Sports

Public Universities Are Paying NCAA Tournament Head Coaches $96 Million a Year

Here's how much each coach earns.

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Mark Cornelison/TNS/Newscom

The nearly four dozen public universities with teams in the NCAA men's basketball tournament are paying their head coaches more than $96 million combined in annual compensation.

On average, each coach makes $2,139,107; the payouts total $96,259,815. Those numbers do not include benefits or outside income.

A few things to be aware of: In some cases, the pay includes money that comes directly from the school, as well as money from nonprofit organizations related to the school or specially allocated funds from private donors. For instance, Nevada coach Eric Musselman earns a base salary of $1 million per year, thanks to a five-year contract he signed in May 2017. But $600,000 of this comes from private donors and ticket sales, according to the Nevada Appeal.

It's also undeniable that some college coaches bring money into their universities. Kentucky's John Calipari, for instance, is considered to be one of the greatest recruiters in the men's college game. His skills are reflected in Kentucky's bottom line; the school's basketball program pulled in an average of $49.4 million per year between the 2014–15 and 2016–17 seasons and made an average profit of $22.9 million per year, reports Forbes.

That being said, coaches at public colleges and universities are still employed by, well, the public. Yet many of them are paid oodles more than the vast majority of other public employees. In 2017, men's college basketball coaches in Nevada, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were the highest-paid public employees in their respective states, according to ESPN.

Back to the NCAA tournament. Of the 68 teams that made it to the Big Dance this year, 47 are public institutions. Here's how much those public schools' head coaches are making, ranked from highest to lowest. Unless otherwise noted, the information comes from USA Today, which has compiled a list of compensation packages for many NCAA men's basketball coaches. USA Today says its figures are based on salary and money from other contractual provisions, as well as "deferred payments earned annually," unaudited expense accounts, and "signing and other one-time bonuses earned in the current contract year."

  1. John Calipari (Kentucky): $7,950,000
  2. Tony Bennett (Virginia): $4,150,000
  3. Chris Mack (Louisville): $4,007,494
  4. Bill Self (Kansas): $3,881,857
  5. John Beilein (Michigan): $3,800,000
  6. Tom Izzo (Michigan State): $3,732,562
  7. Rick Barnes (Tenessee): $3,250,000
  8. Lon Kruger (Oklahoma): $3,200,000
  9. Chris Holtmann (Ohio State): $3,013,750
  10. Buzz Williams (Virginia Tech): $3,000,000
  11. Mark Turgeon (Maryland): $2,847,232
  12. Matt Painter (Purdue): $2,825,000
  13. Dana Altman (Oregon): $2,800,000
  14. Chris Beard (Texas Tech): $2,800,000
  15. Michael White (Florida): $2,612,758
  16. Bruce Weber (Kansas State): $2,600,000
  17. Bruce Pearl (Auburn): $2,600,000
  18. Kermit Davis (Mississippi): $2,500,000
  19. Will Wade (LSU): $2,500,000
  20. Bobby Hurley (Arizona State): $2,355,000
  21. Greg Gard (Wisconsin): $2,350,000
  22. Fran McCaffery (Iowa): $2,300,000
  23. Roy Williams (UNC): $2,281,778
  24. Leonard Hamilton (Florida State): $2,250,000
  25. Mick Cronin (Cincinnati): $2,224,483
  26. Ben Howland (Mississippi State): $2,200,000
  27. Richard Pitino (Minnesota): $2,188,141
  28. Steve Prohm (Iowa State): $2,050,000
  29. Mike Hopkins (Washington): $1,900,000
  30. Kelvin Sampson (Houston): $1,400,000 (Source: Houston Chronicle)
  31. Francis Dunphy (Temple): at least $1,267,760 (That's how much he made in the 2016 calendar year, according to the school. It's highly unlikely he now earns less.)
  32. Mike Rhoades (VCU): $1,200,000 (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
  33. Johnny Dawkins (UCF): $1,100,000 (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
  34. Eric Musselman (University of Nevada, Reno): $1,000,000
  35. Craig Smith (Utah State): $650,000 (Source: The Salt Lake Tribune)
  36. Nate Oats (Buffalo): $612,000
  37. Russell Turner (UC–Irvine): At least $535,000 (That's what he earned in the 2017 calendar year, according to the University of California website.)
  38. Jeff Jones (Old Dominion): $506,974 (Source: WAVY)
  39. Ron Hunter (Georgia State): At least $460,000 (Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  40. Chris Jans (New Mexico State): $429,000
  41. Matt McMahon (Murray State): $400,000 (Source: WPSD)
  42. John Brannen (Northern Kentucky): $370,000 (Source: The Northerner)
  43. John Becker (Vermont): $309,000 (Source: University of Vermont)
  44. Levelle Moton (NC Central): $250,000 (Source: The News & Observer)
  45. Dave Richman (North Dakota State): $195,000 (Source: Argus Leader)
  46. Travis DeCuire (Montana): $175,000 (Source: the Associated Press)
  47. Byron Smith (Prairie View A&M): $107,000, as of April 2018 (Source: DI Coach Corner)

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55 responses to “Public Universities Are Paying NCAA Tournament Head Coaches $96 Million a Year

  1. That being said, coaches at public colleges and universities are still employed by, well, the public.

    And nobody really cares.

