How has the past decade been for you? For executives of bowl games, it has been good — very good.
The three men pictured at the top of this post — Jim McVay, left, Paul Hoolahan and Gary Stokan — have seen their salaries rise a combined $1,265,241 since 2001. That's an average of $421,747 per man.
McVay, who is president/CEO of the Outback Bowl, had his compensation increase from $374,681 in 2001 to $808,032, the highest known salary among bowl executives.
Hoolahan, CEO of the Sugar Bowl, had his salary rise from $227,515 in 2001 to $645,386.
Stokan, president/CEO of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, got boost from $90,425 in 2001 to $505,444.
Even if you're not a bowl's top dog, there's still big money to be had. Of the 23 bowls with available financial data, there were 20 executives making at least $200,000. The Orange and Chick-fil-A each have three employees topping $200,000.
Salary information was obtained through Internal Revenue Service financial statements for games that are considered to be nonprofit organizations. Of the 35 bowls, 23 are considered to be nonprofit. The other 12 are privately owned, including seven by ESPN — New Mexico, St. Petersburg (Beef 'O' Brady's), Hawaii, Las Vegas, Texas, Armed Forces and BBVA Compass.
The job description for bowl executives has charged dramatically over the years. Bowls used to have at-large berths and executives had to jockey to get teams. Now nearly every game is contractually tied to a conference, meaning the selection process is decided for them.
Once a team is "selected," it is obligated to purchase a certain number of tickets to the game, greatly reducing the risk of putting on a postseason event.
So what does a bowl executive do? McVay, according to the 2007 article in the Union-Tribune, was decribed as a "do-it-all bowl boss who negotiates TV contracts and secures corporate sponsorships."
But some bowls outsource such tasks. The Union-Tribune reported that the Holiday/Poinsettia organization paid the Bonham Group, a Denver-based marketing firm, $101,250 in 2005 for consulting work and commission for helping find and negotiate with a title sponsor. Bruce Binkowski, the executive director of the San Diego games, had to oversee more than 150 volunteers in addition to coordinating public relations events, fundraising, television and sponsorship negotiations.
"It's always been a year-round job," Binkowski said. "But it has become more of a year-round thing. When we first started, it was just the game, and then it became the game and the parade, and then two games, with a 3-on-3 basketball and outrigger canoe race. So we're on a year-round schedule of events now, a lot more year-round than it used to be."