Report shows coaches of men’s teams at Dartmouth earn more than women’s coaches 

  • Adrienne Shibles coaches Bowdoin's women's basketball team in Feb. 2016. Shibles has been chosen to lead Dartmouth's women's hoops team. (Bowdoin Athletics photograph) Bowdoin Athletics photograph

  • Peter Roby

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/31/2021 8:56:16 PM
Modified: 5/31/2021 8:56:13 PM

HANOVER — Head coaches of men’s sports at Dartmouth College earned nearly $40,000 more on average than those of women’s sports last year, according to an annual federal report that requires colleges and universities to make public gender equity information about their athletic programs.

The average annual salary for the head coaches of Dartmouth’s 14 men’s sports was $133,033 in the reporting year ending June 30, 2020. Head coaches of Dartmouth’s 17 women’s teams made an average of $93,609. The numbers are based on dollars per full-time equivalent as reported by Dartmouth.

Dartmouth’s assistant coaches for women’s teams also lagged far behind their counterparts on men’s teams, the report showed. On average, men’s assistant coaches were paid $68,906 compared to $49,293 for women’s assistant coaches.

Interim Athletic Director Peter Roby, who was appointed in February, said in a recent interview that the salary disparities are a focal point of a gender equity review of the college’s athletic department now underway.

“We need to see where things have to be changed and where we need to be more thoughtful about compensation,” said Roby, a 1979 Dartmouth graduate who played on the school’s basketball team and later coached at Harvard University before becoming athletic director at Northeastern University. “I want to make sure we’re closing those gaps where we can and where the budget will allow.”

Holland & Knight, a national law firm that specializes in Title IX compliance, is conducting the review. Title IX, which Congress enacted in 1972, prohibits federally funded educational institutions from discriminating against students and employees based on sex.

Another federal law known as the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, which was passed in 1994, hasn’t garnered as much attention over the years as Title IX legislation, but it still provides a glimpse into the inner workings of individual college athletic departments. The law requires schools to break down the number of student-athletes, coaches and operating expenses for each men’s and women’s sport. (The information can be found at http://ope.ed.gov/athletics).

The salary disparities found at Dartmouth are not unusual for the Ivy League, according to numbers from 2019. At Harvard, for instance, head coaches of men’s teams similarly earned nearly $40,000 more than those of women’s teams. The widest gap in the Ivy League was at Columbia, where the difference stood at $81,941 in 2019-20.

But Dartmouth’s athletics department has faced serious scrutiny since the college announced last July that it planned to immediately eliminate five varsity programs — men’s lightweight crew, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s swimming and diving — to save money and also reduce the number of spots allotted to athletics in incoming classes.

Alumni from all five programs expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision, but it wasn’t until the college learned about a possible class-action sex discrimination lawsuit that it started to rethink its decision. In December, California-based lawyer Arthur H. Bryant, hired by members of the women’s golf team and swimming and diving program, sent a letter to Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon, arguing that cutting women’s sports put the college out of compliance with Title IX. Bryant threatened legal action if Dartmouth didn’t bring back the programs.

On Jan. 29, six weeks after receiving Bryant’s letter, Dartmouth announced that all five varsity programs were being reinstated. The college also had to reimburse Bryant’s law firm for more than $100,000 in legal fees as part of a settlement agreement. In addition, it was announced that the Ivy League would begin an NCAA compliance review of Dartmouth athletics. Findings have not been released.

Adrienne Shibles said she was well aware of the salary disparities when she accepted the job as head coach of the Dartmouth women’s basketball team in early May. “I mean, if you’re a woman in this business, you’re cognizant of it,” said Shibles, who coached Division III Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, for 13 years before moving up to Division I Dartmouth.

Also in May, six female coaches at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging that they were paid significantly less than the school’s male coaches. In the complaint, Colby’s female coaches say that they were told male coaches had “higher market value.”

At Dartmouth, nine of the head coaching positions of women’s teams, over half, were held by men in 2020. It bolsters the argument that the difference in pay can be chalked up to the gender of the team, not the gender of the coach. In other words, Dartmouth, like many schools, places more value on men’s sports than women’s. (None of the head coaches of men’s teams were women.)

The federal Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act doesn’t require schools to release the salaries of individual coaches. Dartmouth declined a Valley News request for the salary information. Like many states, New Hampshire requires public institutions to make public individual coaches’ salaries.

At the University of New Hampshire, the head coach of the men’s basketball team, Bill Herrion, earned a base salary of $185,000 in 2020. The head coach of the women’s basketball team, Kelsey Hogan, was paid $61,200.

The average salary disparity between men’s and women’s coaches can be skewed by football, the most prominent sport at many schools.

As of June 30, 2020, UNH head football coach Sean McDonnell was earning an annual base salary of $290,000, putting him among the top five highest-paid UNH employees.

At Dartmouth, the disparity extends beyond coaches’ pay. Under the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, schools must report team operating expenses, which includes such things as travel, lodging, meals, uniforms, equipment and officials.

Dartmouth reported operating expenses for the men’s basketball program at $376,406 while women’s basketball came in at $261,522. The men’s ice hockey program racked up $374,458 in operating expenses compared to $211,974 for women’s hockey. 

A note on the form indicates that travel expenses for the men’s teams, as well as equipment for men’s hockey, may be factors. (Dartmouth officials declined to explain the note in greater detail.)

Under Title IX, schools don’t have to spend an equal amount of money on men and women’s sports, but they are required to ensure that “male and female student-athletes must receive equitable ‘treatment’ and ‘benefits’ ” and that the same amount of money be spent in scholarships as is proportional to participation, according to the NCAA.

The difference in spending also trickled down to recruiting budgets. Of the total $813,076 that Dartmouth spent on recruiting, $480,145 (59%) went to men’s teams and $332,931 (41%) was devoted to women’s teams.

Jennifer Costa, a member of the Dartmouth women’s ice hockey team, said she is frustrated by this persistent discrepancy between her team’s budget and that of her male counterparts.

“As a female student-athlete, I feel especially disheartened since we have the exact same schedule as them in terms of practices, games, lifts, and conditioning,” Costa said.

Citing research that found men’s sports are not only covered more often on ESPN, but covered with more excitement, Dartmouth Associate Professor of Sociology Janice McCabe said that this is a problem bigger than Dartmouth itself.

“It’s a chicken and egg kind of thing,” McCabe said. “How can you change people’s interest in sports? It starts with more equal coverage, both in terms of quantity and quality.”

Helaina Sacco is a former assistant swimming coach at Dartmouth who was among those who lost their job after the July 2020 team cuts. She went on to become the head coach of women’s swimming at Division III Colby-Sawyer College in New London. Sacco said her starting salary at Dartmouth in 2018 was $36,000, making her one of the lowest-paid assistant coaches in the Ivy League.

“Dartmouth is an excellent institution in many respects, and it’s disappointing that Dartmouth has not done more to close the gender pay gap,” Sacco said. “It comes down to institutional values.”

Sacco agrees that tenure and team success should play a role in coaches’ pay. But noting that there are only a handful of collegiate programs in the country that actually make money, Sacco said it doesn’t make sense to value someone directly proportional to the amount of revenue they bring in.

In fact, Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act data indicates that when revenue generated from football and basketball is taken out of the equation,women’s sports actually make more money than men’s sports at Dartmouth.

Sacco is hopeful that at least some change will result from the Title IX review and new leadership under Roby, who has agreed to stay on until June 2022.

“If you have people in place who are committed to making change, there is opportunity to do so,” Sacco said.

Frances Mize can be reached at fmize@vnews.com. Valley News sports writer Seth Tow  con tributed to this report.




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