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  2. Can we really ever pay teachers enough?

    1. solid point Paul.

    2. Just as soon as the individual ‘people’ get a chance to pay them. Its only worth what someone is willing to pay for it and when neither the choice nor the money is a persons choice (socialism) then there is no value variable.

    3. Pay good teachers good salaries.
      Get rid of the baby sitters who pretend they’re teaching.

  3. And in the states were the basketball coach isn’t the highest paid state employee, it is likely a football coach is the the highest paid state employee.

    1. Unless you’re talking about NY…

  4. Mark Turgeon (Maryland): $2,847,232

    OVV-ERR PAIIID!

    1. Mark Few of Gonzaga University was left off the list. He made $1.37 million in 2017. He’s a relative bargain. GU is a private university. So I don’t give a fuck what they do with their money, other than employing that cunt Melissa Click. As that has put her residence within ten minutes of mine.

      I am not pleased. I’m flanked by both her and Rachel Dolezal now. That may be Crusty’s idea of a hot threesome, but I would rather dip my junk in battery acid.

      1. But, Dolezal is black & once you black, you never go back!

  5. Better tham than many of the idiots on the faculty who are pure shit in their jobs…

  6. Well who else are they allowed to pay?

  7. And the athletes get paid zero. No, the “scholarship” doesn’t actually count for much in the long run since you’re really a full-time athlete and a part time (if you’re lucky) student who isn’t allowed to take certain majors or courses because they interfere with your full-time job, which is to play a sport for the college.

    Freakonomics had a good series on this. http://freakonomics.com/hidden-sports/

    The one about “Not Just Another Labor Force” is the one that goes into this at some point, if I recall correctly.

    1. The NCAA should just separate from the colleges and become a semi-pro farm league.

      1. But then they wouldn’t make nearly the shitloads of money they make now. It’s a psychological thing. The college team is the “home” team. If they were “just” a farm league, they wouldn’t be that as much, for some reason. The kids and extended family go to the school, so the school is part of their lives in some way. Even if they aren’t, it still seems like the home team. My grandparents in New Orleans were big Tulane fans. Ok, they lived down the street from the campus, but they never went to Tulane. None of their children went. I almost went for grad school, but I ended up going to a different school, so whatever. Didn’t matter. Big Tulane fans. Why? Because it’s the home team. Or something.

        1. For example, see AHL.

        2. There is also that the colleges built their fan bases and traditions at the point when the college versions of basketball and football were more popular than the pro leagues. They are still riding the emotional capital of that. This is something that developed organically, you would not have put this system in place intentionally.

        3. “s***loads of money”? Hardly. Except for a few marquee programs (Alabama football, Duke basketball), college sports as a whole lose money, particularly when the Title IX minor sports are added in. And this doesn’t include the intangible costs, such as counseling, discipline, campus security, and disruption of faculty time, distracting from the core missions of instruction and research.

          1. Most of that is paper losses (like when that first Spider-Man movie “lost” money so they didn’t have to pay Stan Lee). There are a lot of programs that don’t do well financially, but most pull in significant money from boosters an alumni that wouldn’t come in without the sports programs. See also “Lori Laughlin”.

          2. If not shitloads of money, they reap shitloads of public support (which at least indirectly keeps the state governors and legislators from cutting State U completely out of the budget). The proof is partly supported by you comment about “minor” sports that most of the local citizens don’t know and don’t care about–and would not miss if the campus closed.

          3. “s***loads of money”? Hardly. Except for a few marquee programs (Alabama football, Duke basketball), college sports as a whole lose money

            What? No fucking way. First off, I think we all know we’re talking mainly about football and basketball here, maybe baseball. Those rake in shitloads of money from TV and merchandise. And the NCAA certainly isn’t losing any money.

            And you’re saying that on the whole it loses money, when college football alone pulls in billions? Look at this list of the top 25 most valuable college football teams. These colleges profit $30-100 M a year from football alone. Surely basketball is pulling in comparable numbers. These colleges than lose more than that on water polo and women’s lacrosse? No fucking way.

        4. I recently wrote a bit on making it so the athletes have a choice of a scholarship, or a salary equal to what the scholarship would cover. Additionally the athletes who take the scholarship would be able to attend a different school than they play for, to eliminate some of the conflicts of interest and the scandals that come with them. For example the recent admissions scandals, the athletes wouldn’t need to be given preferential admission because they would need to be students. If they can’t make it into the school on their academic merits then they can just take the salary, or attend a different school

          You’d still have your home team, the schools would still make money, but the athletes would be something closer to support staff, or student workers, rather than necessarily students.

          I figured it might even have the added effect of slowing or even reversing tuition increases, so avoid the schools having to pay big cash salaries lol

        5. I recently wrote a bit on making it so the athletes have a choice of a scholarship, or a salary equal to what the scholarship would cover. Additionally the athletes who take the scholarship would be able to attend a different school than they play for, to eliminate some of the conflicts of interest and the scandals that come with them. For example the recent admissions scandals, the athletes wouldn’t need to be given preferential admission because they would need to be students. If they can’t make it into the school on their academic merits then they can just take the salary, or attend a different school

          You’d still have your home team, the schools would still make money, but the athletes would be something closer to support staff, or student workers, rather than necessarily students.

