Pelini’s Pay Cut Matters

We at The Jambar haven’t made life any easier for Penguins’ head coach Bo Pelini.

We’ve called for him to attend Safe Zone training — which he still should — we’ve questioned Youngstown State University’s wisdom in hiring him, we question the wisdom in hiring his brother and we were critical of the hiring of his colleague Ron Brown, who has since left for more comfortable climates at Liberty University.

As journalists, we want to be objective as much as possible, and in the rare occasion when we get to voice our opinions — such as an editorial, like this — we go all out.

That is why we have to come out against naysaying Pelini’s decision to take a pay cut.

To bring everyone up to speed, Pelini has decided to take a $65,000 pay cut to his four-year contract with YSU, citing President Jim Tressel’s decision to take a pay cut of his own as the inspiration for the decision.

Some have looked at this and said “$65,000 for someone making $213,894 as a base salary with another $128,009 a month coming from his buyout at Nebraska is a drop in the bucket!”

Sure, $65,000 isn’t going to hurt Pelini. He can still live like a king in Youngstown.

But $65,000 is $65,000.

That’s a significant amount of money.

When former Penguins head coach Eric Wolford’s contract was bought out by YSU last winter, people were — justifiably — upset at the $100,000 it would cost the school during a time when the faculty didn’t even have settled contracts.

Currently the Association of Classified Employees — the union comprised of YSU’s secretaries, groundskeepers and other employees — is in a contract battle of their own and facing layoffs. And we have another university employee who is willing to take a pay cut of significant size for no discernable reason other than helping the university.

People are still criticizing his decision.

We doubt Pelini is doing it to garner sympathy. He doesn’t seem to care that much about what people think about him. As the head football coach, it’s unlikely he’ll win over the faculty, regardless of his gestures. He doesn’t need to win over the public because the public loves football and thus loves him. So maybe he is just doing it to help out the university that took a chance on him.

That being said, we also doubt that $65,000 is going to go directly to alleviating the current struggle in which the ACE union members are currently embroiled. We hope it does, but we’re not holding our breath.

But that’s not Pelini’s fault. That’s on the Board of Trustees. If they want to funnel it back into athletics so the football program can buy another Jacuzzi, that’s on them, not Pelini.
The fact that our culture seems to value athletic spectacle over academic advancements is unfortunate, but again, not Pelini’s fault. He makes the money he makes because the thing he’s good at is in high demand.

He can’t change our culture, and he can’t force the Board of Trustees’ hands in how they use the money he’s not taking. It’s really absurd to hold him responsible for either. What he did do is something positive with what power he does have; he decided to give back to YSU something it desperately needs — money.

We know we’ll probably upset some of our biggest fans by taking this position, and that’s OK because they’ll forgive us later this year when we hold the decision-makers’ feet to the fire on other issues.

Barring Pelini getting some secret kickback for his decision to take a pay cut — maybe he’s getting the administration to change the name of the Watson and Tressel Training Site to Jim and Bo’s Football Factory, who knows — we think what he did was a good thing and we challenge the powers that be to use that extra money to serve the employees that work behind the scenes to make this school a great place for the students who pay to be here.