Some Maryland state workers crack million-dollar compensation mark

Looking for the highest-paid state employees? You'll find them in University of Maryland locker rooms in College Park and at its medical school in Baltimore.

Men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon has the top spot for the 2014 calendar year, with a $2.2 million gross earnings package, according to an analysis of 111,373 state worker salaries obtained by The Baltimore Sun in a Public Information Act request. Rounding out the top five are two other coaches and two doctors.


As in past years, coaches at the University of Maryland, College Park lead the list. Brenda Frese, who is guiding the women's basketball team in the Final Four, saw her gross earnings move past the $1 million mark for the first time. But that still leaves her behind Turgeon and football coach Randy Edsall, whose gross earnings totaled about $2.1 million.

That $1 million mark is nonetheless an "important threshold," said Ryan Seebruck, a doctoral candidate in the School of Sociology at the University of Arizona who researches inequality in coaching labor markets.


"Although a salary of $1 million is only about one-sixth of what the top-paid head [coaches] in men's college basketball make," Seebruck said in an email, "it's not too far off from the median salary for men's NCAA Division I head coaches ($1,201,000 in 2013, compared to a median salary of $374,000 for NCAA D-1 women's basketball head coaches)."

Every year that The Sun has done such an analysis, university system officials have noted that state-funded salaries are only a portion of coaches' "gross" or total earnings — what system spokesman Mike Lurie calls a "multilayered approach," with external sources of income that are not directly paid for by taxpayers.

A university athletics spokesman said Turgeon and Edsall were paid less than $500,000 in state funds, with the rest coming from other sources. Salaries for all three coaches included cost-of-living adjustments this year, according to a university spokesman.

External sources of compensation for coaches can include events such as high school basketball camps, endorsement deals and speaking engagements, Lurie said.


The other two members of the top-five list, Drs. Stephen Bartlett and Bartley Griffith, are surgeons and professors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Lurie said there are similarly varied sources of external compensation for doctors, though it can be difficult to pinpoint the sources.

"One of the challenges we've had with the comptroller's office is that they don't break out the specific sources of compensation," Lurie said, adding that many physicians working with the medical school make about two-thirds of their overall compensation from private sources.

The most common source of external income is Faculty Physicians Inc., an entity created in 1983 through the Medical Service Plan, according to medical school spokesman David Kohn.

"All full-time faculty of the School of Medicine are required to conduct their patient care practices only through the Medical Services Plan and are not allowed to engage with other private practices," Kohn said in an email.

Bartlett, a transplant surgeon, said his salary was supplemented by clinical patient care, a Department of Defense grant and his role as senior vice president and system surgeon in chief for a large number of hospitals in the University of Maryland Medical System. None of the other coaches or doctors in the top five responded to requests for direct comment.

The Sun's analysis also showed that Maryland paid $22 million more in overtime during 2014 than in the previous year – a 16.5 percent increase. But the state more than made up for that expense by lowering its overall wage payout.

The state paid $5.097 billion in regular and overtime wages to employees in 2014, down from $5.152 billion the previous year.

While it may be tempting to think that recent buyout offers for state workers could continue the trend of increasing overtime, a state official says that's unlikely to be the case.

"The state carefully developed the list of 'eligible' employees to ensure that the buyouts would not result in an increase in overtime," Cindy Kollner, executive director of the state Department of Budget and Management's office of personnel services and benefits, said in an email. "Specifically, employees in 24/7 facilities were excluded from eligibility."

Kollner said department heads are looking at ways to keep overtime down.

One of the employee departures highlighted by the new compensation data is the move of Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez to NYU Langone Medical Center just before the 2014 calendar year started. Rodriguez, a surgeon known for his role in groundbreaking face-transplant work, had $484,974 in gross compensation for his last full year, in 2013. Kohn emphasized that the face transplant was a team effort that included Bartlett, Dr. Rolf Barth and others.

Another notable absence from the 2014 data was Joseph Urgo the former St. Mary's College of Maryland president who made $501,225 in 2013.

One upcoming high-profile departure is that of William E. Kirwan, who is leaving his position as chancellor of the University of Maryland System on June 30. In 2014, Kirwan had gross earnings of just under $563,000. His planned successor Robert Caret, will make $600,000 per year, according to news reports. Caret is currently president of the University of Massachusetts System.



Compare details of taxpayer-funded salaries and external earnings for state workers:

View some of the data used by researcher Ryan Seebruck:

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