Rivals.com College Basketball Editor
Michael Beasley made Kansas State basketball relevant for the first time in more than a decade last season, and his presence put a few extra dollars in the pocket of the man responsible for luring him to Manhattan, Kan.
That would be Wildcats assistant Dalonte Hill, Beasley's former AAU coach in the Washington, D.C., area. Hill, entering his sixth season as a college assistant, will make more money for the 2008-09 season than the entire three-man staffs at Ohio State, Washington State and Wisconsin and only $5,000 less than the staff at Texas, a survey done by Rivals.com shows.
K-State released Hill's contract in May. The school paid him $400,000 in 2007-08, and it will pay him $420,000 a year – $150,000 in base salary and $270,000 in "additional compensation," defined as "television, radio, internet, promotional and other services" – for the next four years. He is entering his third year at K-State.
Because private universities are not required to release salary information, it's unknown whether Hill is the highest-paid assistant in college basketball. But based on Freedom of Information requests, Hill is far and away the highest-paid assistant among public universities that finished in the top 15 in the 2008 coaches' postseason poll. Rivals.com obtained the contracts and/or salary figures for the assistants at all 10 public schools that finished in the top 15, as well as the contracts and salary figures for the assistants at Florida and Ohio State (because along with Texas they have two of the largest athletic budgets in the country) and Kentucky (because of its status as a traditional basketball power).
"The number ($420,000) is staggering," an SEC assistant who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Rivals.com. "It might be better for assistant coaches if he got $300,000 because then it's closer to what some guys make and you could see asking for something close to that. But that number is just so far out there I don't think any assistant would go in and ask for more."
The consensus opinion of coaches and assistants we spoke with is that Hill's contract is an anomaly and will have little ripple effect. But did it cause schools to look askance at K-State? Absolutely.
"I'm sure there is some resentment, probably in his own athletic department," the SEC assistant said. "What about the assistant football coaches there? What about other assistants in that league?"
K-State athletic director Bob Krause knows Hill's contract raised eyebrows. He says his intention wasn't to make headlines, only to do what he believed was right for his institution.
"It was a unique set of circumstances at a given point in time," Krause told Rivals.com. "It met our institutional needs as well as our staff's needs and was the right thing to do for us."
When asked if he had any concern about disrupting the salary structure of assistants nationwide, Krause replied, "None whatsoever."
Hill told Rivals.com that he knew of the salary figure before last season, even though it didn't become public until May. He said he had told most of his close friends in coaching and already had joked with them about it.
The salaries of the assistants at the schools in last season's Final Four pale in comparison to the $420,000 Kansas State assistant Dalonte Hill will be paid in 2008-09. Here are the salaries of the 12 assistants from national champion Kansas, runner-up Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA, ranked in order:
"I'm sure there is some resentment," Hill told Rivals.com. "There are some guys in the business who have accomplished a lot of things. This just shows it's a new day and age. You know, for a long time Michael Jordan was paid just $2 million a year.
"There are some great assistants out there who deserve it, but it's not my place to give it to them, you know? I just hope they're not mad at me for getting what I got."
Krause said no athletic directors have called him to complain about K-State's deal with Hill.
"I haven't heard from anyone," Krause said. "Then again, I haven't called Alabama and said what are you doing with Nick Saban's salary or called Lew Perkins at Kansas and asked about Bill Self's salary. I would assume there have been stories written about (Hill's contract) being a concern on the national salary setting, but we're comfortable with it."
Technically, Hill's salary figure of $150,000 is in line with other assistants. But no other contract that we examined had an "additional compensation" package like that of Hill's.
The highest-paid assistant among the 13 schools we studied was North Carolina's Joe Holladay ($265,000). Fellow Tar Heels assistant Steve Robinson was second ($242,000), and all three Kansas assistants tied for third at $234,000.
Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins passed our interview request to Jim Marchiony, KU"s associate athletic director for external relations. When asked for his school's reaction to Hill's contract, he said KU "didn't address contracts of coaches at other schools."
