IOWA CITY — The timing couldn’t be any more awkward on the PR front for Iowa athletics.
In the wake of a stunning and disappointing loss last weekend at Minnesota, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz came in at the top of the state salary database, which was released Tuesday.
Of course, angry fans spent a lot of their Sundays, Mondays and maybe even now questioning the value.
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Tuesday that, yes, the Minnesota loss hurt, but it doesn’t change his overall outlook on Ferentz and Iowa football.
“It’s disappointing,” Barta said. “We’re all feeling that. Whether you’re a fan, the head coach, a student-athlete or the athletic director, you have that same feeling.
“I still feel the same way about Kirk today that I felt a couple years ago and that I felt when I arrived. He’s the best coach for Iowa. He’s one of the best coaches in the country.”
Barta and Ferentz agreed on a contract extension before the 2010 season started. The contract is worth $3.675 million a year and runs through the 2020 season. It made Ferentz the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten and one of highest-paid in the nation.
“I look at Kirk and who he is as a coach. Competitively, what he’s demonstrated,” Barta said. “Academically, what he does. His student-athletes graduate among the highest in the country. He’s been a part of this program now as an assistant and head coach for more than 20 years. He is a great fit at Iowa and that’s almost an understatement. He’s proven to be one of the best coaches in the country.”
Barta also said the state of Iowa isn’t unique in having a coach, football or basketball, as the state’s highest-paid employee. Coaches occupy the top spot for a lot of states, including California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington and Maryland.
“It’s a marketplace question,” Barta said. “What is Kirk’s market value? Set aside what I just said — he’s the best coach and he’s the best coach for us — but there’s also a market out there.”
Ferentz is paid from athletics department revenue. The department receives no government or institutional support.
Indiana University finance professor Ryan Brewer recently completed and released to the Indianapolis Business Journal a 242-page study that places valuations on college football programs as if they were businesses for sale. Brewer valued the college football franchises the way a Wall Street analyst would value a business operation, based on cash flow history and myriad other factors.
Iowa came in 15th with a valuation of $245.8 million.