Capitol & State

Who is Idaho’s top paid state employee?

The latest look at state employees’ salaries on the Transparent Idaho website shows that Boise State University football head coach Bryan Harsin remains the top paid state worker, at $1.1. million, followed by basketball head coach Leon Rice, at $650,000. Idaho’s university presidents follow, with BSU president Bob Kustra near $386,000, Idaho State University President Arthur Vailas just over $371,000, and University of Idaho President Chuck Staben at $364,000.

That’s pretty much par for the course in the United States. A 2013 survey by the website Deadspin found that football and basketball coaches were the highest-paid state employees in 40 states. The rest were university executives.

A 2014 update showed more football and fewer basketball coaches in the top ranks, but combined, coaches were still tops in 40 states. In the 2014 ranking, Harsin came in at 35th, at just over $1 million. Alabama football head coach Nick Saban made more than $7 million that year.

In the case of coaches, as Deadspin points out, salaries are typically paid from athletics revenues, such as ticket sales. Boise State’s coaches are paid that way and with donations.

In all, 342 employees earn more than Gov. Butch Otter, whose salary is $122,597. That’s a slight uptick from the start of the year. In this survey from last year, Otter earned just less than $122,000 and ranked 35th among governors.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD