Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Coach Hill takes a pay cut. Good. But he doesn’t deserve a medal.


From all the fawning reader comments directed at Coach Pat Hill today over his agreement to a reduction in his $1 million annual salary — a decision detailed by Bee sports writer Daniel Lyght in today’s paper — you’d think he donated a kidney to one of his players.

Forget the generosity and altruism. Hill is taking a pay cut because he has to. The Fresno market can’t support a $1 million football coach, plain and simple.

Is my thinking colored by my annoyance with a society in which a select few athletes, investment bankers and pharmaceutical salespeople get filthy rich while teachers and nurses and other common folk (including, yes, artists) scrape by? You bet. I’ve always thought it depressing that Hill could get that much money at Fresno State while many professors scrape by paying off massive student loans. But that’s the way our supply-and-demand economic system works, and it’s what happens when we inexplicably conflate athletic entertainment with our system of higher education. Now that the market is adjusting a football coach’s salary the other direction for a change, I can’t help but be a little pleased. And forgive me if I refrain from declaring Hill a hero. He’s still making plenty of dough.

Bee photo / John Walker

Responses to "Coach Hill takes a pay cut. Good. But he doesn’t deserve a medal."

Famous says:

Hmmm. Donald, I understand your point and I want to agree with you. But isn’t it refreshing to see someone who’s willing to share the hurt (and he didn’t HAVE to. He could have packed up a left, yeah)?

Derek says:

“annoyance with a society in which a select few athletes, investment bankers and pharmaceutical salespeople get filthy rich while teachers and nurses and other common folk (including, yes, artists) scrape by?”

I’m annoyed at your annoyance. Aren’t you annoyed that Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen are rich? How much does Bruce Dickenson, Barbra Streisand or James Hetfield make? They are artists. Do they deserve their money? Miranda Cosgrove makes $100,000 per episode for iCarly, a niche television show on Disney. You must detest her.

When a city or town is consumed by its university and makes sports, especially Division 1A football, a key part of its experience, top tier coaching staff are expensive. Pat Hill is near upper echelon (no not top as in Mack Brown, Nick Saban, Rick Neuheisel, etc.), and he has NFL coaching experience. He appears to have chosen a balanced life by staying in Fresno. If he were driven purely by money, he could leave and make more.

By the way, look at the database of UC salaries. Top dog is Jeff Tedford, a football coach. After that though, it is professors and administration making over 500k and probably have benefits that easily move the value needle over 1m when perks and present value of the pensions are included.

Donald Munro says:

Sure, he could have left, but could he have really picked up another $1 million gig at some other university? Is he really that much in demand?

hilary says:

you hit the nail squarely on the head. great post, Mr. Munro.

Mr. Obvious says:

“Is my thinking colored by my annoyance with a society in which a select few athletes, investment bankers and pharmaceutical salespeople get filthy rich while teachers and nurses and other common folk (including, yes, artists) scrape by?”

Well your “annoyance” with this is well, annoying.

These “select few” make what they make BECAUSE they make the companies they work for A TON of money. Pretty simple reasoning there but maybe you ditched out on math/accounting class?

I actually do not like Pat Hill as a coach and think he should have moved on as he has taken us as far as he can and I think it’s time for a coach who can get the Bulldogs to the next level.

Teachers don’t go into teaching to become rich and actually when you consider all the vacation days they make a pretty good “per hour” wage. As for professors I know plenty who are doing just fine…those who are actually any good and end up not only making a good salary but write books and so on.

Again…Pat Hill makes MILLIONS for the school when he gets them on ESPN and so on so his salary is deserved. Athletes like say Shaq…make the team they play for 10x what their salary is.

But you don’t care how much a person makes for the company they work for and they should not be rewarded accordingly…glad you just write for the Beehive and have ZERO influence.

Adam says:

Just because Donald specified this particular annoyance, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have other annoyances. Chastising him for failing to voice disapproval at celebrity salaries in a post about the local football coach is a red herring.

Jamie says:

Pat Hill, at worst, would have an NFL job tomorrow if he wasn’t at FS. He is highly respected in the game of football amongst his peers. Sure it wouldn’t be likely at his new (600-700K) salary but would not be too far off of that. Certainly well enough for him to leave if he didn’t want to be here.

How many fundraisers do these teachers do to bring money into their University. Pat Hill sells cars, furniture, and any other monetary vehicle needed to help his program and the University.

He also consistently puts a good chunk of his own money into the program (without fanfare).

Donald Munro says:

Actually, Jamie, some professors at Fresno State bring in literally millions of dollars to the university by winning large and prestigious grants.

Football Fan says:

A few things:

1) Pat Hill is not worth what he is paid at Fresno State. A coach is paid to a) win the conference and b) get to a BCS bowl by whatever means possible. He has done neither.

