Michigan's unemployment rate is 10.6%, the first time in nearly a quarter of a century it has reached double digits. But not every business or citizen in the state is hurting.
The University of Michigan just paid an astonishing $6.6 million to compensate Rich Rodriguez in 2008. Considering the Wolverines were 3-9, that breaks down to $2.2 million per victory.
The university paid $4.1 million to cover a portion of the buyout Rodriguez owed his former employer, West Virginia, and the associated taxes. The athletic department, which is a financially self-sustaining unit, paid Rodriguez an additional $2.5 million in salary and other compensation, according to the Ann Arbor News.
"It says a lot about our value system," said Kadie Otto, an assistant sport management professor at Western Carolina and president of The Drake Group, a national organization devoted to reforming college athletics.
"For an employee of higher education to be making that kind of money when faculty wouldn't even approach that in their lifetime seems to be sending a mixed message."
Rich Rod was hired in December 2007 from West Virginia and balked at paying the $4 million buyout stipulated in his contract. West Virginia sued and Rich Rod agreed to pay the full amount, with the coach taking responsibility for $1.5 million and Michigan taking on the other $2.5 million.
The $2.5 million was considered compensation for Rodriguez and Michigan decided to make the necessary tax payments "in order that Rodriguez not be unduly burdened or distracted in connection with the performance of his duties hereunder," according to terms of his contract, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The tax obligations paid last year by the athletic department on its portion of the buyout totaled a little more than $1.6 million.
University president Mary Sue Coleman, who was paid $553,500 in 2008, and athletic director Bill Martin, whose salary was $380,368, declined to comment.