Sunday, November 11, 2007

College coaches calculate more compensation

Silicon Valley is too expensive for computer and engineering people but I'm not aware of any firms that give relocation allowances in addition to compensation packages.

Meanwhile those same firms have been lobbying to allow more foreign workers into the US because jobs are going begging and there are not enough 'qualified' candidates here.

Perhaps if technology workers were treated like sports coaches, there would be a glut of workers lining up for these openings.

Interesting side-bar is that the coaches coming from 'cheap' middle-American areas were actually living extremely well there and wouldn't consider a decrease in their living standard just for the privilege of working at prestigious Stanford .

And finally , does Stanford subsidize faculty members to bring the best and brightest to their campus, or is this strictly for athletics? In many if not most colleges the coaches of major teams have the highest salary in the university , and many times they have the largest compensation within the whole state infrastructure. And college coaches (associate, not head coaches) at major universities get excellent salaries, probably much greater than the average faculty member. If they can't afford the area then who can ?

Having this higher focus on athletics versus academics is a major lesson to students in the real world classroom. To wonder why there are not enough candidates in any particular field, one just has to look at 2 things : 1) the current compensation and 2) the prognosis for continued prosperity in the field. This is why students are not registering to be technology majors, as compensation has been decreasing and the future bodes more of the same.

November 10, 2007

Attracting Valuable Coaches to the Priciest College Town

PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 5 — When Scott Shafer came to Stanford to interview for the defensive coordinator’s job last winter, he became more excited as the day went on. He enjoyed Coach Jim Harbaugh’s energy, meeting his potential co-workers and seeing the vision for the program.

That excitement quickly dwindled when he saw the look on the face of his wife, Missy, who had spent the morning looking at local real estate.

“I came back in tears,” Missy Shafer said. “I was literally crying.”

Missy’s tears came from the sticker shock. She realized that buying a four-bedroom home similar to the $240,000 one they had just built in Kalamazoo, Mich., where Scott served as the defensive coordinator at Western Michigan, would cost about $1.5 million more.

“What was I going to do?” she asked. “Go home and tell my children that their dad has a great opportunity, and we’re going to move into a matchbox?”

But thanks to a new way to lure coaches to the most expensive college town in America, the Shafers have happily settled into a four-bedroom house about three miles from campus in Menlo Park.

Stanford purchased a home for them to live in that cost nearly $2 million. The university also purchased a similar home for the new offensive coordinator, David Shaw, and his wife, Kori, and their two children. The rest of the Stanford football coaching staff receives a $3,000-a-month housing allowance.

It is all part of a new effort to lure top coaches in all sports to campus. The plan is being spearheaded by Bob Bowlsby, the athletic director, and backed in part financially by John Arrillaga, a billionaire Stanford booster. Bowlsby said the university had already purchased six residences and could end up owning 20 to 40 homes and apartments, all to help the coaches live near campus. Bowlsby said the university considers the real estate to be a good investment.

Bowlsby said coordinators at Stanford made a nationally competitive salary of about $200,000 a year.

A study by Coldwell Banker of the 117 towns that have football programs in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision found that Palo Alto was the most expensive college town in America. The average 4-bedroom, 2,200-square-foot home here costs an average of $1.68 million. That is nearly $300,000 more than the second-most expensive, Chestnut Hill, Mass., the home of Boston College. (Muncie, Ind., home of Ball State, is the cheapest at $150,000.)

Susan Nevins, a real estate agent with Cooper & Gamble in Palo Alto, said a two-bedroom house in Palo Alto would cost $900,000 to $1.5 million. In past years, prices like that forced assistant coaches to live more than an hour drive away.

Harbaugh knows the struggles of assistant coaches living in Palo Alto because he lived here for two years. His father, Jack, took the defensive coordinator job at Stanford in 1980 with the stipulation that he live in Palo Alto. He said the university helped pay the mortgage on his $200,000 house.

“People all talk about the academics at Stanford and the problems that they create,” said Jack Harbaugh, referring to the difficulty in finding athletes with the grades to get into Stanford. “But I don’t think that’s near the problem that housing has created for them to have a successful Pac-10 and B.C.S. program out there. People don’t realize how much money it costs if you want to spend a little time with your family.”

Because of the school’s high academic standards, Jim Harbaugh said there were 100 to 150 players Stanford could recruit each year who will both be admitted and play at the Bowl Championship Series level. That puts a premium on staff continuity. Coaching and teaching the players they get is critical for Stanford to compete in the Pac-10. A typical B.C.S. college may recruit from a pool of more than 1,000 athletes.

“We found that people that came here didn’t stay,” Bowlsby said. “And more often than not, they didn’t come at all once they looked at housing and thought about what it would do to their lifestyle.”

The Shafers and their two children are enjoying their new life.

Wolfgang Shafer, who is 13 and in seventh grade, is taking an elective course called the history of flight. An aspiring pilot, he was thrilled to find a World War II club at his school last year that met during lunch time. His youth football team, which plays for the championship this weekend, is coached by Greg Baty, who played nine years in the N.F.L. and graduated from Stanford.

Elsa Shafer, who is 9 and in fourth grade, has a piano teacher that taught at an arts high school for gifted students in San Francisco.

Missy Shafer said the opportunities available for her children range from Japanese classes to Web page design to Olympic fencing.

“The résumés of the people that the kids have access to is such a great opportunity while we’re here,” Missy Shafer said.

Bowlsby came to Stanford from the University of Iowa last year and said he could afford to take the job only because it included a housing stipend. His house outside Iowa City was 7,000 square feet on 25 acres and included a pool.

“Suffice to say, it was a shock to our system,” Bowlsby said of when he and his wife went house hunting in Palo Alto. Not long after, he launched the initiative to find local housing alternatives.

The coaching continuity will take some time to pay off. Stanford is 3-6 this season, with an upset of Southern California. And Jim Harbaugh, who also gets a $3,000 housing stipend, is optimistic about the future in part because of Bowlsby’s arrangement.

“It’s a good deal,” he said.

The Shafers certainly are not crying about it.

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