2) Pat Hill has flirted with the NFL and large collegiate conferences almost every year in his tenure at Fresno. If he could make more elsewhere he would have gone to greener pastures. He has never been offered a better job because he has failed to win big games. WINNERS WIN BIG GAMES.

3) Peterson at Boise St had been working on a 5 year 2.5million dollar contract. And..uh.. their 500k coach has had 10x the success our 1M coach has had. You don’t always get what you paid for. Sometimes you get the shaft.

Derek says:

It’s not a red herring. His choice for juxtaposition was very deliberate picking the professions and people we love to hate (evil investment bankers) and compares them to the poor artists like those I mentioned.

Chukknob says:

No on really knows what NFL or college teams have offered Hill. He does have plenty of family here. Also, his son probably wouldn’t have seen any game time had he left. So there is a possibilities the offers were there. And who can blame him for seeking other opportunities.

Let me ask you this though Donald. If the bee asked you to take a pay cut for the greater good of the paper, wouldn’t it be noble for you to do so? And if you did, does that mean that you didn’t deserve what you had been paid in the past?

CSU Fresno student says:

Donald, I couldn’t agree with you more. I currently attend Fresno State and am part of the arts department, which has received GIGANTIC (understatment) cuts as a result of all the “cut backs” the school has been making. Many of the professors that have made HUGE impacts in my college education have been laid off or are in jeopardy of loosing their job. So, when I read about coah Hill’s pay cut….I couldn’t help but think that it was about time. Perhaps this is one step CSUF is taking in the right direction in resolving their current budget issues. Hill’s “voluntary” (i highly doubt he willingly did this so much as he may have been STRONGLY encouraged)pay cut is hopefully the school’s effort to putting money back into education. Sure, sports are important to a university. They bring in money. However, what good is a successful athletic reputation in a university when the university’s educational system is deteriorating? Any one who attends CSUF currently, has been made well aware that atheltics, in comparison to mostly all other departments, has taken the least cuts. Like i said…it’s about F***ing time the school finally dug into althletics. Maybe now we can get some of our professors back.

ed says:

be real, hill didn’t take a pay cut for the betterment of the university. he took a pay cut to keep a lucrative position at a mid tier university where he is still over paid. his record on the field doesn’t justify his paycheck.

does his graduation rate?

Danny says:

Just want to clarify something written above that says professors at UC schools get $500,000/yr salaries. Thats not accurate. The only people who make that much at UC’s are administrators, Doctors(who teach at the medical schools), and, it appears, football coaches.

I think some of the comments are missing the scale factor here. Cutting to $600,000/700,000 salary from a million dollars when you don’t have to pay for your house or car, especially in Fresno, does not really amount to much of a sacrifice. It is a little ridiculous when a region with so many problems pays the football coach whose performance has been so-so that much. That being said it was a good deed to take a pay-cut.

I wonder where the money the school gets from ESPN goes?

I don’t agree with the premise of the original post, ( it’s a lot harder to become a D-1 football coach then a teacher, so this should be rewarded accordingly) but in this instance it was perfectly justifiable to point out that Pat Hill is no hero for the pay cut.

Claire L says:

“Teachers don’t go into teaching to become rich and actually when you consider all the vacation days they make a pretty good “per hour” wage”

I’m sorry… what were you calling yourself? Mr. Oblivious?

The above goes to show how little you know. When one looks into the after hours that teachers put in when it comes to homework, going through the newest batch of standardized test materials, going through IEPs, grading, learning new ‘teaching skills’, meetings, etc. one would realize that what you think of as ” all the vacation days” is actually make up for the additional hours that teachers put in during the school year. That is not including how much more difficult the job is becoming. Between standards that retard any kind of actual learning and lack of parental support anyone who wants to actually educate children aren’t going to become teachers.

Seriously, people like you are what’s wrong with our school system.

Sara says:

I totally agree with you Donald.

Jennifer says:

can we get a “like” button :)

Jim Binion says:

Pat Hill is becoming a non-factor. People were once very divided over him. But now his fans won’t fill the seats that were once sold out, and those opposed to him see him as the in-law you didn’t pick, don’t care for, and won’t go away.

No one cares anymore. Pat hasn’t won. He mumbles that it’s his fault but responds with more mediocrity. While I don’t want a USC situation here in my home town, it would be nice to at least win our own mid-major conference just once in 14 years. 1999 was a tie we backed into, not a win. A tie is like kissing your sister… and we have laws against that on this side of the Mississippi.

All that said: He is here as the coach whether you like it or not. But I always say “make a negative into a positive”. I am trying to find Vegas odds on my Bulldogs finishing in third…. again.

