From the DMR:

That means most of the assistant football coaches are set to make slightly more in Fiscal Year 2021 than they did last year. For example, Jay Niemann, the newest assistant coach, received a 17.2% increase in his salary to $340,000, before the 10% will be reducted, making his actual raise $16,000 instead of the listed $50,000.

Of all the salaries listed in the Register report, just one assistant appears to be taking a pay cut from his 2019 season salary. Quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe got a $60,000 raise that bumped his salary to $685,000. With a 10 percent pay cut, O’Keefe will earn slightly less than the $625,000 he did previously.

The school said in June that head coach Kirk Ferentz and basketball coaches Fran McCaffrey and Lisa Bluder and wrestling coach Tom Brands would each take a 15 percent pay cut. Ferentz, at $4.8 million, was the 18th-highest paid coach in college football, according to USA Today’s database.

On Aug. 21, Iowa announced that the men’s gymnastics and tennis teams and the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams would be eliminated at the end of the year. The school’s athletic department said in that announcement that it was expecting projected revenue losses of up to $100 million and a budget deficit of at least $60 million.

The news of the Iowa football assistants’ salaries also came on the same day that two major athletic departments announced layoffs and position eliminations. Texas said that it would be laying off 35 staffers and eliminating 35 vacant positions in its athletic department on Tuesday while Michigan cut 21 positions across its athletic department.

A helmet sits on the field before Iowa's NCAA college football spring game, Saturday, April 23, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa's assistants were set to get hefty raises in 2020-21. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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