          I figured it might even have the added effect of slowing or even reversing tuition increases, so avoid the schools having to pay big cash salaries lol

    2. “And the athletes get paid zero. No, the “scholarship” doesn’t actually count for much in the long run since you’re really a full-time athlete and a part time (if you’re lucky) student who isn’t allowed to take certain majors or courses because they interfere with your full-time job, which is to play a sport for the college.”

      Bull.
      Shit.

      What’s tuition these days? $25k-$100k / year?
      A scholarship gets you: a) tuition, b) room and board, c) meal plan, d) books, e) medical care, f) personal training, g) individual tutoring.
      That, alone, is worth a hell of a lot.
      You also get the best housing, and preferential admission standards and course scheduling.
      Then, a diploma if you complete the requirements for one and something (“college athlete for X years”) that looks damn good on a resume.
      And some – a very, very small proportion – are good enough to turn it into a pro career.

      That some don’t take the advantage of it that they should is no justification for your bitch ass whining.

      The athletes have agency and they make choices, just like the rest of us. Their physical abilities give them an extra advantage and it’s up to them to make of it what they will.

      1. Truth. There is a small percentage of kids who didn’t come to “play school” and are counseled against taking hard classes, but I could run off a list of schools athletes who were pre med, biochemical engineers, and what have you.

      2. If the scholarship is worth $100k, the kid can just sell it for cash right? Wait, they aren’t allowed to exchange it for currency? Oh, weird!

        1. Did you think you had a point there, foo?

          If one doesn’t like the deal, one doesn’t have to take it.
          The recipient doesn’t own the scholarship. It’s a form of compensation provided for bringing perceived value.

  8. coaches far more productive than professors. go K-State.

    1. At least most coaches aren’t raging commies.

    2. I like the cut of your jib, sir. EMAW!

  9. Paying for college coaches is one of the least wasteful ways the state to spends public money.

    1. Have to agree with you here. If Reason really wants to shine a light on waste in college athletics, they could highlight Title IX requirements that have public universities fielding programs like women’s rowing that capture no interest from the public, students, or sometimes even the “athletes” themselves.

      1. Except when the clowns get caught with a female grad Assistant and fired without cause in the first year of their contract…

  10. It isn’t only about public institutions. Private institutions enjoy tax exemptions and deductibility of contributions to their sports programs.

    The time has come to get higher education – uniformly supported or subsidized by the taxpayer – out of the business of providing subsidized developmental leagues for the ridiculously profitable NBA and NFL and cheap programming for absurdly profitable media conglomerates such as Disney and Comcast.

  11. And the salaries of those coaches, their staff, and in fact the bulk of their entire athletic programs, is EASILY covered by TV broadcast revenues.

    So what exactly was your point?

    1. Only in a few institutions. 9 out of 10 basketball programs lose money.

      It’s a massive moneymaker for the champions and big names. However, the small schools lose fortunes annually even on football, soccer, and basketball. All schools lose money on the smaller sports.

  12. “That being said, coaches at public colleges and universities are still employed by, well, the public. Yet many of them are paid oodles more than the vast majority of other public employees. In 2017, men’s college basketball coaches in Nevada, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were the highest-paid public employees in their respective states, according to ESPN”

    I don’t care about college hoops, but I can tell you that at the very least, these guys are causing me a whole lot less harm than the average congress critter, so they should be paid more than them.

    1. Imagine what would happen if congressmen were paid commensurate with their responsibility. Say $2 million annually. How would that shake up the primaries?

      1. Don’t go too far in the other direction. Texas Congress gets paid $10k annually, but disrupts your schedule so much that you can’t have any other employment. The only way to serve is to be corrupt or independently wealthy. Most congressmen choose both.

      2. “Imagine what would happen if congressmen were paid commensurate with their responsibility.”

        Assuming it was constitutional responsibility, $50K/annum sounds about right. The rest is handing out baksheesh.

  13. Unaudited expense accounts?

    Hmmmmm

    1. hookers and cocaine are tax deductible

      1. Now I’m really pissed that my accountant never told me this. I could have saved tens of thousands in taxes

  14. How much do FoosBall coaches get paid?

    1. What they are worth: $0.00

  15. HEY LOOK! More EFFECTS of Socialized education in this nation.

  16. How about a story on the highest paid coaches that failed to make it to the Big Dance?
    This article was a waste of time

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  18. Instead of being paid the NCAA should give the players a royalty on players jerseys sold. Also, let them be paid for endorsements. That eliminates Title IV considerations. And it creates a free market for their services. The income would go into a trust to use after they are done playing.

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  21. In all cases the Universities are looking at the salaries as an investment to increase athletic income. In most cases it is somewhat successful, in some wildly successful, and in others it is a loss. But the purpose is to increase college income. What the coaches actually make is irrelevant if they are successful in doing that.

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