BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - During Western Kentucky's Board of Regents meeting on Friday, May 15, it was announced the football staff would be getting a raise, some members have much as 17 percent.
The decision was met with mixed reviews.
"That is a larger increase than any faculty member will ever see in their career," Claus Ernst, a board member said. "I think the signal here is the wrong one."
"It's not an apples to apples comparison," George Nichols said. "There is no football coach, basketball coach anywhere in the county that has a tenure."
WKU's Director of Athletics, Todd Stewart, said the way the salary raise was presenting in the meeting was "enormously misleading."
"There's no new spending in 2020 versus 2019," Stewart said. "It's just a reallocation of the salary pool because of coaches leaving."
In the early parts of the football offseason, the Hilltoppers lost two assistants. Jimmy Lindsey and Garrett Chachere. Head coach Tyson Helton made the decision to reallocate the salaries of the two coaches among his current staff. New assistant coaches Kenny Baker and Ryan Aplin are making less than Lindsey and Chachere did. The money that was reallocated came from donors.
"It was just a reallocation of private money because there was a change in our coaching staff," Stewart said. "That happens every single year. And actually happens with every single program in the county."
The reallocating allowed WKU to play defensive coordinator Clayton White more, which played a major factor in White staying on Helton's staff. White had an opportunity to leave to join a power five program as well as a chance to join another group of 5 programs.
"We would've lost him if we didn't," Stewart said. "So to me that was a good use of funds by Tyson (Helton) to do that."
White's defense played a major factor in WKU's success in the 2019 season and will be returning 9 of 11 starters for 2020.
Currently, athletics make's up just four percent of WKU's budget.
"So anyone who thinks athletics is receiving a priority over academics in funding is simply ignoring the facts," Stewart said.
The facts are this, since 2012, WKU Athletics budget has seen $6 million in total reductions.
Out of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision Conferences, WKU is the only
school to be first in its league in championships while being in the bottom 25 percent of its league in the budget.
"You know we're 12th of the 14 members in Conference USA in the budget," Stewart said. "We succeed at a very high level with the support that's at the bottom of our peers in our conference."
Back in April, Stewart, Helton, and men's basketball coach Rick Stansbury took a 10 percent salary reduction. That reduction is still in effect.
"There is no new total spending, it was reallocation money. We're going to be part of the same reduction that the whole campus is part of," Stewart said.