The University of California spent $11.22 billion on its payroll last year, up 6 percent from the year before, according to figures released Wednesday.
Total pay to faculty rose by about 4 percent, while pay to nonacademic staff and management rose by 7 percent. Between 2006 and 2012, the system's payroll grew more than 35 percent.
Pay has been a controversial subject across the UC system in recent years as tuition has risen and state funding has lagged. UC officials say they pay less than other top-flight universities and will lose the best talent if they cut compensation by much.
UC's regents recently approved the hiring of a new president. Outgoing U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will take control at UC in September at a salary of $570,000 about $21,000 less than Mark Yudof, the departing UC president.
UC officials attributed the 2012 increased spending on salaries to growth in student enrollment, research activity and the size of its workforce.
"There were no general pay increases," said UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein. "The amount of pay did increase by 6 percent but this was largely from the medical enterprise."
The largest increase in payroll was at the university's teaching hospitals, the new data show. Pay in health care and allied sciences jumped nearly 10 percent from 2011 to 2012 to $2.56 billion.
The money UC spent to pay its 191,000 employees in 2012 came less from student tuition and the state and federal governments and more from the business it does at five hospitals around California, including the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
As in past years, doctors, hospital executives and athletic coaches were UC's highest-paid employees in 2012:
UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland was the top-paid UC employee, receiving $2.23 million. He was fired by the school in March.
UCLA surgeon Ron Busuttil earned $2.23 million.
UC Berkeley football coach Jeff Tedford earned $2.15 million. Tedford was fired after the 2012 season.
UCLA obstetrician Khalil Tabsh earned $2.14 million.
UC Berkeley basketball coach Mike Montgomery earned $1.92 million.
Ann Madden Rice, CEO of the UC Davis Medical Center, was the 19th-highest-paid UC employee statewide, earning $1.03 million last year.
Coaches, doctors and hospital executives are not paid with taxpayer dollars, Klein said. Salary for the highest-paid coaches comes from ticket sales, television contracts and sponsorships by clothing and shoe manufacturers. Doctors and hospital executives are paid by medical center revenue, the money generated from treating patients.
The salary figures added fuel to an ongoing contract dispute between UC management and the union representing many hospital workers, including janitors and technicians. Todd Stenhouse, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3299, said UC's payroll is "growing outrageously" because of six- and seven-figure executive salaries.
"We have argued that more of that money needs to be focused on front-line care," Stenhouse said. "We want to see more staff."
Bob Powell, a UC Davis professor who represents faculty on the statewide Academic Senate, said UC pays professors less than they could make at comparable universities.
As an example, he said UC faculty this year got a 2 percent pay raise July 1. At the same time, the university required professors to increase the amount they contribute to UC's retirement plan by 1.5 percent leaving a net gain of less than 1 percent.
"It's a huge challenge for us," Powell said. "There is progress but it's not keeping up with inflation or increases to our retirement system."
Call Laurel Rosenhall, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1083. Follow her on Twitter @laurelrosenhall.