May 28, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

List of Well-Paid State Employees Grows

ChangeIt seems that state government salaries grow faster than some athletes on steroids.

About a week after The Nerve reported on Sept. 12 that more than 2,100 state employees were earning six-figure salaries as of June 1, the S.C. Budget and Control Board released an updated state salary database.

And guess what? Even more state workers are earning at least $100,000 yearly, and the top-10 list changed as well.

As of Sept. 1, 2,359 state workers were earning $100,000 or more annually, according to the updated database. That’s an increase of 222 employees, or about 10.4 percent, from the June list.

The number of state employees earning at least $50,000 yearly grew to 16,807 from 15,614, a jump of nearly 1,200, or 7.6 percent.

As of June 1, the highest-paid person listed in the salary database was Doug Wojcik, the College of Charleston’s head basketball coach, who was earning $400,000.

By Sept. 1, two other university employees moved ahead of Wojcik on the list – Lisa Montgomery, an executive vice president at the Medical University of South Carolina ($405,303); and Jay Moskowitz, a health services policy professor at the University of South Carolina who also is president and CEO of Health Sciences South Carolina ($402,999).

Montgomery and Moskowitz make more annually than President Barack Obama, whose salary is $400,000 – the same as Wojcik’s.

Virtually all of the 218 individuals in the salary database earning at least $200,000 as of Sept. 1 were college or university employees, with the state’s big three research institutions – the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina dominating the list.

Montgomery wasn’t listed in the salary database as of June 1. Besides her title of executive vice president for finance and administration at MUSC, she also is the chief financial officer for the Medical University Hospital Authority, though she is described in the database only as an MUSC instructor.

“Ms. Montgomery may be listed on the site as an instructor, but she is much, much more than that,” Sarah King, MUSC‘s public relations director, said in an email to The Nerve. “Handling the financial operations of the university and the medical center places a tremendous responsibility on her, but she is more than equal to the task.”

King added that the Mercer Corporation recently did a report on compensation for MUSC’s vice presidents. Montgomery’s salary as of Feb.9 of this year was $382,000; the study found that the median salary for comparable positions was $558,000, so Montgomery’s salary was nearly $200,000 below the median.

“We think of Ms. Montgomery as a true bargain since we know she is more effective than all those comparables and truly dedicated,” King said.

The total number of higher-paid state employees likely is larger than what’s listed in the Budget and Control Board’s database because the BCB’s Office of Human Resources doesn’t oversee 18 agencies, including the Medical University Hospital Authority.

For example, Stuart Smith, the authority’s executive director, earns $453,407 annually, according to a salary database maintained by The State newspaper; while Lonnie Carter, president and CEO of the state-owned utility Santee Cooper, earned $429,406 in salary last year, The Nerve reported then.

As for the BCB salary database, USC’s head football coach, Steve Spurrier, moved down on the list from No. 8 as of June 1 to No. 9 as of Sept. 1, though his reported salary remained the same at $350,000.

That figure, however, doesn’t include other sources of income; The State newspaper in February reported that the USC Board of Trustees gave Spurrier a raise, boosting his guaranteed annual salary to $3.3 million.

Ray Tanner, the former USC baseball coach who became USC’s athletic director in July, is listed for the first time in the database with an annual salary of $375,000 – the sixth-highest on the list. His total salary is $675,000, ESPN says.

Following is a list of the top-10 highest earners in the BCB’s database as of Sept 1:

  • Lisa Montgomery, vice president for finance/administration MUSC – $405,313;
  • Jay Moskowitz, professor, USC; Health Sciences South Carolina president – $402,999;
  • Doug Wojcik, head basketball coach, College of Charleston – $400,000;
  • Durwood Bach, department chair, MUSC – $398,348;
  • Martin Morad, professor, USC – $384,911;
  • Ray Tanner, athletics director, USC – $375,000;
  • James Bottum, vice provost, Clemson – $366,113;
  • Prakash Nagarkatti, vice president, USC –  $357,980;
  • Steve Spurrier, head football coach, USC – $350,000; and
  • George Chandler, dean, USC – $323,459.

College and university officials have received raises amid tuition hikes at their schools.

For example, since the 2008-09 academic year, MUSC has raised its tuition by 22 percent for full-time, in-state undergraduate students, with Clemson and USC’s main Columbia campus hiking tuition 19.5 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively, during that period, according to the S.C. Commission on Higher Education’s website.

Most of those on the top-10 salary list received raises in the 2-to-3-percent-range between June 1 and Sept. 1, according to the BCB salary database. The General Assembly in this year’s legislative session gave state employees a 3 percent raise effective July 1.

Investigative reporter Rick Brundrett contributed to this story. Reach Legette at (803) 254-4411 or

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