Buzz’s Earnings at Marquette Peaked in 2010

Buzz’s Earnings at Marquette Peaked in 2010
May 21, 2014

BuzzVT[A]ccording to a source with direct knowledge of the deal, [Marquette] would have been paying him [Buzz Williams] in excess of $4 million within the next two seasons. That is football coach money at a school with a major commitment to being good at basketball. If all of that sounds weird, that’s because it is.” — Sports Illustrated

A week ago we walked through some specifics on the contract between Buzz Williams and Virginia Tech. The traditional media might continue to dream up a fact pattern that concludes Buzz Williams took a gigantic pay cut to get out of Milwaukee. Reality doesn’t support such a claim.

Just this month, Marquette filed their annual Form 990 for the year ended June 30, 2013. Late Night Hoops compared their reporting of Buzz Williams’ pay each year over the past several years. The trends illustrated in this article give rise to the possibility that pay might have been a source of frustration for Williams.

Buzz hasn’t explained publicly why he left Marquette. There are probably many factors – positive and negative – that played into the move. Maybe his words in 2010 tell the story: “I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me here.”

Williams did some great things at Marquette and his accomplishments will be appreciated and remembered for years to come. This article isn’t meant to criticize anyone, rather to offer some facts in light of some of the nonsense that gets written by the traditional media.

The following table illustrates Buzz’s pay for each of the last four years ended June 30, according to Marquette University federal tax filings:

Year Base Bonus/Incentive Other Total W-2 TBW LP Total
6/30/2010  813,144                1,987,203                   –    2,800,347  397,500  3,197,847
6/30/2011  1,001,125                      69,000                   –    1,070,125   631,250  1,701,375
6/30/2012  1,115,316                   738,125                   –    1,853,441 1,000,000  2,853,441
6/30/2013  1,600,279                   165,000          33,287    1,798,566   916,250  2,714,816

The rightmost column lists the total pay received by Williams in each year. In addition to total W-2 income (which is comprised mostly of base pay and incentives), there are payments that were made from Marquette to Team Buzz Williams, LP.

Buzz’s limited partnership provides an avenue to recognize money earned from outside sources (other than his employer). Based on our understanding of his agreement with Virginia Tech, this company will have more upside with the Hokies than it did with MU because of the freedom he has to drum up other business and receive payments directly from third-parties other than Virginia Tech.

In 2010, Marquette provided Williams with a one-time bonus. Two seasons into the job and Buzz had taken the program to the NCAA tournament both years. At that time, Buzz made the comment that, “I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me here.” All payments included, Buzz made $3.20 million in 2009-10.

The following year his base pay was increased and more was paid out to the LP. Still, total pay was down substantially (to $1.70 million). The season that fell into this time period was Marquette’s first run to the Sweet 16 under Buzz.

The next year, MU would reach the Sweet 16 again and Buzz’s pay rose to $2.85 million. Excluding bonuses, that amount would have been around $2.1 million, but performance was rewarded.

Finally, we have the data just disclosed in the May 2014 tax filings. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013 – a year in which Marquette reached the Elite Eight but also a year during which there were some “issues” associated with the basketball program – a base pay increase after the 2012 season was more than offset by a reduction in bonus pay.

Buzz earned $2.71 million in 2012-13, lower than two of the previous three years.

The numbers reported are what we know. The rest of the story can be debated. Maybe, just maybe, the story was clearly told by Buzz.

“I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me here.”

@LateNightHoops is on Twitter.

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