Brady speech a win for Salem State

Updated: Brady gave entire fee to charity

TOM BRADY MAY HAVE scored big with his $170,000 speaker fee from Salem State University but school officials insist the appearance by the Super Bowl MVP was a winner for their foundation as well with more than $40,000 in net profit from ticket sales and corporate sponsorships.

Karen Murray Cady, the school’s director of university relations, says the private nonprofit Salem State Foundation, which sponsored the May 7 event, pulled in roughly $371,000 in ticket sales and sponsorships while doling out between $326,000 and $330,000 in fees for Brady and emcee Jim Gray and expenses for chair rental, lighting, and a reception for corporate sponsors and guests.

“Basically, it was a 23.5 percent return on investment,” Cady said, calculating the net profit against Brady’s fee rather than the entire pool of expenses.

Cady said there is always a cost to hosting an event such as this but that for the most part, they pay for themselves without drawing from money needed for school services.

“You have costs and you have revenue,” she said. “Absolutely, there was not one dime of public funds or student money that is intended directly for student education that was used.”

On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker defended both Salem State and Brady, saying the money used to pay Brady was not from public funds and he said the quarterback didn’t keep the fee anyway.

“He turned around and gave the whole $170,000 to Best Buddies,” Baker said on his monthly appearance on Boston Public Radio on WGBH.

A statement from Best Buddies chairman Anthony Kennedy Shriver on Friday said Brady gave the organization $50,000 and the rest to other charities. It is unclear when Brady made the donation and a spokeswoman for the charity said she did not know. Brady is the leading spokesman for the Best Buddies and a major fundraiser.

The Boston Globe first reported Brady’s fee after the paper had sought copies of school President Patricia Maguire Meservey’s emails to verify the amount. Cady said the emails were not released but the fee was made public after consultation with Brady’s representatives, who authorized the disclosure. Cady said the contract between the school foundation and speakers in the series is confidential and can only be released with approval of the speaker. She said this is the first time the fee has ever been made public.

Brady’s fee may not be the most the foundation has ever paid for a speaker in the 33-year history of the series, which has included former presidents Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush; the late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto; Patriots coach Bill Belichick; actors Robert Redford and Goldie Hawn; and TV news legend Walter Cronkite, among others. But, Cady admitted, Brady’s fee was “among the highest.”

Brady’s appearance, while profitable, was not in a class by itself, said Cady. She said the appearance by Clinton in 2001 was right up there in terms of return with Brady’s hour-long chat with Gray.

Brady arrived in style for the appearance, which came the day after a scathing report from a special investigator hired by the NFL charged that Brady was complicit in deflating footballs before games, including prior to the AFC Championship in January.

Brady flew by charter helicopter, though it’s unclear if the chopper picked him up in Foxborough or Brookline, where he lives. A pilot familiar with the charter industry said the flight cost about $2,000 for the single-engine helicopter that transported Brady and waited for him to return. The pilot said other higher-end helicopters normally used by executives go for as much as $5,000 for the same flight and he questioned the choice.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

“I couldn’t believe they let Tom Brady get in that thing,” said the pilot, who asked not to be identified.

Cady insists Brady’s helicopter ride was not one of the expenses covered by the school’s foundation. “I don’t know who paid for it, but we didn’t pay for it,” she said.