When asked if it had an impact on the salary structure for assistants anywhere, Marchiony said, "No, not here."
Hill said he hoped it would.
"We do a lot of the stuff that we don't get credit for," Hill said. "Everybody always says how great the head coach is, but you don't hear that much talk about how great the staff is. This will show some appreciation for the guys putting in the 12-hour days and doing the work behind the scenes.
"I'm not sure the numbers will be the same as mine, but athletic directors will get with head coaches and see what they can work out."
Tony Bennett's assistants at Washington State were the lowest-paid in the Rivals.com survey. Each of his three assistants made $85,000 in 2007-08, a total of $255,000. They received raises of $25,000 each for the upcoming season, but the salary total is just $330,000, well below Hill's $420,000.
Bo Ryan's assistants at Wisconsin will make $402,799 in 2008-09, led by associate head coach Greg Gard's $160,000. Gard received a significant raise, too, because his promotion to associate head coach came this offseason. The bump was $26,115 over last season, a raise of 19.5 percent. The Badgers have been one of the nation's winningest programs since Ryan took over in 2001, and Gard has been on the staff for all seven seasons.
Ohio State and Texas rank first and second, respectively, in the nation in athletic budgets (each are above $100 million), but not much of it is going to basketball assistants.
Last season, Ohio State's assistant salaries totaled nearly $500,000. But when top assistant John Groce took the coaching job at Ohio University, the Buckeyes replaced him at a lower salary. Groce was paid $225,000 last season. The newest addition to Thad Matta's staff, Brandon Miller, is making $135,000. It's the same salary as staff holdovers Alan Major and Archie Miller, bringing their total to $405,000.
The basketball assistants' salaries at Texas, a member of the Big 12 along with K-State, total $425,000 for the upcoming season. Russell Springmann and Rodney Terry each make $167,500, and Chris Ogden pulls in $90,000.
"I'd tell every one of those guys you can't even worry about it," a current coach who was an assistant in two of the "Big Six" conferences told Rivals.com on the condition of anonymity. "You're working for Rick Barnes, who I think is one of the best in our game, and you live in Austin, Texas, and you have all of those resources of the University of Texas.
"We all have our different timelines. If you're in it for the long haul, it matters more who you're with than what you're making."
Hill played three seasons at Charlotte (1997-2000) before transferring and playing his final season at Division II Bowie (Md.) State. He coached the DC Assault in the AAU ranks for two years before Bobby Lutz hired him to be an assistant at Charlotte.
After three years with the 49ers, Bob Huggins lured Hill to Kansas State. Hill was responsible for the recruitment of Beasley, who stuck with his pledge to play for the Wildcats even though Huggins left for West Virginia after just one season.
Hill coached Beasley in the AAU ranks, and Beasley called him "like a big brother." Beasley had committed to Charlotte while Hill was still there. When Huggins lured Hill to K-State, Beasley followed him. By then, Beasley had become the No. 1 prospect in the country.
In his final season at Charlotte, the 2005-06 campaign, Hill made $70,000.
Hill's contract extension at K-State came five months after he was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The incident occurred in the wee hours of the morning after Kansas State's upset of Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats' first home win over the rival Jayhawks since 1983. Hill and coach Frank Martin agreed he should not be on the bench for the next game, against Missouri.
At the time the contract became public, Krause justified it by saying K-State's salary structure with the head coach included is in line with the rest of the Big 12, which is true. Martin makes $760,000; coupled with Hill's deal, that is $1.18 million. Texas' Barnes makes $2 million.
Krause told the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World that Hill put the K-State program on a different plane when he secured the signing of Beasley.
"I'd hate to put a value on what the exposure, both print and electronic, has been on Michael," Krause told the newspaper. "That's an identification with a guy who's a very strong advocate of K-State and, in his own words, will always be a part of the K-State family. Michael's love for K-State – it's priceless, just priceless."
If you were going to put a price on it, it apparently would start at around $420,000 a year.
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.