In this recessionary economy, from which hardly anyone has escaped, how is it that the salaries of college football coaches, particularly at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level continue to climb meteorically? Over the past few years, most colleges and universities across the country have been forced to implement layoffs, furloughs, and budget reductions in order to stay afloat. How then, are FBS institutions able to justify the preposterous salaries that they are paying head coaches and even assistant coaches?
Led by the Southeastern Conference, the number of highly paid coordinators and other assistants is growing. The list of assistants earning $250,000 or more in the FBS is up from at least 106 a year ago to 132 this past football season. Fifty-one are in the Southeastern Conference. Twenty-six assistants are paid $400,000 or more (thirteen of which are in the SEC) doubling the number who earned that much in 2009. Four defensive coordinators are making $700,000 or better (Weiberg & Berkowitz, 2010).
An analysis of head coaches’ compensation in the FBS found that their 2010 pay held steady from a year ago at an average of $1.36 million (Weiberg & Berkowitz, 2010). The highest paid coach in college football is Nick Saban, from the University of Alabama, whose total compensation package for 2010 was $6,087,349. Coming in at a distant second place is Mack Brown, from the University of Texas, who was paid $5.1 million for 2010 (Tidesports.com, 2011). To place things in perspective, the highest salary of the legendary John Wooden, albeit a basketball coach who retired in 1975, was $35,000.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of college professors nationally in 2008-2009 was $79,439 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011). The median salary of college presidents in 2007-2008, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education was $436,111 (The Chronicle Review, 2010). If institutions don’t reign in coaches’ salaries to be more in line with salaries of faculty and administrators, intercollegiate athletics programs will increasingly have a hard time justifying their need, compensation, and relevance on college campuses.
- Coach Wooden’s lessons for BP, Toyota, Tiger, and Ben Rothlisberger (June 6, 2010). Image CPR. Retrieved on February 16, 2011 from http://www.imagecpr.com/?p=1556
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition. Retrieved February 14, 2011 from Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos066.htm#earnings.
- The Chronicle Review (2011). The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved February 15, 2011 from http://chronicle.com/article/College-Presidents-Salaries/63874.
- Nick Saban highest paid football coach (December 9, 2010). Tidesports.com. Retrieved on February 16, 2011 from http://www.tidesports.com/article/20101209/NEWS/101209646
- Wieberg, S. and Berkowitz, S. USA TODAY, December 22, 2010. Football assistants see pay hikes; 26 aides hit $400,000 threshold in college game.
Craig Bogar, Ed.D.
Dr. Bogar is the Dean of Student Services for the United States Sports Academy. He has served as director of athletics for the University of Mobile and Loyola University of New Orleans, and has coached track and swimming.