Mike Oz says:

Well, we have a “share” button. You can post it on Facebook, then “like” that. = )

Donald Munro says:

Chukknob, you ask: “If the bee asked you to take a pay cut for the greater good of the paper, wouldn’t it be noble for you to do so? And if you did, does that mean that you didn’t deserve what you had been paid in the past?”

Funny you should ask. I WAS asked to take a pay cut here at The Bee. Everyone in the newsroom took pay cuts, up to 6%, with the understanding that fewer of our colleagues would be laid off.

In fact, there are many, many people in this Great Recession who have taken pay cuts or furloughs to help balance budgets or protect other people’s jobs. Is it an act of nobility to agree to such cuts? Sure, you could look at it that way, but I think personally that’s a stretch. I’m more likely to call it an act of pragmatism.

As for Coach Hill, one reason that he’s in a position to get the “big bucks” is because the stakes are so high. That his salary is being reduced is related to two factors, I believe: He isn’t putting enough butts in seats by winning; and in the larger picture, the market — which we always cite when justifying huge salaries — is determining that a $1 million salary for a non-championship coach is just too high for Fresno.

Donald Munro = Rockstar

Jamie says:


You clearly do not have much knowledge to which you feel the need to complain about. The AD has been cut by 5-8 million (depending on numbers seen) over the last few years. Has art really taken that big of a hit? Especially when Football pays for itself and doesn’t rely on taxpayer money as the educational sector does more typically?

Most of Pat Hill’s salary comes from private donations through the Athletic Corp. and not through the schools on revenue stream. I believe the U was on the hook for somewhere in the 300K range of his salary. So there was hardly some massive burden on the school (which always seemed to get lost in the complaints about his salary).

If we continue to cut football to suffice the women’s sports or the teachers then we will lose football and a lot of revenue streams that come into the school. The 20K + alumni base that strongly supports the U would splinter off and U would have to find even more money that isn’t there to pay for school components. Right now, the football team can afford one tutor for the entire team, one meal per day, and they can’t even afford to add names to their jerseys or rent buses to Lemoore for a scrimmage. It’s a no win situation for the coaches right now.

Claire L says:

Wait, you mean those poor players have to pay for most of their own food? And have to SHARE a tutor? They may have to take their < gasp > own vehicles to a practice? The next thing I’ll be reading is that they may actually have to attend classes.
The absolute horror!

Jamie says:


Yes, having tutors available to the student athletes is a big deal and more should be provided because ultimately it affects the bottom line when these athletes are distracted by struggles in the classroom and not fully focused on their competition. Actually, the U only had one tutor a few years ago before she left and I haven’t heard if they did replace her or not. Thanks to Coach Baxter’s Academic Gameplan which has helped these student athletes better in the classroom. Fresno State is a Cal State by the way and in being so admits students that do need help. Athletes are no different other than having more pressure to not be distracted by it.

I am not talking about “paying for one meal” I am talking about only providing a portion of the nutrition these young growing athletes need to be at their best physically. If a student athlete is forced to eat on his own then he or she is likely to be eating at KFC, Taco Bell, or some other unhealthy but quick food source. Anyone that workouts knows how important nutrition is to the performance results one achieves. If we are expecting our athletes to compete against the best not only in our Conference but across the Country then why are we not maximizing their potential?

BTW, the FB them can pay for themselves but with Title IX requiring equal benefits then there becomes the problem and FB would have to front the bill for all the none revenue generating sports.

Jamie says:

1.) A person is worth what someone pays him. If he wasn’t worth what he is paid then he wouldn’t be paid that price.

2.) I recall twice he interviewed elsewhere. In 14 years that is not outlandish. Especially this most recent flirtation with Washington when there were cries to fire him. Why wouldn’t he test the waters? It’s like a catch 22….We don’t want you here but What!? you are trying to leave? How dare you!

3.) Petersen has made more than Hill the last few years but nonetheless has outperformed people making 4 times what Hill is so I wouldn’t really complain too much.

ed says:

title 9 is not relevant to this discussion. equal funding within athletics is not why pat hill took a pay cut.

Claire L says:

Ok, so where are the tutors for the pre med students? The nursing students? After all, many of them are pulling internships and are “distracted” by the demands of the classroom.
Why aren’t the education students fed, isn’t it just as important that they get well rounded meals? Good nutrition plays a role in mental performance as well ( You see I feel the need to point this out to you because you’ve seem to forgotten what a university is REALLY about). If we expect good doctors and teachers why aren’t we maximizing their potential?

What scares me is that you really seem think it’s perfectly acceptable to give these young men preferential treatment. It’s no wonder that many of them are nothing more than an empty seat in the classroom at best, a nightly news story at worst.

IF they need so much additional help in academics, what are they doing at a university? Oh, that’s right…. making money. Money that goes right back to them.

