Pearl is golden goose

Lady Vol basketball coach Pat Summitt's recent raise boosted her pay to an average of $1.3 million per year, same as men's coach Bruce Pearl. Now some fans wonder if Summitt is destined to match Pearl's salary in perpetuity.

For instance, if Pearl makes a Final Four and becomes a $2 million coach, will someone demand that Summitt get $2 million, as well?

Perhaps. But that demand probably will come from an administrator, not from Summitt herself.

Pat Summitt is a justifiably proud woman but she's no egomaniac. She won back-to-back-to-back national titles in 1996, '97 and '98, but still made a smaller salary for 1998-99 than men's coach Jerry Green, who folded like a dollar bill each March. Obviously, the disparity in salaries was based on men's basketball generating more revenue than women's, not on Green being viewed as more valuable than Summitt.

Men's basketball still generates greater revenue than women's. Vol hoops raised roughly $4.7 million last year. Conversely, Lady Vol hoops netted roughly $470,000. That's a 10-to-1 ratio.

Summitt is married to a banker, so she understands finances better than most. And the financial outlook at UT is not exactly rosy these days. The university pours an incredible amount of money each year into coaching salaries, scholarships, facility upgrades, recruiting budgets, etc., etc., etc. The expenses will continue to rise, so the only way to maintain a healthy bottom line is to ensure the revenues continue to rise.

That's where Bruce Pearl comes in. He's a master marketer, a proven promoter, a money magnet who is a blessing to UT athletics in general, not just to men's basketball.

Consider:

Without him, men's basketball never would've raised $4.7 million. He revived a program that was comatose.

Without him, sales of those high-dollar courtside seats would be lagging.

Without him, the new basketball practice facility would be dead in the water.

Without him, men's hoops would not be carrying its weight financially, causing non-revenue programs to suffer.

Without him, Summitt would still be making $800,000. Her raise came in response to HIS raise, not in response to an Elite Eight appearance.

Bruce Pearl is good for UT's bottom line. Essentially, he is the goose that lays the golden eggs. No one wants to cook that goose, least of all Pat Summitt.


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