COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – When he takes over the reins in January, incoming Ohio State University President Walter “Ted” Carter will be one of the highest-paid administrators in the Big Ten.
Across the Olentangy River from thousands of students’ first day of classes on Tuesday, Ohio State’s board of trustees unanimously named Carter as the university’s 17th president. Carter, current president of the University of Nebraska System and former superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, called the Ohio State presidency the “greatest honor” of his career.
It will also be his best-paying job.
With a base salary weighing in $1.1 million, Carter boasts the second-highest base pay in the Big Ten’s current lineup of 14 universities. His numerous benefits, including a $250,000 one-time transition bonus, a $50,000 yearly fringe benefit allowance and up to a 30% annual performance bonus, mean each year he will rake in potentially hundreds of thousands more.
At Nebraska, Carter’s base salary is already in the upper echelon of the Big Ten. His most recent contract extension set his base pay at $962,000, or the fifth-highest presidential base pay in the conference.
The $1.1 million starting pay is also significantly higher than his predecessor’s; when Kristina M. Johnson was named president in 2020, her contract outlined a $900,000 base salary. That pay increased to $927,000 after her first year. Her total earnings, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s public college president database, topped $1.18 million.
Only the president of the University of Maryland is paid more than Carter will be – and just by a hair. Maryland President Jay Perman earns at least $1,135,190 a year, not including bonuses and benefits.
While the average base salary of Big Ten presidents hovers around $817,000, some, like the interim president of the University of Minnesota, are paid as little as $400,000. With Ohio State’s newest presidential contract inked, three Big Ten universities pay their presidents more than $1 million, not including bonuses and benefits.
Northwestern University’s previous president, Morton Schapiro, earned a little more than $1.02 million. The university has not publicly disclosed current President Michael Schill’s salary and did not respond to NBC4’s request for it.
The addition of four more universities to the athletic conference by 2025 will knock Carter – and Maryland – down a peg. Carol Folt, president of the University of Southern California, earns $1.32 million in base pay.
Carter’s base salary will also be one of the highest among public university presidents in the U.S., according to the Chronicle of Higher Education database. Leaders who out-earn him include the chancellor of the University of North Texas System, at nearly $1.37 million; the president at the University of Texas at Austin, with a $1.32 million base pay; and the president of the University of Houston, at $1.18 million.
Carter’s base salary — and the base salaries of other university presidents — pale in comparison to the take-home pay of Ohio State’s coaches. Ohio State football head coach Ryan Day’s regular pay in 2022 was $1.77 million; his total earnings topped $8 million. Assistant football coach Jim Knowles earned $1.9 million in regular pay and took home more than $2.1 million last year.