Home » Burlington Free Press » UVM renews athletic director’s contract with $35,000 raise—Burlington Free Press—12/29/2013

UVM renews athletic director’s contract with $35,000 raise—Burlington Free Press—12/29/2013



University: Salary is in line with others in two leagues

Alex Abrami, Free Press Staff Writer. Original article: December 29, 2013.

Robert Corran, the University of Vermont’s athletic director since 2003, received a $35,000 increase — about 18 percent — in his annual salary when he signed a three-year contract extension earlier this year, a public-records request by the Burlington Free Press reveals.

In a letter to Corran dated July 24, Tom Gustafson, UVM’s vice president for administration and university relations, referred to a prior agreement with Corran to update his base salary to $235,000.

Corran’s deal, which began retroactively July 1, runs through June 30, 2016, with an option for an additional year if both parties agree, according to the letter, which amends Corran’s contract. The Free Press obtained the letter, along with Corran’s prior contracts with UVM, after filing a public-records request with the university this month.

UVM made no announcement about Corran’s contract extension or his salary increase at the time.

Corran’s previous salary was $199,283 for the 2012-2013 school year. He earned $140,000 a year when he was first hired — meaning his earnings have increased 68 percent during the past 10 years.

Why the substantial raise? Corran was one of the least-paid athletic directors in America East and Hockey East, Gustafson said.

With only a 4 percent salary increase during the prior three years, Gustafson added, Corran’s salary was below the median and mean of the athletic directors at the other institutions of the two leagues of which Vermont is a member.

“I agreed to get him to the median of his peers,” Gustafson said. “We’ve not had any NCAA problems … we are dealing with pretty marginal facilities, and I think he does a great job.

“I think he’s one of the best ADs in America,” Gustafson added.

The 64-year-old Corran said he still has more work to do.

“I’m very appreciative of the fact UVM wants to see me here for at least another three years to help move some of the other projects along a little further,” said Corran when reached by telephone during the holiday break. “I felt we’ve made some progress here and there’s certainly more to be done.”

In 2012-13, the median for athletic directors’ salaries in America East was $212,000; the mean was $220,000, Gustafson said. Those averages were higher in Hockey East: mean at $265,000; median at $215,000.

America East has nine schools, and Hockey East has 10.

Of his peers, Corran ranked sixth in America East and seventh in Hockey East last year, Gustafson said of his staff’s findings. Gustafson said those figures, including the means and medians, are estimates.

With Corran’s contract set to expire, the time was right to bring his salary in line with the other ADs in the two conferences, Gustafson said.

“It was a reasonable goal to shoot for,” Gustafson said. “I think this will be his final contract. That’s his plan — unless he changes his plan.”

While he has yet to make a decision, Corran said retirement might be looming following his latest contract extension with UVM.

“Considering the contract and my age, it’s very much a possibility,” Corran said. “There are no definite plans, but it’s certainly something I’ll consider very carefully.”

Corran was hired May 7, 2003, during a transitional period for the university’s athletic department, one that included numerous coaching positions to fill and substandard facilities. His tenure has been marked by highs and lows.

Since his arrival from Minnesota-Duluth, Corran has hired 14 coaches, led UVM hockey from ECAC to Hockey East, and he developed and oversaw the implementation of the Victory Club, the university’s chief fundraising arm for athletics, along with the renovations of several facilities, including Moulton Winder Field and Virtue Field.

The Catamounts also won America East’s Academic Cup seven consecutive times under Corran. The Cup, established in 1995, is presented to the school whose student-athletes post the highest grade-point averages during the academic year.

Corran’s notable coaching hires include Kevin Sneddon (men’s hockey), Mike Lonergan and John Becker (men’s basketball), and Sharon Dawley and Lori McBride (women’s basketball).

Under financial constraints in 2009, UVM went through athletic budget cuts that saw the elimination of the baseball and softball programs, the former of which drew heavy scrutiny from the local baseball community and beyond. Corran and his administration made about $1.1 million in cuts and reductions.

