How Would Izzo Play A Raise?

Tom Izzo
Tom Izzo

He has spent the entire week talking about how great the run by his Spartans has been for the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan.

So how would Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, who makes $2.8 million a year, accept a raise should the school award him one?

Well, first of all, winning another championship doesn't guarantee Izzo anything. What guarantees raises more than anything else isn't performance, it's performance plus an elite job opening. And now that the Kentucky and the Arizona jobs are gone, Izzo doesn't have the leverage he would have had if his team bowed out at the Sweet 16.

But let's say Michigan State feels it's time to do Izzo right, five years after he signed his contract extension. Spinning it the right way is everything, as the school realized when they announced they were raising football season ticket prices in the state facing the worst of this country's economic troubles.

If I were Izzo and Michigan State, here's how I would do it.

First, I would make the number very clear up front. Don't let people have to find out. Hold a press conference. Say Tom Izzo is our coach for the next X years. Say that he'll be earning X in total compensation.

Then say that Izzo and Michigan State will make a commitment to give back to the state of Michigan. Announce a once-a-year free basketball camp for kids and a free one-day Michigan State basketball experience for adults. Also announce that the program will be giving away 20 tickets to each home basketball game in each year of Izzo's contract to families of laid off workers.

After MSU beat UConn on Saturday night, UConn head coach Jim Calhoun, of all people, said that Izzo earned his money. Calhoun, of course, still thinks he was chastized for this $1.6 million salary. He was not. He was grilled because of his reaction and lack of sensitivity when he fired back at the reporter who questioned his pay.

As corporate executives have come to learn in this environment, it sometimes has nothing to do with what you make and more to do with how much sympathy you have for what others are going through.

Izzo and Michigan State are smart enough to know that if you have some sensitivity and you give back, you can survive the public relations battle.

Questions? Comments?