Harvard Will Adjust Coaches’ Pay, Per State Law—Updated
In an email sent to coaches this morning, Harvard Athletics acknowledged an inequitable disparity between salaries for men and women—essentially, that some women coaches have been underpaid—and announced a series of “adjustments” to rectify the imbalance.
[Editor’s note, June 21, 2018, 12:45 p.m. The News Office has pointed out that the adjustments are a response not only to Massachusetts’s updated equal pay law (MEPA), but also a year-long assessment of athletic program culture launched after revelations in 2016 that players for the women’s soccer team had been the subject of sexually explicit messages among men’s team players. The salary adjustments are structured according to the pay rates for men’s and women’s teams, rather than on a more individual basis; accordingly the changes include raising some men’s salaries, in addition to some women’s. The language in our June 14 report pertaining to “Harvard Athletics acknowledging an inequitable disparity” on the basis of the law and stating that women coaches only are affected by imbalanced compensation is a misinterpretation, which we regret. The letter emailed to coaches last week from Athletic Director Bob Scalise is printed in its entirety below. As originally reported, Scalise is not available to comment on the specifics; nor are aggregate, anonymous data on the number of coaches affected, their genders, or the size of salary adjustments being made public.]
The announcement comes as the Massachusetts Act to Establish Pay Equity (MEPA) is set to take effect on July 1. Building on a 1945 state law mandating equal pay, MEPA is intended to clarify what constitutes illegal wage discrimination and to add protections for workplace fairness. In Massachusetts, on average, women working full time make only 84.3 percent of what men earn. A similar wage gap persists among Harvard coaches. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, during the 2016-17 school year, the average salary for men’s team head coaches was $116,793; for women’s teams, it was $81,814. Assistant coaches for men’s teams earned an average of $55,459, while women’s team assistants earned $39,934. Gender at least somewhat underlies those differences: no women served as head coaches for men’s teams, and only five women were assistants on men’s teams. Half the head coaches of women’s teams were men, and men made up 24 of 49 assistant coaches on women’s teams.
In addition, 12 men’s team coaching positions are endowed, as are another six positions for individuals who serve as coaches for both men’s and women’s squads. Among women’s teams, there are five endowed coaching positions. (MEPA permits differences in pay based on seniority, merit, revenue, education, and experience, among other factors).
The email, signed by athletics director Bob Scalise, did not specify how many salaries would need to be adjusted, and athletics officials declined to give those numbers for the record. Scalise was not available for comment. The letter did specify, though, that no salaries would be lowered.
Prompted by MEPA, the University spent nearly a year reviewing its “compensation framework” for coaching staff. After six months of research and analysis, the athletics department held a series of focus groups this past winter and invited coaches to discuss which factors to consider in reshaping its compensation model. The result, according to the email, is a model built on three factors:
- Coaching level (head coach, assistant coach, etc.)
- Program size, scope, responsibility, and complexity, including athlete-to-coach ratio, recruiting complexity, alumni giving participation rates, and revenue generation
“Applying this model, we conducted a careful and thorough review of all coaching and coaching staff compensation in the context of non-gendered market data for each sport,” Scalise wrote in the message. The pay adjustments will be made in two phases, because of the current “fiscally constrained environment”: the first set of adjustments will be made July 1, and a second set during the second half of the 2018-19 academic year.
In addition, Scalise wrote, all coaches with a satisfactory job performance rating are eligible for a 2.5 percent merit raise.
Text of memorandum to Harvard Athletics personnel [posted June 21, 2018]:
As you know, the Massachusetts Act To Establish Pay Equity (MEPA) goes into effect on July 1, 2018. With new guidance provided by the Attorney General of the Commonwealth’s office, Athletics has been working with our compensation colleagues in FAS Human Resources, University Institutional Research, and the Office of the General Counsel to ensure we have an equitable and sustainable model for coaches’ compensation that supports our goals for recruiting and retaining strong coaching talent. Today, I am pleased to share details of our approach to coach compensation going forward.
First, I’d like to provide more context for our recent efforts, including the goals and the timing of MEPA. Much like the federal Equal Pay Act (EPA), which has been effect since 1963, MEPA calls for employers to provide equal compensation to employees, regardless of gender, who perform comparable work in jobs that require substantially similar skill, effort, and responsibility, and that are performed under substantially similar working conditions, unless a justification for the pay differential exists. Under MEPA, pay differential can be justified by, among other things, (i) a seniority system, (ii) a merit system, (iii) a system that measures revenue as well as the quality and quantity of production, (iv) education, training, or experience, and (v) travel.
It is within this context, and in accordance with our overall commitment to equity in the workplace, that we have spent nearly a year reviewing and restructuring our compensation framework for coaching staff. During the first six months, we worked to better understand the implications of the new legislation, reviewed our existing compensation practices, and gathered and analyzed relevant compensation data in an effort to construct a viable compensation model that meets MEPA requirements and attracts and retains strong coaching talent. With this work as our foundation, last winter we invited all coaches to participate in a series of focus groups to discuss important factors to consider in building an equitable and supportable approach to compensation. Your input has greatly informed our work.
Informed by the coach focus group discussions, we used the following factors to develop our new compensation model:
- Coaching level (e.g., head coach versus assistant coach)
- Program size, scope, responsibility, and complexity, including:
- Athlete-to-coach ratio;
- Recruiting complexity;
- Alumni giving participation rates;
- Revenue generation; and
Applying this model, we conducted a careful and thorough review of all coaching and coaching staff compensation in the context of non-gendered market data for each sport. While the salaries for a majority of coaches were found to be appropriate at current levels, the new model indicates that some salary adjustments are warranted. Please note that no salaries will be lowered.
While we acknowledge that making these adjustments is important, we continue to operate in a fiscally constrained environment and are not able to fund the full amount in the current budget. Given this, we need to make these salary adjustments in a two-phased approach, with the goal of providing all salary adjustments by the end of this coming academic year.
Phase 1 adjustments will be made as of July 1, 2018. In the second half of the upcoming academic year, we will be addressing adjustments for Phase 2.
Tomorrow, any coach whose compensation will be adjusted will receive an email, including whether they are designated in Phase 1 or Phase 2. Those whose compensation will be adjusted in Phase 1 will also be contacted to set up a time to meet with Kathy Santoro FAS Director of HR Programs and Operations and Mark Seibring, FAS Director of Analytics and Compensation.
If you are slated to receive an adjustment in Phase 2, you will be contacted once again in early January 2019 to schedule a meeting to discuss your planned adjustment.…
In addition to any adjustment, all coaching staff with satisfactory job performance will be eligible to receive a 2.5 percent merit increase.
Looking to the future, we will revisit this newly developed model annually, as encouraged under MEPA, and may make additional adjustments, as appropriate.…
Thank you for your engagement during this process.