June 12, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

Top State Earners Nearly All from Higher Education



The lopsidedness is striking

After more than a decade of nearly annual tuition hikes and complaints that the state is underfunding higher education, one might expect state-funded universities to keep their salaries under control. If a quick look at the state salary database is any indication, one would be wrong. The Nerve has revealed in past years that administrator pay tends to rise with tuition increases, but the lopsidedness of the salary database is striking even so: Of the top paid 250 state employees in South Carolina, all but 33 are university employees.

As of September 8, the highest paid state employee is the University of South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner at $537,187. This number does not reflect the total compensation package – it only reveals what the state pays. Universities also use foundations and revenue from other sources (such as money from athletics) to pay employees.

The next nine highest paid employees are:

  • William Muschamp, Athletics Coach – University of South Carolina, $500,000
  • Lonnie Carter, President and CEO – Santee Cooper, $486,272
  • Martin Morad, Professor – University of South Carolina, $405,368
  • Joan Gabel, Provost – University of South Carolina, $400,400
  • Jeffery Dillman, Athletics Coach – University of South Carolina, $400,000
  • Kurt Roper, Athletics Coach – University of South Carolina, $400,000
  • Travaris Robinson, Athletics Coach – University of South Carolina, $400,000
  • James Bottum, Vice Provost – Clemson University, $391,798
  • Lisa Montgomery, Vice President – Medical University of South Carolina, $388,011

The universities and colleges represented in the top 250 paid state employees are Clemson University (48 employees), Coastal Carolina (4 employees), Medical University of South Carolina (49 employees),

South Carolina State University (1 employee), University of Charleston (5 employees), University of South Carolina (109 employees). (Note: As of February 22, William Muschamp is making $1,100,000 and Ray Tanner $525,000,000. The reason for that shift is unclear.)

State employees other than university employees also benefit from high wages. According to The State’s state agency salary database, 8,135 workers make more than $80,000 and 4,185 employees make over $100,000.

View the database for yourself here.

Phillip Cease is director of research at the South Carolina Policy Council

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