Women’s college sports have changed enormously since the adoption of Title IX in 1972. More teams are being fielded and more athletes are participating, and overall visibility and popularity have increased exponentially. There is at least one area where women’s teams still lag significantly behind: coaches’ compensation.
This is especially apparent in basketball. While prominent coaches of successful women’s teams like Tennessee’s Pat Summitt and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma receive salaries around $2 million, their compensation packages are unusual.
The average salary for the coach of a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s team in any sport — including universities in the Football Bowl and Football Championship Subdivisions — increased by 67 percent to $267,007 from 2003 to 2010, according to statistics from the Department of Education. By contrast, the average salary for the coach of a women’s team increased by 16 percent to $98,106.
For Division I basketball, the median salary for coaches of a men’s team in 2010 was $329,300, nearly twice that of coaches for women’s teams, who had a median of $171,600. Over the past four years, the median pay of men’s head coaches increased by 40 percent compared with 28 percent for women’s coaches.
“Women’s coaches like Pat and Geno are the outliers,” said Robert Lattinville, the chairman of the sports division at the law firm Stinson Morrison Hecker, which represents numerous coaches. “In most cases, the coaches of women’s basketball teams earn about one-half or one-third of the amount of the men’s basketball coach.”
A typical comparison is found at Kansas State, where Frank Martin was paid $1.4 million, more than twice the salary for Deb Patterson, who earns $595,016. (Martin left Kansas State after last season to become the coach at South Carolina). North Carolina’s Roy Williams receives three times as much as Sylvia Hatchell, who earns $514,718. Williams has won two national titles for the Tar Heels; Hatchell has won one.
Much of the discrepancy comes from the way a coach’s compensation is structured, in part to comply with federal regulations on gender equity outside Title IX. For example, the salary for men and women coaches should be roughly comparable because of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits an employer from discriminating in employment based on pay and other conditions. Even other contract components — perks like cars, country club memberships or low-interest loans — should be comparable.
A major factor here is the use of third-party money for items in contracts described as supplements, talent fees or appearance fees. Those funds can come from athletic departments’ endorsement agreements with apparel companies or similar arrangements, but regardless of the source, they are not subject to the same regulation as the base salary.
Because equal pay is required only for comparable work, contracts are often structured so men’s coaches perform more additional duties beyond simply coaching. For example, a men’s coach may be required to make 20 appearances a year at alumni events, while the women’s coach is required to make 15.
Third-party funds for women’s coaches are modest, if they exist at all. Summer camp revenue and bonuses are other areas where significant differences can occur. Men’s basketball coaches can earn six figures through their summer camps, money they can use to supplement assistants’ salaries. For women’s coaches, summer camps are first and foremost recruiting tools, and the goal is to break even financially.
Because the Equal Pay Act focuses on gender-based discrimination, men who coach women’s teams are not protected, as the comparison coach is another man. Kentucky’s John Calipari earned a $100,000 bonus when his team made the Round of 16, but the Wildcats’ women’s coach, Matthew Mitchell, received $40,000 for the same feat.
Another reason frequently given for why women’s coaches are paid less is that the vast majority of women’s programs at large universities are not successful financially, while men’s basketball teams are, on the whole, quite successful.
According to information universities provided to the Department of Education, about one-third of women’s basketball programs were profitable in 2010. These tended to be at universities with an average enrollment of 3,400, and even then, the annual net profit was on average less than $16,000 per university.
The ability of men’s programs to produce more revenue can be used as a defense against claims of sex discrimination related to coaches’ salaries. (A related defense could point to the marketplace value of coaches, saying essentially that a particular men’s coach could command a higher salary because of his specific experience and abilities).
To use revenue numbers as a successful defense, universities must first show that they provide equal support in the form of advertising dollars, support staff and promotional and speaking events to both programs. Legal defenses notwithstanding, the perception that men’s programs receive more support than women’s persists for some people.
“I don’t think today’s coaches consider the resources to be more fairly apportioned or that the playing field is necessarily more level,” said Nora Lynn Finch, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s associate commissioner of women’s basketball.
Some women’s coaches include language in their contracts that translates to improving conditions for their teams.
In 2007, when C. Vivian Stringer agreed to a new deal with Rutgers, the contract noted that she could upgrade the women’s basketball locker room and offices of her assistants with capital improvements funds in which she “played a substantial role in the identification and solicitation of the donor and where the donor has designated capital improvements for the women’s basketball program.” In other words, Stringer sought assurances in her contract that money she raised for her team would be spent on improvements to its facilities.
An interesting twist is that the percentage of men coaching women’s basketball teams has grown. R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter, in an extensive study of gender equity in intercollegiate sports, found that 79.4 percent of women’s college basketball teams were coached by women in 1978. In 2010, the number had dropped to 57 percent.
The total number of female coaches has grown because the number of college basketball teams has grown, to 1,049 this year from 466 teams in 1978.
It’s 2012 and close to four years after the Lilly ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law. Surely, the gender wage gap has been closed, right? Wrong.
Even with moves toward equalizing pay between men and women, men still make almost 20% more than women in nearly all industries. This is despite the fact that women receive the same education, with the same tuition price tags and levels of debt upon graduation. The only major differences are that there are more ladies in college and they have better average GPAs to boot. The benefits of paying women their fair share include increasing the GDP while reducing the poverty rates for families.
Check out the infographic below to see what else the gender wage gap affects.
The above infographic was supplied to the Digest by Kayla Evans. Ms. Evans is one of a group that operates an informational website. The material is used here with permission of the authors. This story also draws on information from a New York Times story that can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/sports/ncaabasketball/pay-for-womens-basketball-coaches-lags-far-behind-mens-coaches.html?pagewanted=all.
Greg Tyler is the Library Director at the United States Sports Academy. He has also taught courses at the Academy in sports law. He worked for years in youth sports as a coach, league administrator and as a soccer referee. He has a law degree and practiced law for a number of years.