The following interview is reprinted from College Corporate Weekly, a publication devoted to higher educational marketing. Our guest was Marvin J. Skruggs, Associate Director of Athletics and the Barchi School of Brand Management at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
CCW: Mr. Skruggs, we wonder if we might ask you if . . .
MJS: Call me Marvin. Or Marv.
CCW: Very kind of you, Marv. We'd like to ask you about this new marketing plan concerning the salary of your Rutgers football coach.
MJS: Ask away!
CCW: (looks through some papers) Well, if we've got this right, you're currently playing your coach $2,000,000. Can you tell us how you chose that figure?
MJS: Glad to, CCW. Our practice has been to pay our football coach a salary that exactly matches the average annual salary of the parents of Rutgers students.
CCW: You're telling us that the average salary of New Jersey residents last year was two million dollars?
MJS: You're not listening, CCW. Not NJ residents. Just the average salaries of Rutgers parents.
CCW: And that's two million dollars?
MJS: Well, not exactly. That's for single-salary households. For instance, if Dad is the sole wage earner in the family, he'll be making around two million.
CCW: And if two parents are working?
MJS: Our formula is to take the aggregate. For instance, If Mom is only making $800,000, but Dad is making $1,200,000, we count that family as having a yearly income of $2,000,000.
CCW: But now you're going with a new model. Could you explain?
MJS: Well, CCW, the problem with the old model was that we weren't winning any games.
CCW: But how does that involve salary?
MJS: Well, the coach we're paying $2,000,000 hasn't won any conference games so far.
CCW: Ah ha! So you're going to hire a new coach. The new one is going to get more money than this one.
MJS: Actually, we're staying with this coach. We're just going to pay more.
CCW: Then we still don't understand. How's that going to get you more wins?
MJS: Think about it. This year our coach is making only $2,000,000. So far, the team hasn't won a single conference game. But go look at the teams that are winning a lot. Michigan, for instance, pays its coach $9,000,000. They're 7-1 on the season. Ohio State pays its coach $6,000,000. They're 7-1 so far. Penn State pays $4,500,000, They're 7-1. That's where we want Rutgers to be.
CCW: We get the bit about paying more. But how is that going to get more wins?
MJS: (impatiently) You're not following, CCW. Isn't it obvious that our coach feels humiliated by his measly salary? That he's got low self-esteem? Do you think a coach too depressed to blow his whistle at practices can win games for you?
CCW: Ah. We get it. So if you pay him $9,000,000 or $6,000,000 or even a paltry $4,500,000, he'll perk right up and go undefeated?
MJS: We're not delusional, CCW. Undefeated would be nice, but we'd be okay with seven or eight conference wins. Plus a trip to the Tostitos Corn Chips Bowl or the Weedwacker Bowl or one of those bowls with brand names.
CCW: We get it. A final question: right now, the Rutgers coach is making the same salary as the families of the average Rutgers student. But if you jump up his salary to $8,000,000 or $9,000,000, won't that create a bit of resentment among students and parents?
MJS: (waving dismissively) Why should the students or parents care? It's the taxpayers who fork over the money. They've been doing it since 1994. Nobody's ever objected. Why should they start now?