College Coaches Can Earn Over 10X More Than College Presidents

Sep 13, 2011

The University of Louisville paid its men's basketball head coach $6.1 million for the 2010/2011 season. In contrast, the President of the University of Louisville made $456,132 in 2010. Is this difference in salaries justified or just out of control?

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By Jessica Lyons

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Salaries for Coaches and Administrators

In March of 2011, USA Today took a look at the salaries of men's basketball coaches whose teams were playing in the NCAA tournament. Rick Pitino of the University of Louisville made the top of the list, earning a salary of $6,100,000 during the 2010/2011 season. That amount didn't even include bonuses or non-university sources of revenues, like making paid appearances.

A Forbes article in March of 2010 reported that John Calipari scored a $32 million contract when he signed on to coach the University of Kentucky's basketball team for eight years. That same article reported that, of 347 college basketball coaches in Division I, 25 were making at least a million dollars.

Higher education administrators might not be fairing quite as well as the coaches. The Minnesota Daily examined the 2009 salaries of University of Minnesota employees in a January 2010 article. The school's head basketball coach, Tubby Smith, was the top earner, with a salary of $630,000 and actual total earnings that exceeded $1.7 million. Bob Bruininks, the president of the University of Minnesota, came in third on the list with a salary and actual earnings of $455,000. (Second place honors went to the dean of the school's Carlson School of Management.)

According to a report that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, during the 2007/2008 school year 5.9% of 393 higher education chief executives surveyed made at least one million dollars. However, most (51.7%) earned $200,000-$399,000 annually.

Who Should Be Making More?

Some might argue that college coaches deserve to make so much money since their athletic programs can draw in a lot of money and people. When a basketball team wins the national championship, it can help increase interest in the school, which could even translate to more students applying to attend. And the fan bases of these programs can extend far beyond just the student body with people all over the country buying tickets to games or purchasing merchandise. But is the revenue really worth the amount spent on high coach salaries?

Regardless of the money an athletic program might be able to bring in, schools are, first and foremost, about academics and making sure students are getting a proper education. Since it is college and university presidents who oversee all aspects of the school, and not just one athletic program, it stands to reason that they should be valued more than coaches.

While some are worried that coaches are making too much, others think that teachers should be earning more.

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