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The Salary Question

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Roy Williams did a good job answering the question concerning his salary in the current economic conditions. Of course after the complete horses ' rear end Jim Calhoun made of himself it would be nearly impossible to answer the question worse.

Full transcript via ACC Now:

Q: Would you be willing to take a paycut providing that it would help the University system? I am aware of the fact that your salary doesn't come through the same revenue of other state employees, but even just as a gesture…would you be willing to do that?


WILLIAMS:
"Well, I think first of all, there's no way to answer that question. You say 'Yeah,' but then somebody's going to call today and say, 'give it all to me back.' And if you say no, you come across as being insensitive. Right now, I'm the most sensitive person in this room to the state of our nation's economy.

"My son called yesterday, and it was a great day, because they just told him he was finished. He’s a bond trader for Wachovia Securities, and it was bought by Wells Fargo, and Wells Fargo doesn't do what Wachovia Securities did. So I'm more sensitive than anybody in here; I've got a son that's part of the nation's unemployed. Now he's a cocky little rascal that think he's going to have a job by tonight. I said, 'Son, people aren't hiring, they're letting people go.' ….

"It's a tough time. I'm also sensitive in that I do give a great deal of money to the university every year. I am sensitive to the fact that the initial contract I signed in the spring of 2003, that it was in the contract that we would revisit and renegotiate my contract after the second year. Second year was a pretty good year, we won the national championship.

"I never asked to have it renegotiated. In fact, I forgot about it. The athletic director came to me six months after we were supposed to revisit, and I said, don't worry about it. The next year, 2006, I had maybe the most satisfying year I've ever had as a coach. I was National Coach of the Year, and he asked me whether I wanted to renegotiate again. And I said I was fine, I was satisfied with it. And we did something the year after that.

"I don't think I'm in the business to make money. If you convince me that me giving something up would help somebody, then we would really have a great discussion. Because I'm willing to do a lot of things; I'm not willing to stand up here and say 'Yes,' and I'm not willing to stand up here and say 'no' because I think it's a question that there's no good answer. I just know from my buddy Jimmy Calhoun that I'm not going to tell you to shut up.

"These are tough times, these are times that nobody knows. I can look around the room and know that it's affected the people in the room right here. But it is a fact … I am not paid by state funds, and we've had some success, and we've made a lot of money in men's basketball. And if we start losing games and losing money, they're not going to ask me to give any of the money back, they're going to fire me. And that's something else I understand.

"But again … I don't believe there is anybody who is more sensitive to it than I am. I do believe I give a great deal of money, whether it's Carolina Covenant or other programs here in our department or to build other buildings over there, or to help build baseball stadiums. So I'm very proud of what my wife and our family have done there, and I'm going to continue doing it.

"We have video equipment in our office that's used by … six other teams here, that I bought. If they fire me tomorrow, I don't think I'm going to give a darn about that video system. It was a system that was good for other people, and there wasn't necessarily a place in the budget for it, so I bought it. And I could care less – if they fire me, I have 13 free weeks at the Maui Marriott. And I am not going to give a darn about that video equipment at that time, so they can keep the sucker."

The problem with the question is the premise itself.  In this case the reporter asked if Roy would be willing to take a pay cut to help the current financial crisis North Carolina is facing.  The flaw is Roy Williams draws only about $260,000 or so in state salary.  Everything else comes from Nike, Learfield Sports and the Rams Club. So even if Roy Williams said he would forfeit his state salary, it would be only a few drops in the bucket(less if you consider the state garners some of the salary back in taxes.) Roy could have just as easily answered the question by saying his state salary is only a small portion of his total package and he is not sure how much it would help.  That kind of answer comes off a little on the flippant side. Someone could also argue that if the state salary is such a small part why not give it up as a symbol?

So Roy goes the route of choosing "yes" or "no" saying it is a tad more complicated than that.  He also said that he is not without sensitivity to the financial times.  His son, Scott, a former walk-on at UNC, lost his job with Wachovia Securities just yesterday.  Roy also pointed out that his generosity to the university has been fairly significant in terms of the donations he has made and the fact he has twice told UNC athletic director Dick Baddour not to worry about renegotiating his contract. I for one find that interesting and a little refreshing in a culture of college athletics that see coaches(the UNC football coach included) always gaming the system to get more cash.

If you had to pull a main point from Roy's answer it is this.  Yes he makes $2 million per season but he also gives a lot back and on at least two known occasions opted leave his contract as it was despite legitimate justification for a raise.  Granted there is a debate you could have about whether a basketball coach taking a pay cut would be helpful or more symbolic in nature. Roy acknowledges that but also seems to have a fairly clear conscience considering certain choices he has made in how he uses his money to benefit others.

And honestly I am not sure he would get an argument from me all things considered. The reporter also asked if Roy would do it as a gesture but I wonder which is the better gesture: Taking a pay cut and having the money go who knows where or make conscious targeted choices where his money should go.  The latter seems to be wiser and far more effecient and says a lot about the character of the man doing.