Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor
Header image: collegeconsensus.com
La Salle’s highest-paid employee doesn’t even work here anymore. In the spring of 2018, La Salle fired Dr. John Giannini, the former head coach of the men’s basketball team. Still, thanks to the fine print in his contract, La Salle has been paying his salary each year since his dismissal. According to the university’s IRS 990 form from 2020, he was paid at least $603,217, not including “other compensation.”
And on Jan. 7 of this year, La Salle charged a late fee to my account, clocking in at $150. And, of course, they had to charge me interest on that late fee, to the tune of $10.88. Fast forward to Feb. 7 — I was charged yet another late fee (+ interest). Dear La Salle: if I wasn’t able to make the base payment without any late fees back in January, what makes you think I’m suddenly in the financial position to shell out an additional (and I believe arbitrarily-determined) $321.76?
For brevity and simplicity, let’s round that out to $300. $300 in my pocket goes toward groceries and bills and occasionally funding my small business. But my two main concerns as a college student right now are food and shelter. And La Salle’s biggest expense is… paying someone they fired four years ago? It doesn’t match up.
At this point, perhaps you’re thinking, “Liz, do you have a job?” Yes, I did, in admissions. And then the university laid me off at the start of my senior year. Something about “not having it in the budget.” I’m glad Giannini is in the budget, though! Especially given La Salle’s dwindling admissions numbers, it is of the utmost importance that we lay off our student recruiters, right? Wrong. It’s no secret that La Salle is struggling, from both a financial perspective as well as an admissions perspective. So this is my question to the university: how do you justify laying off your budget workers — all of whom are very effective recruiters — while still wasting money elsewhere? I’m not a lawyer, I can’t pretend that I know the terms of Giannini’s contract — but has the university even explored getting out of it somehow? Or, did the university maybe consider not firing him back in 2018…at least get some labor out of him if you’re going to have to pay him regardless? Or was the performance of the basketball team the most important criteria in their decision-making?
I don’t know how the university makes its decisions, but I can say that after nearly four years here, I do know that they prioritize two key areas: its men’s basketball team and its business school. Everything else, I’ve learned, isn’t nearly as important as those two stalwarts. This isn’t an article interested in slandering the business school. Given the high job placement rates that come out of Founders’ Hall, La Salle is getting a really high return on investment on that front. My qualms lie with the team whose record is 40-65 (.381) since coach Ashley Howard was brought on.
My motivation for writing this article didn’t grow out of my personal, unique frustration with the university’s financial decisions; it grew out of the collective. All of my peers are beyond frustrated with the manners in which La Salle goes about squeezing money out of its students, only to turn around and spend it in foolish ways. If the basketball program was better, maybe this would be a different article, or maybe it wouldn’t even be written at all.
But, the fact of the matter is this: Giannini gets $600k while La Salle’s own students struggle to make ends meet. A man who hasn’t worked here for four years gets a yearly salary while student workers get laid off. La Salle’s admission numbers continue to drop to alarmingly low levels while the university focuses its efforts on a team with a bad record. Perhaps the worst part? My peers reading this article lose more and more faith each day in their university to make sound financial decisions. I love La Salle; I always have and always will. But allowing students to lose confidence in the very institution to which they entrust not only their education but also the trajectories of their careers is bad policy. And it doesn’t take a finance major to know that paying Giannini without receiving any services from him is bad practice; it’s bad for the financial statements and even worse for student morale.
Luckily, Financial Aid was able to waive one of my two late fees. I’m still trying to come up with the extra $160 that would otherwise go toward PECO, PGW or rent. I’ll figure it out. I just hope La Salle does, too.
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