Idaho's highest-paid state employee isn't the governor, a university president or a key scientist - it's Boise State University head football coach Chris Petersen. Petersen heads the list of a record 310 Idaho state employees who now out-earn Gov. Butch Otter. The list has swelled from 284 last year, in part because Otter opted to turn down his scheduled 3 percent pay raise this year and stick with last year's salary of $108,727.
Petersen's $806,998 salary, which comes from both state and private sources, is now more than eight times the governor's salary. It's risen with the success of BSU's football program, ballooning from $400,000 two years ago - when Petersen also was the state's highest paid employee - to $725,109 last year after the Broncos won the Fiesta Bowl. Idaho's state salaries fall off quickly from Petersen's, with BSU head basketball coach Greg Graham coming in second at $343,678. BSU President Bob Kustra places third at $299,416, followed by Idaho State University President Arthur Vailas, $286,650; BSU athletic director Eugene Bleymaier, $266,115; and University of Idaho academic faculty member and dean Aicha Elshabini, $230,838. Steve Shaw, a political scientist at Northwest Nazarene University, said the news recall's Babe Ruth's famous quote when asked why his contract gave him a salary bigger than that of the president, then Herbert Hoover. "I had a better year than he did," Ruth retorted. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Here are the Top 10 Idaho state salaries:
1 - Chris Petersen, Boise State University head football coach, $806,998 (including $141,752 in state funds)
2 - Greg Graham, BSU head basketball coach, $343,678 ($285,012 of that is state funds)
3 - Robert Kustra, BSU president, $299,416
4 - Arthur Vailas, Idaho State University president, $286,650
5 - Eugene Bleymaier, BSU athletic director, $266,115 ($122,413 of that is state funds)
6 - Aicha Elshabini, University of Idaho academic faculty/dean, $230,838 (60 percent is state funds)
7 - Steven Daley Laursen, interim president, University of Idaho, $220,002
8 - Douglas D. Baker, UI provost and executive vice president, $209,622
9 - Donald L. Burnett, UI law school dean, $207,938
10 - Mark J. Rudin, BSU vice president, $203,570
* Source: Idaho State Controller, Idaho State Board of Education