Today, UVM offers 18 varsity programs.

Sports like skiing (national title in 2012) and men’s basketball (NCAA tournament win over Lamar in 2012) have garnered recent success for UVM. But, in the 2012-13 school year, only three programs earned winning records. And this past fall, the field hockey team went winless, leading to longtime coach Nicki Houghton’s contract not being renewed.

While coaches are not held to a win-loss percentage, Gustafson said there still are expectations in place for each program.

“It’s not just a place you go and stay as long as you want. We made a change in field hockey, and we are hoping for improvements in lacrosse,” Gustafson said. “I think we need to do better.”

Lacrosse, which is a sport of emphasis in America East, has been a priority for Corran since baseball and softball were cut. The Catamount women, a year after a 9-8 mark, went 7-11 last spring and lost 18-4 to Stony Brook in the league semifinals. The men’s team has gone 6-22 the past two seasons with no postseason berths.

“We’ve invested a good amount in lacrosse, and I really do think we are getting to the point where we will see some tangent improvements,” Corran said. “Both programs are improving. We have coaching staffs in place that are really doing a good job.

“We are moving toward the winning side of the ledger in some of these sports,” Corran said.

Corran, whose job title has included associate vice president since 2007, is entitled to a social membership at the Burlington Country Club. The country club membership, which excludes golf privileges, costs $695 a year. The benefit, which UVM pays for, has been part of Corran’s contract since 2003.

A car benefit — most recently a $500 monthly allowance to purchase or lease — was discontinued when Corran signed his extension in July. Corran drives a 2012 Honda CRV.


Patty Quinn Baumann · Clinical Research Coordinator at Fletcher Allen Health Care December 30, 2013
This institution is no longer one of higher education. I have worked there for 33 years and am getting out right after the first of the year. The focus is all wrong. It is bloated with management. Even its supposed new focus on research is only about the money from indirect costs, not about the discoveries that can lead to improved health and well-being. I used top respect UVM, but now I am just embarrassed to say that I worked there and that my degrees are from there.

Tim Vincent December 30, 2013
Let’s see:
No baseball, no football, marginal basketball and ……maybe serious hockey.
For this, $238K
What a deal !!!
I’ll do the job for half that

Ron Epson December 30, 2013
I fail to see how this is news. “UVM AD is paid an average salary”

Kraig Richard December 30, 2013
Salary ranges for employees working in Vermont or any other state, in any specialized trade, plumbing, electrical, for instance, along with most every non specialized job one can imagine, are all listed in a book or site we will call for short “Prevailing Wages”. I’ve never been able to figure out why here in Vermont where living expenses are so much higher, that our wages have always “prevailed” so much less then Mass, Conn, NH, and NY. In many cases several dollars an hour less. Because other states taxpayers have to support obscene salaries at their universities evidently dictates we have to follow suit, even though we have so much less “prevail.” What’s sad, revolting and darkly humorous is realizing zero of our lawmakers will acknowledge such is a fundamental issue. It’d be great if just one representative stood up and announced “The Prevail Stops Here.”

Jim McGurn December 30, 2013
That is f***ing ridiculous. Corruption is rampant on the Hill. The Legislature should launch a full-scale investigation.

Harland Howard · Burlington High School December 30, 2013
He was below the median in the salary structure for ADs in America East/Hockey East. So now he is above the median slightly. He has been at UVM for almost 11 years. I feel that he has done a very good job overall and the Men’s ice hockey team seems to be picking up steam over the past few years. This year they are on a roll. Basketball is doing well overall. I am beginning to see a lot more school spirit at the games which I attend frequently.

Julie Bonanno December 30, 2013
How much do the tenured professors get vis a vis the athletic director?
To answer my own question, I just took a look at the list of faculty salaries. Very few get to the 200K level, and these are administration people anyway. I guess years of study and sacrifice do not pay off other than in non-monetary rewards.