Given all major-college basketball coaches put up with, the expertise and leadership they provide in a very competitive realm, maybe they get paid what they deserve.
But few observers leave it at that.
Some want assurance the coach of their favorite team is sufficiently well paid, both in abstract terms and in relation to his peers, to keep him in place while his program prospers. Still others seek a sense of the order of professional regard in which each school and coach are held.
And a vocal contingent are convinced that, even recognizing the workings of the free market, there’s simply too much money, poorly distributed at that, in college sports.
Critics argue something’s wrong with a system in which a college head basketball or football coach is the highest paid public employee in a preponderance of U.S. states. They question, with intensifying fervor and purchase, why seven-figure compensation is standard fare for big-time coaches and, increasingly, Power Five directors of athletics, while the players themselves have little agency in sharing or apportioning the income their labors generate.
Not incidentally, the disproportionate nature of sharing basketball swag ever more clearly reflects an ancient power structure in which Blacks crowd the playing ranks while occupants of sidelines and athletic corporate offices remain predominantly White.
These are, of course, longstanding issues of debate and concern. Lately proposals and adjustments have come in a near-constant stream from the NCAA, state and federal legislatures and courts, and, increasingly, the court of public opinion.
Regard the figures presented here, courtesy of USA Today, as close approximations of coaches’ annual compensation entering the 2019-20 season, as reported in Feb. 2020, the most recent figures available. University tax returns were the primary source of information. There are caveats: deferred payments, secretive private institutions, bonuses, unidentified supplemental income from program-related sponsors, unwillingness of universities to clarify various payment stipulations.
For point of reference, the newspaper attributed the top basketball pay to Kentucky’s John Calipari, whom it said received $8,158,000 last season. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski supposedly stood second at $7,257,000 in 2019.
The ACC had three of the game’s 10 highest-paid coaches, four of the top 20. All 15 were among the top 68.
Wake Forest basketball’s Steve Forbes, hired this past May, is listed as receiving predecessor Danny Manning’s most recent salary. A private school, Wake isn’t telling.
Pitt’s Jeff Capel is shown at the salary commanded by predecessor Kevin Stallings ($3.2 million). This past January the school gave Capel a two-year extension through 2026-27, so it may well be higher. But Pitt did not disclose Capel’s pay and Pittsburgh-area media reports amazingly ignored the topic entirely in reporting the extension.
None of these coaches’ salaries reflect cost-cutting, voluntary or mandatory, dictated by the pandemic’s impact on athletic departments.
Panther football coach Pat Narduzzi is paid $3.95 million annually. Thirty-two of his football colleagues, including Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente, got at least $4 million per year.
Alabama’s Nick Saban led the way within FBS football at $9.1 million annually, with LSU’s Ed Orgeron second at $8.7 million and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney third at a paltry $8.3 million. Clemson recently announced it was eliminating the Tigers’ once-vaunted track and field program to save $1 million.
|HIGH AND MIGHTY
Annual Salaries Of ACC Men's Head Basketball Coaches
(In Descending Order Based On USA Today Reporting, As Of Feb. 2020)
|School||Coach||Amount||Rank in Div I|
|Duke||Mike Krzyzewski||$7.257 M||2|
|North Carolina||Roy Williams||$4.386 M||8|
|Louisville||Chris Mack||$4.007 M||9|
|NC State||Kevin Keatts||$2.874 M||32|
|Syracuse||Jim Boeheim||$2.639 M||38|
|Notre Dame||Mike Brey||$2.407 M||49|
|Clemson||Brad Brownell||$2.328 M||51|
|Florida State||Leonard Hamilton||$2.250 M||52|
|Miami||Jim Larranaga||$2.168 M||54|
|Wake Forest||Steve Forbes||$2.041M||56|
|Virginia Tech||Mike Young||$2.0 M||57|
|Georgia Tech||Josh Pastner||$1.9 M||60|
|Boston College||Jim Christian||$1.375M||68|