UW President Ana Mari Cauce says it's "unquestionably time" for Cohen to get a salary bump.

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From her perch on upper campus, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce has been closely monitoring her favorite sports teams.

She is, of course, a fan of the Huskies athletic programs, and last fall she joined Chris Petersen on the Husky Stadium turf to hoist the Governor’s Trophy after the Huskies’ fifth consecutive Apple Cup victory over Washington State.

Cauce has been just as supportive of Jennifer Cohen, UW’s second-year athletic director who just might be the best bargain major college athletics. Cauce says she is, if you will, prepared to give Cohen a lift too.

According to a study from AthleticDirectorU.com, which reviewed finances of all 65 Power Five conference programs, Cohen “has the lowest annual guaranteed compensation relative to departmental expenses.”

According to the terms of Cohen’s five-year contract, which began June 1, 2016, she receives an annual base salary of $460,000, plus a $60,000 retention bonus every year on May 31. Expenses for the UW athletic department in fiscal-year 2016 (the year used in the study) were about $110 million.

Cauce, in an interview with The Seattle Times after the Huskies’ megadeal with Adidas was announced, said she has already had conversations about giving Cohen a new contract and a salary boost.

“There is no question (a raise is due), if you look at her salary compared to her peers,” Cauce said. “She came in somewhat less tested, and that made sense. But I think it’s unquestionably time to look at a correction.”

Cohen, 48, is the only female athletic director in the Pac-12 and one of four female athletic directors at the 65 Power Five conference programs.

“When she was hired there were questions about how tested she was, and could she do the hard stuff — quite frankly, questions that I think tend to be asked more about women than men,” Cauce said. “And I think that she’s really shown that she surrounds herself with great people. She’s built a really strong team. It’s obvious with the level of coaches but also it’s there in the business office she’s put together. I’ve just been very impressed.”

Cohen’s new salary, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions, could approach $700,000 annually. That would represent a 35-percent raise, but would still put her below the median salary (of roughly $755,000) for Pac-12 athletic directors.

Cohen, a Tacoma native and lifelong Husky fan, was named UW’s interim AD in January 2016 and appointed full-time to the position that spring. She’s wrapping up her second full year on the job, and in that time she has help dig the department’s budget out of a $7.6 million deficit in 2016 and steered it to a break-even point in 2017.

“Financial stability became priority number one for our department, and over the last couple years we’ve been grinding away,” Cohen told the UW Board of Regents last week. “We’ve made significant progress in these areas, in large part because of our amazing student-athletes, our incredible coaches and our fans and our donors.”

The department is projecting a surplus of almost $1.6 million for this fiscal year, and last week Cohen announced a windfall that stands to be a driving force in the department’s long-term outlook: the 10-year, $120 million apparel sponsorship with Adidas, one of the richest of its kind in college athletics. The deal is set to begin July 1, 2019.

With the Adidas deal in place, the athletic department is projecting a budget surplus of $5.65 million in fiscal-year 2020, with projected revenues just under $140 million and expenses of $117 million (plus a debt service of $16 million for Husky Stadium).

Cauce said she appreciates the regular updates and candidate conversations she has with Cohen on athletic department business.

“Sometimes surprises are inevitable, but you’d rather not be surprised,” Cauce said. “So she does call up and we have conversations and I love that. I really do feel that we’ve got someone who is not just looking at ICA (intercollegiate athletics) but looking at ICA in terms of the campus as a whole. … It’s just really, really lovely.”

At public universities; does not include bonuses

1. Dan Guerrero, UCLA: $1,083,779
2. Scott Barnes, Oregon State: $937,508
3. Rob Mullens, Oregon: $814,891
4. Ray Anderson, ASU: $800,000
5. Rick George, Colorado: $772,418
6. Chris Hill, Utah: $763,600
7. Patrick Chun, WSU: $675,000
8. Mike Williams, Cal: $609,000
9. Dave Heeke, Arizona: $575,000
10. Jennifer Cohen, UW: $520,000

Source: AthleticDirectorU.com via San Jose Mercury News