Trustees | Costs

Are College Coaches Overpaid?

PARADE MAGAZINE   |  June 20, 2008 by Lyric Wallwork Winik

The average pay of major college football coaches now stands at more than $1 million a year. Some of the highest-paid coaches—including Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Alabama’s Nick Saban, Florida’s Urban Meyer, and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz—make in excess of $3 million annually, including endorsement contracts. Even members of coaching staffs do well. Offensive and defensive coordinators for top teams make about $200,000 each year.

Meanwhile, professors’ pay is in a different league. The average yearly salary for an engineering professor is $107,134 (instructors earn about $55,000), and the average math professor earns $81,818.

Jennifer Kearns of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) defends coaches’ high pay. She says that, unlike professors who have the protection of tenure, “coaches can be dismissed for lackluster records or the inappropriate behavior of 18- to 22-year-olds.” Kearns adds that coaches’ salaries are set by the marketplace and by “economic forces at each school.” Athletic budgets at some universities can top $50 million.

But a recent report by the NCAA suggests that college sports are, in fact, money-losing propositions. Among the 119 schools with top Division I football teams, only 19 had athletic departments that generated a profit in 2006.

As college tuition and fees continue to rise, critics contend that many schools’ athletic programs have gotten out of hand. Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, says, “Some colleges seem more focused on beer and spectacle than on teaching and learning. The public, students, and tuition payers have a right to know how their money is being spent.” Tell us what you think: Are college coaches overpaid?


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