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PISCATAWAY, NJ—Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a delay to the school’s football season, Rutgers University has paid its head football coach more than $3 million before the team’s first game with him in charge.
Greg Schiano, who also served as head coach from 2001 to 2011, returned to the position in December 2019, signing an 8-year, $32 million contract, making him the state’s highest-paid public employee during this crisis.
The Rutgers Board of Governors approved the contract without answering questions from this reporter about why Schiano’s pay was guaranteed, which could lead to the university having to pay him long after he leaves.
The singular paycheck he gets every two weeks is enough for the university to hire most employees for an entire year or more.
When Schiano’s Scarlet Knights take the field on October 24, he will have received his latest paycheck a day earlier, making his gross earnings since his return to Rutgers roughly $3,088,189.
According to payroll records, Schiano was paid $152,671.76 biweekly, plus a $625 “vehicle stipend” at first.
But Rutgers shut down its campuses in March, and the institution soon realized it would be facing a financial nightmare when it had to refund millions of dollars to its students for their housing and dining expenses.
Schiano kept getting paid in full until May 1, when his paycheck first started to show a slight decrease, eventually settling at $137,404.58 in biweekly salary, plus the $625 vehicle stipend.
In July, a new President took the helm of the University. President Jonathan Holloway, a former college football player himself, announced the school would remain largely online for the fall semester shortly after taking office.
The Big Ten athletic conference, of which Rutgers has been one of fourteen members since 2014, initially planned to proceed with football and announced a revised regular schedule with games starting the first weekend in September.
An outbreak among the Rutgers football team helped build pressure on the conference to cancel the season, which they did on August 11.
At that point, 2020 looked like it might be the first year since the sport was invented here in 1869 that Rutgers did not play an official football game.
But after pushback from football fans and even the President of the United States, the conference eventually changed its mind yet again, taking a secret vote in favor of starting the 2020 season in late October.
The football coach was among the distinguished guests at Phil Murphy’s unusual outdoor budget address in late August, held for the first time at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway due to the need for physical distancing.
There, without mentioning him by name, Murphy announced that millionaires like Schiano would have to pay a higher tax rate if his plans were approved. A deal to approve the so-called “millionaire’s tax” was reached in September.
According to Schiano’s payroll records, about $1,411,084, or 45% of his total pay, has been withheld for taxes so far.
New Brunswick Today caught up with Schiano after the event, and asked if he was willing to take a deeper pay cut in light of the economic crisis.
“We’re continuing to do what we initially set out to do… we’re continuing [the pay cut] for a longer period of time,” said Schiano. “We’re definitely trying to do our part.”
While furloughs and layoffs are devastating some sectors of the university, top officials were asked to accept modest, temporary cuts to their huge salaries, including Schiano, Athletic Director Hobbs, and Basketball Coach Steve Pikiell.
“We’ve already taken pay cuts,” said Patrick Hobbs, when we asked him what he was going to do about the football coach’s pay. “We’re prepared to do what we need to do.”
Hobbs said the 10% cuts applied to him and both of the coaches, and were extended “through December.”
According to Schiano’s September 18 paycheck, in addition to his $3 million in salary, the coach has already been paid at least $25,000 for “extra pay,” $14,090.80 in “taxable moving [expenses] imputed,” $10,625 for his “vehicle stipend” and $300 for “athletics imputed.”
The checks also note a “furlough reduction” of $13,793.10 that counted against Schiano’s June 10 paycheck.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.