URI men’s basketball coach, president are top state earners again

Updated at 1:57 p.m.

PROVIDENCE – The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball coach and school president are again the top two earners among state employees, according to 2022 state payroll data.

Rounding out the top 10 are four more URI employees and two each from the R.I Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals and the R.I. Department of Corrections, according to data from the R.I. Department of Administration.

The payroll data as of Dec. 21 does not include the final pay period of the calendar year, so total earnings for some state workers will be higher, according to Laura Hart, a DOA spokeswoman.

Ryan “Archie” Miller, hired as URI’s men’s basketball coach in March, was the highest paid state employee, receiving $796,615. Nearly half of Miller’s earnings – $375,000 – was in the form of “other” payments, including fees for his appearance and participation in athletic events and functions, according to Dawn Bergantino, a university spokesperson. Miller also received a $284,615 salary and $135,000 in gate receipts from home games, which is classified as “overtime.”

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It is “extremely common” for Division I football and basketball coaches to be the top paid state employees nationwide, Bergantino said in an emailed statement. 

Bergantino said Miller’s salary was “in line” with other Atlantic 10 Conference coaches. 

Miller’s predecessor, David M. Cox, was the highest paid state employee last year, earning $715,188, PBN previously reported.

URI President Marc B. Parlange was the next-highest paid, earning $480,769, entirely in base salary. Parlange was named president in 2021. 

URI’s women’s basketball coach, Tammi Reiss, was also one of the highest paid state employees, coming in fourth at $380,654.

“In a short period of time, Coach Reiss has elevated URI’s women’s basketball program to one of the best in the Atlantic 10 and a top 80 program nationally,” Bergantino said. “She has received considerable interest from other institutions. Her contract reflects that success and our desire to retain her.”

Speaking to the university’s payments to staff and faculty more broadly, Bergantino also cited “intense” competition from a competitive global marketplace.

Other top earners are:

  • Dr. Purvi Chokshi, a state BHDDH physician, was paid $450,604, including $207,594 in overtime pay, $9,924 in longevity pay and $37,483 in other pay. Chokshi was ranked third on the list, the same as in 2021, although last year she was paid about $90,000 less overall.
  • Donald DeHayes, a former provost and vice president for academic affairs, earned $345,291, making him the fifth-highest earner. More than $105,461 of DeHayes’ pay was classified as “other” pay. Although DeHayes retired from his provost job in March, he stayed on staff as a special adviser to the president through September, according to Bergantino.
  • URI Director of Athletics Thorr D. Bjorn was sixth, earning $334,108, including $23,000 in overtime pay.
  • URI Vice President for Research and Economic Development Peter J. Snyder was paid $331,442, which put him in the seventh spot.
  • Corrections officer Mark Wilbur came in eighth at $312,750. Wilbur’s earnings included $229,412 in overtime pay, the highest overtime amount among any of the top 100-paid state employees.
  • Another BHDDH physician, Dr. Andrew Lekos, earned $309,962, including $79,447 in overtime to supplement his base salary.
  • Corrections officer Anthony Lucca rounded out the top 10 with $303,210, including $196,399 in overtime pay, a $1,677 incentive payment and $23,495 in “other,” pay.

DeHayes, Bjorn and Wilbur were also among the top-10 highest paid state employees in 2021.

Randal Edgar, a spokesperson for BHDDH, said in an emailed statement that Chokshi’s and Lekos’ overtime pay “reflects the continuing shortage of health care workers.” Both physicians also were paid for on-call shifts which “must be filled to assure a doctor is present 24-7,” according to Edgar.

J.R. Ventura, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said in an email that the overtime work was “necessary to fill posts and keep people safe.” Ventura also said the department was “aggressively recruiting” for more full-time correctional officers to reduce the need for overtime.

Gov. Daniel J. McKee did not crack the top-100 highest-paid list. He was paid $145,755.

(SUBS penultimate paragraph with Department of Corrections comment.)

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.