UW, WSU coaches state's top earners

By Jacques Von Lunen, Columbian staff writer

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Washington's five highest-paid state employees in 2011 took in a combined $6 million. And they did so while wearing sneakers.

According to information released by the state's Office of Financial Management, the football and basketball coaches for the state's two biggest universities made more money than any other state employee in 2011.

Many of the top earners on the state's payroll, all of them administrators, professors or coaches in universities, saw their pay go up or at least remain flat last year. Most of the lower-paid state employees saw their salaries reduced by 3 percent during budget cuts last year.

The OFM this week released the earnings of all state employees for 2010 and 2011, which include base salaries, overtime, bonuses and other additional compensation. The figures are not comparable to years before 2010 because the state published only base salaries prior to that year.

The coaches' salaries and other compensation are not paid out of the general fund or from students' fees and tuition, according to the OFM. The coaches -- and all other college athletic department employees -- are paid exclusively with money generated from ticket sales, television rights and donations.

The coaches are followed on the list by Elson Floyd, president of Washington State University, who made $625,000 last year, same as the year before. That's about $200,000 less than what his university's football coach took in last year.

Michael Young, the current UW president, ranks low in the list for 2011, because he started his job July 1, which means he was paid for only six months last year.

Gary Bruebaker, the chief investment officer for the State Investment Board, is the highest-paid state employee who doesn't work in higher education. He was paid $312,000 last year and came in a number 52 on the list.

Almost all of the top 1,000 earners on the list of more than 100,000 employees work for public universities and community colleges. A few dozen employees in the top 1,000 are medical professionals working for the corrections and health departments, and financial professionals working for the State Investment Board.

These positions need to paid at this level so the state can attract highly qualified employees, according to the OFM.

Gov. Chris Gregoire is at number 1,072 on the list. She was paid $164,391 last year, or about one-fifteenth of the payments made to Stephen Sarkisian, the UW football coach.

Jacques Von Lunen: 360-735-4515; jacques.vonlunen@columbian.com; http://www.twitter.com/col_schools.