The obvious answer to this question is a resounding "yes," but do the economics of college baseball dictate otherwise? Let's investigate.
The State recently reported that Ray Tanner currently gets paid $370,000 annually with an additional $110,000 tacked on from Easton, the Gamecocks' bat supplier. On top of that, Tanner earned an another $130,000 in bonuses as well. $40,000 of that is for making it to the College World Series, $50,000 for winning the National title, and another $40,000 from Easton. He could still earn an extra $25,000 if he is the consensus national coach of the year in voting by four organizations. All told, Tanner will haul in $610,000 in compensation this year with a chance at $635,000. Not bad by anyone's mearuring stick.
To put that gaudy number in perspective The Biz of Baseball reports that Texas coach Augie Garrido and Miami coach Jim Morris lead all college baseball coaches, earning $600,000 per year in base pay. Against those figures Ray Tanner's salary looks almost insulting. Consider, though, that Augie has been named national coach of the year five times, won the CWS five times, and has more wins than any Division I coach in college baseball history. For his part, Jim Morris already has 2 College World Series.
And while Ray Tanner certainly deserves a raise after bringing so much joy to so many fans, what is often overlooked is that USC's baseball program still mired in the red ink. The question becomes, "How much are you willing to pay a coach (even a great one) of a program that has never covered its expenses?" The Gamecock baseball program is currently listed as having $334,324 in annual operating expenses. If we add the cost of the new stadium to that (roughly $36M, paid for by bonds, over 50 years as a conservative estimate) that number jumps up to $1,054,324. And since our operating expense number is from 2009, we'll have to include Tanner's 2010 bonuses as well. Lastly, we have to figure in the all of the administrative and marketing costs that aren't factored into "operating" expenses (roughly $30M, of which I will conservatively allocate $1.5M to the baseball program). That brings our grand total up around $2.6M in expenses for 2010. Of that figure, Ray Tanner's salary is around 23%.
Now, I can't quote USC's baseball revenues because that information is not available to me, but I do remember an article from The State a while back that stated the net effect is a loss. Meanwhile, Steve Spurrier's annual take home of around $2.5M is roughly 12% of the football team's expenses - and that's from a team that turns enough of a profit to support the rest of the athletic department.
This all isn't to say that USC can't afford to give Tanner a raise. If Hyman can afford to pay Dawn Staley a guaranteed salary of $345,000, surely we can find a little cash in the coffers to bring our newly minted national title-winning coach up to at least that level. What I am saying, though, is people need to stop and think for a moment before they say things like "Ray Tanner deserves to be the highest paid coach in the country. Pay the man, Hyman" they need to think about the consequences. Tanner is a great guy, and character should factor into his salary in a positive way, but are you willing to cough up even more in the way of PSLs so that Ray Tanner can get what he deserves?
For my part I think Ray should get a raise. There is a huge difference between a coach that has won a College World Series and one that hasn't. For starters, we'll now have to pay more to keep other programs' grubby hands off of him. More than that, though, we should now be paying him for reaching the ultimate goal in his field and not just his potential. I mean, he did it. He won us a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, and he did it in the classiest way possible. A year ago I would have been staunchly against giving Tanner a raise. Things are different now, though. We're national champs. So pay the man, Hyman.