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How Ryan Day's pay cut compares to rest of Big Ten football coaches

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day shakes hands with Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst following the Buckeyes' 34-21 win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Ryan Day is joining a majority of football coaches across the Big Ten in accepting a voluntary pay cut this year.

As part budget cuts announced Wednesday by Ohio State amid a looming $107 million deficit for its athletic department over the current fiscal year, Day will see his guaranteed income reduced by 5% over the next nine months, affecting his base salary, supplemental payments and retirement contributions.

Forty-seven contract employees in the athletic department, which include athletic director Gene Smith and men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann, have been asked to take the 5% pay cuts.

Temporary salary reductions among the highest-paid employees have been common cost-saving measures taken by schools across the country as they handle a financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Receiving a raise and a three-year contract extension in February after leading the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff in his first full season at the helm, Day had been set to see close to $6.3 million in total compensation for the 2021 fiscal year.

With the pay cut, the department will save about $228,333 from Day’s salary through June.

According to an athletic department spokesman, Day and his assistants are still eligible to receive performance bonuses in the coming season, which is scheduled to begin next month. Such bonuses can easily total six figures. Last fall, Day received $450,000 in on-field bonuses for reaching the playoff and winning a Big Ten championship, among other benchmarks.

Below is a closer look at how Day’s salary reduction in the months ahead compares with his peers across the conference, according to information from various news reports:

Lovie Smith, Illinois

Like athletic director Josh Whitman and men's basketball coach Brad Underwood, Smith volunteered to take a 10% pay cut in June, reducing his annual $4 million salary. Set to be in effect for six months, it saves Illinois’ athletic department $200,000.

Tom Allen, Indiana

Allen joined men’s basketball coach Archie Miller and some administrators in taking a 10% reduction in the summer. If applied to the entire fiscal year, it would amount to $390,000 in savings for Indiana after Allen signed a new deal late last year that raised his annual salary to $3.9 million.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Like several of Iowa’s highest-paid coaches, Ferentz is taking a 15% reduction in his salary, taking back $415,500 in his base salary of $2.77 million, according to the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen. The reduction does not involve other supplemental payments or longevity incentives for Ferentz, the longest-tenured coach in the conference and in Football Bowl Subdivision.

Mike Locksley, Maryland

No pay cuts have been announced by the athletic department since the onset of the pandemic, according to its website.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

In February, Harbaugh received an annual 10% raise as part of his contract, putting him in line to make $8.05 million this year, his sixth pay bump since returning to his alma mater in Ann Arbor. A 10% cut four months later largely undoes the raise for this year. Based off his increased salary, the reduction saves $805,000 for Michigan.

Mel Tucker, Michigan State

Five months after signing a six-year contract worth at least $5.5 million each year, Tucker took a 7% cut alongside longtime men's basketball coach Tom Izzo, saving $385,000 for Michigan State. Athletic director Bill Beekman is also taking a 10% cut.

P.J. Fleck, Minnesota

Fleck joined athletic director Mark Coyle and four other varsity coaches in taking a 10% pay cut over six months, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune, promising to save $230,000 for Minnesota. As part of previous reductions in the spring, Fleck also gave up a week’s worth of pay.

Scott Frost, Nebraska

Weeks before the start of the fiscal year in July, the school announced Frost and men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg would donate portions of their salary to the athletic department, though the amounts were not specified in the initial news release. Frost’s annual salary is $5 million.

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Athletic director Jim Phillips was reported to take a 10% cut, along with other top-earning coaches, including Fitzgerald, but no further details have been announced by the private school, which is not subject to open-records laws. Fitzgerald was making above $5 million, according the most recent tax return obtained by USA TODAY.

James Franklin, Penn State

Athletic department employees making above $150,000 were to take pay cuts, according to the York Dispatch, though contractual language left some issues to sort out for coaching salaries. Franklin was set to make $5.4 million, and if applied to him, could bring $540,000 in savings for Penn State.

Jeff Brohm, Purdue

By percentage, Brohm’s pay cut is the biggest in the conference. He’s taking a 20% reduction, it was announced last month, along with men's basketball coach Matt Painter, women's basketball coach Sharon Versyp and athletic director Mike Bobinski. As he was set to make $5.5 million in 2020, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, the savings could be as much as $1.1 million for Purdue if applied over the next year. Brohm is also forgoing performance bonuses.

Greg Schiano, Rutgers

Schiano took a 10% reduction over four months earlier this year, along with men's basketball coach Steve Pikiell and women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer. Based on his $4 million annual salary, as part of an eight-year, $32 million contract that was inked late last year to return to Rutgers, it amounted to savings of $133,333 for Rutgers.

Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

Joining athletic director Barry Alvarez and men's basketball coach Greg Guard, Chryst is seeing a 15% pay reduction over six months, the school announced in May. Chryst made $4.15 million last year, so the savings for Wisconsin could be worth at least $311,250.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman