MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University will not publicly put a price tag on its next athletic director at this point in its search to replace Ken Godfrey.
However, a comparison of salaries for top administrators and coaches provided by the Upper Peninsula's three Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference universities shows Northern is willing to spend the money necessary to lure top-notch candidates.
Northern, with an athletic department budget of $3.5 million, is one of three universities in the U.P. - with Michigan Technological University in Houghton and Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie - that sponsors NCAA Division II athletic programs. All three compete in the GLIAC, though LSSU does not sponsor a football program.
NMU, MTU and LSSU also sponsor NCAA Division I hockey programs with the Wildcats and Lakers currently competing in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and the Huskies playing in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Come the 2013-14 season, NMU and LSSU will join Tech in the WCHA.
"At this point in the search, NMU would never put out a dollar figure for the position," said Cindy Paavola, NMU's director of communications and marketing. "However, the university will pay what is a reasonable rate compared to peer institutions within the GLIAC, CCHA and other universities that have an athletic department similar to our size and scope."
Via the Freedom of Information Act, The Mining Journal requested the salaries of the top administrators and coaches at the three Upper Peninsula universities that sponsor NCAA Division II athletics and NCAA Division I hockey programs - Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State. Below is how the three stack up.
Glenn Mroz, MTU, $290,405
Les Wong, NMU, $201,995
Tony McLain, LSSU, $150,000
Ken Godfrey, NMU, $112,826
Suzanne Sanregret, MTU, $110,00
Kris Dunbar, LSSU, $67,898
Note: Salary for Godfrey was his base 2011 salary before stepping down in January. Interim director Steve Reed receives a base salary of $58,618 as assistant athletic director of operations. He receives an additional $7,000 for athletic director duties.
Head hockey coach
Mel Pearson, MTU, $250,000
Walt Kyle, NMU, $138,159
Jim Roque, LSSU, $81,600
Head football coach
Chris Ostrowsky, NMU, $92,250
Tom Kearly, MTU, $85,334
Note: LSSU does not sponsor football
Head basketball coach
Kevin Luke, MTU, $103,178
Doug Lewis, NMU, $58,000
Steve Hettinga, LSSU, $49,078
Note: MTU head men's basketball coach Kevin Luke is also the university's associate athletic director.
The head hockey coaches of all three programs are the highest paid employees in their respective school's athletic department, led by first-year Huskies' coach Mel Pearson making $250,000 a year. The Wildcats' Walt Kyle, who is in his 10th season, makes $138,159, while LSSU's Jim Roque, who is in his seventh year, makes $81,600.
Former NMU athletic director Ken Godfrey had a base salary of $112,826 in 2011 before he stepped down in January. Due to his medical leave, Godfrey only collected $46,166.57 in 2011, according to NMU.
Godfrey was the highest paid athletic director in the U.P. with Tech's Suzanne Sanregret making $110,000 and LSSU's Kris Dunbar making $67,898, according to numbers provided via Freedom of Information Act requests.
NMU interim athletic director Steve Reed, who is also the school's assistant athletic director for operations, made a base salary of $58,618 as the assistant AD, plus an additional $7,000 for his duties as athletic director.
According to Paavola, who provided the numbers from NMU's human resources department, the final salary for the next athletic director will be based off of data triangulated from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources - in which NMU is listed as a Master's institution - the GLIAC and NCAA.
"Commensurate with experience means exactly that," Paavola said referencing the official job posting. "It's the standard approach to most university job searches that are not tied to an hourly wage position - at Northern and at the majority of universities across the nation.
"The Human Resources Office has national data on pay ranges for nearly every university position and that data includes scales for positions at schools comparable to NMU, as well as the value of experience. The more years of experience one has at the position being advertised, the higher they go on the pay scale."
The university received exactly 100 applicants for the open athletic director position prior to the Feb. 15 closing date. A search committee comprised of university and community officials is in the process of vetting the applicants.
The committee will narrow down the field to three or four finalists, who will be brought to campus and be made available through public forums.
The search committee will make its recommendation for a hire to NMU President Les Wong, who has the final say over the position.
The goal is to have a new athletic director in place in May.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.