Nearly 100 administrators and coaches at the University of Nebraska receive either paid cars or free memberships to country clubs.
Most of them get both.
Most of the beneficiaries were coaches at the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln and Omaha campuses. A few were administrators. While the amount of each employee’s perk varies, the combined value is over $2.25 million.
UNL Head Volleyball Coach John Cook is able to drive a 2013 Lexus thanks to his perk. Head Football Coach Bo Pellini enjoys a 2012 Nissan Armada and a membership at the Country Club of Lincoln–on top of his nearly $3 million salary.
The extent of the perks was made public by an education watchdog group called Common Cause Nebraska, and was published in the Omaha World-Herald. CC-Nebraska Chairperson Jack Gould said that even though the perks are funded through mostly private means–alumni associations and athletic funds–state taxpayers deserve to know that public officials are living like kings.
“When you begin to see more and more private money going to public officials, where do the loyalties lie?” said Gould in a statement. “The public needs to know how this money is being used.”
The University of Nebraska Foundation, which paid the bill for the cars and other benefits, maintained that such perks are necessary to enhance the prestige of the university and its sports teams.
But Robert Malekoff. a professor of sports studies at Guilford College and former Division I coach, told the World-Herald that administrative compensation in universities and athletic departments has become an “arms race.”
“It’s really a reflection of this arms race that manifests itself in ways that do cost the university, or at least require a lot of spending,” he said.
Giving every head coach a Lexus made indeed give the university’s reputation a boost, but it’s unlikely to impress taxpayers or debt-weary students. A UNL education costs students $8,000 per year.
The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.