Rutgers University formally welcomed Greg Schiano as the new football coach for the Scarlet Knights — the third person to hold the post since the university entered the Big Ten League in 2014.
Tuesday, the Rutgers board of governors unanimously approved Schiano’s eight-year contract, which clocks in at $32 million.
Schiano’s return to the Rutgers football team, which he left in 2012, was hailed as a new era for a struggling team that has seen few in-league wins and lackluster ticket sales.
Gov. Phil Murphy called Schiano’s return to the university a “new era of Rutgers football,” while Athletics Director Pat Hobbs called it the “next great chapter for Rutgers Football.”
“We need everybody’s help,” Schiano said at a press conference at the Hale Center on the Rutgers Piscataway campus Wednesday. “You have a job to do. We need everybody to galvanize…. You did something incredible but now you need to take it to the next level. We need to focus on that post and we need to chop away.”
Supporters of the deal argue the high pay is necessary to attract top talent that could turn around Rutgers’ dismal performance on the football field, and that Schiano’s $4 million a year salary would be on par with other Big Ten teams. University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh earns $7.5 million a year, Purdue University Coach Jeff Brohm earns $6.6 million a year and Penn State University coach James Franklin earns $5.7 million a year.
But opponents of Schiano’s hiring, and critics of the ways in which the university finances its athletic program – such as the Rutgers AAUP-AFT union – protested the lucrative terms of his employment at the university.
“Football coach to be paid $4 million + perks each year for 8 yrs!?” the union tweeted. “We never want to hear another dean, provost, chancellor or president tell us there’s not enough money for faculty and grads to be compensated fairly and for adjuncts to receive health care.”
Former Gov. Chris Christie weighed in on Schiano’s requests for air travel as part of the contract, slamming the demands. But Schiano said that he was not fazed by Christie’s comments.
“Christie and I, we go back a long way,” he said. “I take no offense. People are going to say things. I know he wants what’s best for New Jersey too, and we’ll be fine. Not a problem.”
Schiano is eligible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses under the contract. He will receive a $15,000 annual car stipend, $5,000 apparel allocation, country club membership, and private air travel or first-class accommodations for “recruiting purposes.”
Like with his predecessor’s Chris Ash and Kyle Flood, Schiano is guaranteed a certain amount of his remaining salary depending on when the university terminates his position, or when he quits the job.