The hottest topic in collegiate sports these days is whether athletes should be paid on top of the scholarships they receive.

But what isn’t widely known is that the top-tier athletic directors are compensated for how their players perform. When Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith received a contract extension in January, it was revealed he gets a bonus every time the Buckeyes win a team national title but also more than $18,000 when an individual captures a national crown.

Specifically, Smith could make six weeks of extra salary for a team national title in football or men’s basketball and two weeks extra salary for other team titles. He also earns a week of bonus pay for an individual national title.

Wayne Luke, Managing Partner of Collegiate Athletics Leadership Practice of the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, said, “This is just one man’s opinion but, if you believe in the free market, and I guess I do, you pay what the market will bear. I don’t see a problem with it ethically.”

Luke thinks there is a strong connection between the AD and individuals winning at a high level. “Job 1 for an athletic director is to create a wholesome athletic environment. The winning and accomplishments of the program are directly related to what kind of coaches he (or she) hires, the facilities built and the developmental aspects he promotes. So the AD has a massive influence,” Luke said.

Luke estimates that there are 20 to 30 athletic directors who receive performance-based compensation and that it’s a trend that will continue to grow. “College presidents and trustees are much more comfortable tying pay to performance rather than giving a higher base salary,” explained Luke.

As far as whether it’s unfair to pay the ADs with extra money but not the athletes, Luke said, “I think they’re extremely well compensated already. They get $100,000 (in scholarship money). I don’t buy that these kids aren’t compensated well because they are.”

But consider this – if Connecticut Athletic Director Warde Manuel has a similar clause in his contract, it will be two big paydays today and tomorrow if his men’s and women’s basketball teams win national titles.