What a pathetic excuse for higher education.

Chukknob says:


Your right, stakes are high. But I disagree that our market cannot afford a one million dollar coach. Unless of course he leaves, we hire a coach that plays crappy teams and then never play on ESPN again and even more revenue is lost.

I think people tend to forget some of the positives he’s brought.

Jamie says:


My wife and I came from Fresno State with majors in Engineering. We were not student athletes and also worked while going to class. So we understand the rigors of class and work but it pales in comparsion to those things that are asked of these student athletes. Every makes sacrifices when going to school and these student athletes are no different.

However, if we are going to belittle the coach when our team suffers abnormal injury rates, wears down at the end of games, or other complaints. We should then acknowledge that we are not playing with a level playing field with those programs we expect to be with in areas that are equally important to the field of play.

The biggest reason I know for why a student athlete needs “preferential treatment” with tutors is because they miss so much class time competing in their athletic competitions and have pretty tight schedules for most of the year.

I have not forgotten what the main mission of Cal State University – Fresno is about. I also understand what an important role athletics plays in money for the school, national recognition and pride it brings the alumni base. Athletics are an asset to the Community and University. We should not forget that. Things have gotten out of hand on a national level with athletics but when you got rich men with money and ego’s that is going to happen.

It’s nice while i’m getting questioned why I live in Fresno like it’s a prison sentence that someone can come up and say “Hey, is that FS hat?, They got that good FB team” or ” That was an amazing baseball season a couple years ago.”

So Claire, do not overlook the positives that the Athletics Dept. can bring to the University as well as the additional revenue that all the students (including me) have enjoyed as a result of. We as students had very little financial burden placed on us unlike nearly every other college in the Country, even places like UC Davis have largers fees for the student body than does FS.

David says:


I have to disagree with you as well. I’m a current Fresno State student (not an athlete) with a 3.9 GPA, and I can tell you firsthand that roughly 50-60% of the students don’t give a **** about their education. They coast through with B’s and C’s and spend their free time drinking & partying with friends. At the very least, student-athletes have chosen to adopt a more disciplined and focused lifestyle, and that discipline will give them an advantage that other students will lack when they enter the working world.

Regarding tutors: Do pre-med & education students have rigorous course loads? Yes. Do they have to deal with irregular travel schedules and countless hours of intense physical exertion? No. You’re comparing apples to oranges. It is perfectly reasonable for the school to provide athletes with tutors that can work around their hectic schedules.

Regarding nutrition: Good nutrition is essential to good mental health, but athletes have to maintain very specific levels of fat and muscle in order to remain competitive. Most student-athletes cannot obtain part-time jobs due to time constraints, and therefore give up the disposable income required to purchase healthy food. Most do not get paid (other than scholarships, and only a few get enough to cover all of their expenses). Compensating them with one meal per day is acceptable given the sacrifice of time and money and the increased need to maintain their bodies. Pre-med students don’t need 40 extra lbs of muscle to lift a scalpel.

Finally, yes there have been a few bad athletes who have made their way into the newspapers and, by a few, I mean maybe a dozen in the last ten years. Compare that to the thousands of athletes who have made it through the program without a hitch, and you get a drop in a very large bucket.

Claire L says:

Perfect examples of how society has been brainwashed into seeing sports as important. Sadly, more important than those occupations that actually benefit society.

I think that being physically active is very important. I think it’s great that people are good at what they do…. but let’s face it, they aren’t heroes.

Unfortunately, the reason that national sports celebrities behave the way they do is because they were coddled from day one, starting with the first class they were allowed to slide through in college.

I hold nothing but disdain for how our society treats celebrity. Be it athletic, music, acting, or even coaching.

What I wonder is how much the rest of the school really benefits from these athletes. I mean after one is finished paying for the additional perks, the sports scholarships, the paychecks, and the lawsuits ( we all know there are special insurances set up, we all also knows what happens to insurance when you have to use it).

izzy e says:

Couldn’t agree more ! Pat Hill and Tony Hayward should go jump in the gulf and suck up the oil. We should then take the rest of Hill’s salary and open up an independent movie theater in the Tower.
just sayin

Matt says:

Really Donald? Quit crying. Teachers know what teaching pays. If they don’t like it, they can CHOOSE something else. It’s America stupid. We have a choice. You sound like a 2nd grader raised in the “everyone gets a trophy” era. Enough on you. Pat Hill probably took a pay cut because the Athletic Director didn’t have the stones to do what needs to be done; fire Pat Hill. If the football program is ever going to reach the next level we need a new coach. Pat Hill has had more than ample opportunity to get it done. Boise State and Nevada now regularly kick our ass. Seriously? What’s so tough to figure out? He can’t get it done. Let’s shake his hand, thank him for the effort and move on!