On multiple occasions, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville had two publicly-funded universities pay thousands of dollars in membership fees for elite private golf and country clubs, despite the fact that he was already an established multi-millionaire.
From 2010 to 2012, Tuberville coached at Texas Tech University, and was contracted to earn an eye-popping $11 million over 5 years. Likely at Tuberville’s request, Texas Tech agreed to pay membership fees and dues for Tuberville to join an on-campus golf course and at nearby private country club of Tuberville’s choosing, likely the Lubbock Country Club, which could have cost the university an additional tens of thousands of dollars. Throughout the 1970s, Lubbock Country Club was infamously known for institutionally discriminating against women and minorities.
Tuberville later worked at the University of Cincinnati (UC) from 2012 to 2016, where he won an even larger contract: $14.2 million over 6 years. In Tuberville’s coaching contract, UC agreed in the fine print to bankroll Tuberville’s golfing habit, which resulted in the university paying the $56,000 in membership fees for the Coldstream Country Club.
Public universities, such as Texas Tech and the University of Cincinnati are primarily funded by taxpayers and are increasingly drawing their funding from rising tuition and fees paid by students, which often forces students to carry considerable student loan debt well after their graduation date. Because Tuberville was coaching at publicly-funded universities, his mammoth salary — and the golfing fees — were likely bankrolled by many of these students who are still drowning in student loan debt. After Tuberville exited his contract early at the University of Cincinnati, the athletic department’s deficit increased by 23% and the university primarily used student tuition to pay down that debt.
Tuberville has likened coaching football to politics, saying that in both roles you, “meet people and… you get to play golf.” Traditionally, college football coaches are hired to win games and politicians are elected to pass legislation, and both roles in no way involve playing golf.
Tuberville is on the ballot against incumbent Senator Doug Jones in November.