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Salary grid has coaches cashing the hefty checks


Majority of jobs at top of state list are in academia

OLYMPIA – The best-paying state jobs in Washington are still in academia, with the very best in athletics.

The annual listing of salaries for all state employees shows once again that the biggest paychecks in 2011 went to staff at either the University of Washington or Washington State University, with the top five going to coaches of the two schools’ football and basketball teams.

Huskies football coach Steve Sarkisian heads the list of state employees, with an annual salary topping $2.5 million. He also saw the biggest increase from 2010, with an increase of $546,000.

University officials are always quick to point out, however, that salaries for coaches and the other athletic departments’ staffs don’t come out of state tax dollars. They are covered by a combination of ticket sales and broadcast revenues.

UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar is second, with a little more than $1.2 million. WSU basketball coach Ken Bone, former WSU football coach Paul Wulff and former UW assistant coach Nick Holt round out the top five before the first non-coach, WSU President Elson Floyd, shows up on the list at $625,000.

The list represents all payments made to state employees, whether they come from the state General Fund, which covers most programs and services, other state funds that are fed by special taxes for special services, such as gasoline taxes for transportation programs, or from grants, endowments or special contracts that pass through the state on the way to the employee.

It only covers 2011, so Wulff’s replacement, Mike Leach, who wasn’t hired until the end of November, only shows up at $187,500. UW President Michael Young, who started in that job in the middle of the year, is at $281,000. Even so, both received more than Gov. Chris Gregoire, whose salary was $164,391.48. That also was less than the state’s investment officers, the state actuary, a handful of physicians for the state Department of Corrections, a pair of assistant basketball coaches at UW and two assistant football coaches for the Cougars.

The governor was 1,072 on the list of state employees’ salaries. Most of the six-figure salaries ahead of her went to academia, almost 800 of them to the University of Washington and 113 to WSU. That includes salaries for presidents and vice presidents, chancellors, provosts and deans, as well as many professors who are working on research projects where corporate grants cover some or all of their salaries.

The salary list also suggests that while hiring cutbacks and freezes are in place in many state agencies, they are not at some of the state’s universities. The list covers all employees receiving a paycheck, whether full- or part-time, so year-to-year comparisons between 2010 and 2011 aren’t exact because several part-time jobs in one year could have been combined into a single full-time job in another, and they count employees who worked one day as well as those who worked the full year.

But a straight-up comparison of the employee head counts shows the University of Washington’s payroll grew by more than 1,100 people between 2010 and 2011, and the total payroll grew by about $61 million. At WSU, the head count grew by about 70 people, but the overall payroll declined by about $25 million.

After UW, which has the largest state payroll, the next nine state departments or institutions all had lower payrolls: Social and Health Services, Transportation, Corrections, WSU, Labor and Industries, State Patrol, Employment Security, Western Washington University and Ecology.