Curtis noted that even though the compensation figures in the top 10 are at the "extreme high end" of the scale "I think generally it's not a positive development."
And, he said, numbers like these can be very misleading for the public who may think salaries more than $1 million are the norm for such professors. But most make just a fraction of that, he said, noting that some Ph.Ds bring in less than $50,000.
"That wide range gives a sense that some kind of knowledge is more valuable than others," Curtis said.
The AAUP routinely compiles its own studies of salaries and compensation. In 2006-07, the same year the Chronicle's report is based on, the average salary for a faculty member at a private, independent college was $84,249. That figure dipped to $66,118 for private, religious colleges.
Carroll's No. 1 ranking on the Chronicle's list may raise eyebrows for its place atop a long list of esteemed doctors and researchers, but coaches and other sports administrators have long been near the top of many college and university payrolls.
Selingo noted that the biggest sports programs -- many of which are led by people with much higher salaries than Carroll's – are at public universities, which are not included in the Chronicle's report.
Carroll's management firm, Premier Sports & Entertainment, had no comment on his ranking or compensation and said Carroll would not be available for comment. A spokesman for USC said t was the university's policy not to comment on individual employee compensation.
Because sports programs rake in millions and millions for universities it behooves them to invest in the top personnel, Curtis noted.
According to Carroll's Web site, USC, under his coaching, was the first team to have three Heisman trophy winners in a four-year span. His teams won the national championship in 2003 and shared the championship title in 2004.
But so much focus on sports at institutions devoted to learning and research "really detracts from the fundamental mission," Selingo said.
"We simply ask," he said, "'What kind of priorities does that reflect?'''