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Lawmaker demands inquiry into huge contracts for Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, other coaches

Lawmaker demands inquiry into huge contracts for Michigan State's Mel Tucker, other coaches
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A senior House Democrat is expanding his investigation into whether compensation packages for college football coaches conflict with laws for tax-exempt organizations, and is seeking details about contracts from MSU and other universities.

Representative Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat who chairs the Ways and Means Committee’s oversight committee, sent letters to the heads of the two schools seeking information about an $89 million contract for Mario Cristóbal in Miami and a $95 million package for Mel Tucker of Michigan State University.

“Americans are rightly amazed by the massive series of contracts that taxpayer-supported schools have awarded to college athletic coaches,” Pascrell said in a statement Tuesday.

Pascrell said in separate letters to Miami and Michigan State University that coach wages are a “stark contrast” with student-athlete benefits. He also said he had concerns that contracts worth millions of dollars would conflict with the tax-exempt status and questioned whether these compensation packages benefit the educational mission of the school and its students.

Michigan State University terminated her contract with Tucker in late November. The undisclosed amount of the $95 million deal is being funded over 10 years by metro Detroit entrepreneur and Michigan State alumnus Matt Ischia of Pontiac-based mortgage lender United Wholesale Mortgage Corp. and Steve St. Andre of Birmingham-based marketing agency Shift Digital.

A Michigan State University spokesperson did not immediately respond to Crain’s request for comment on Wednesday regarding messages from Paskrill.

Last month, Pascrell asked officials at Louisiana State University and the University of Southern California for details on the salaries of their recently hired soccer coaches, Brian Kelly and Lincoln Riley.

Congress has sought to clamp down on high-paid athletic trainers in recent years, including a measure in former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law that would selectively tax five top-paid employees at a nonprofit who earn $1 million or more. in the year. This affects many elite college basketball and soccer coaches but also applies to all organizations that are exempt from taxation under Section 501 of the IRS Code.

However, the consumption tax of 21 percent does not apply to employees at many public colleges. These organizations can claim tax-exempt status as a unit of government, not as a Section 501 tax law institution. In high-profile programs, some of the football and basketball coaches’ compensation comes from marketing and broadcast deals.

Paskrill asked universities to answer his questions by February 14.

Detroit Business Reporter Nick Mance contributed to this report.

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