Football Coach Salaries

I am not sure I find Nick Saban's $32 million contract with Alabama that surprising.  After all, Alabama considers itself a top-10 program but a series of rejections have made the job tainted goods.  When prestige won't sell, money is always the fall back.   And Saban has learned what most other college coaches have learned -- the NFL is a LOT of freaking work and stress compared to college.

My question is a different one.  My guess is that this makes Saban the highest paid state government employee in Alabama.  Is there any state where a college men's football or basketball coach is not the highest paid state official?

  • Ben

    It is not only a state employee issue. I remember reading an article at the time he was hired (~2 years ago) that Bobby Ross, the current Army football coach, is the highest paid federal employee. Although I seem to recall that there is some type of endowment/booster fund set up to avoid federal regulations that prevent the federal government from paying anyone more than the president makes.

    As far as your original question goes, I would guess that Montana, ND, SD, Maine, NH, Vermont, NY, Mass, RI, Delaware would all be possible choices to not have a coach in that position since none have a state university with either a I-A football program or a basketball team in a major conference. Of course, even there, almost all of those states have fairly high profile I-AA football teams that could still pay more than any other state employee.

  • Dan

    Yeah, I think typical high-priced coaches, (like some high-priced university presidents,) are paid mostly out of ticket revenues and booster funds. I remember when ASU hired Michael Crow at his absurd salary, they reported he would be paid mostly by the ASU Foundation.

    Not that it justifies the over-importance universities ascribe to their athletics programs.

  • Of course some states are also paying off contracts of fired coaches. Unlike a lot of other state employees, coaching salaries are usually guaranteed. The University of Minnesota just fired its football and basketball coaches, adding those salaries to whatever their successors earn.

  • I'm not sure about it on the state level, but many people have argued that the CEOs of Fredie Mac and Fanie Mae are the highest paid federal employees. I wonder if the guy manages the endowments of any of the colleges with large endowments that happen to be state schools (Michigan or Texas come to mind) would also qualify.

  • Jody

    Perhaps only useful for someone following through on finding a state where a coach isn't the highest salaried public employee, here's a correction of Ben's oversight of the Big East
    1A Football:
    in NY Syracuse
    in MA Boston College (Former Big East)

    Major Conference 1A Basketball:
    previous plus
    in NY St John's
    in RI Providence

    That still leaves MT, ND, SD, ME, NH, VT, DE, and Alaska as possible choices for non 1A football/non major conference basketball

  • markm

    " some states are also paying off contracts of fired coaches. Unlike a lot of other state employees, coaching salaries are usually guaranteed."

    But not so much unlike university professors, who are tenured and have both a guaranteed salary and a guaranteed job. The difference is, I guess, that unlike teaching, the coaching job is too important to allow someone who is no longer performing well to remain in it.

  • Ben

    Alaska was indeed an oversight, but Syracuse, BC, St. John's, and Providence are all private institutions and thus their coaches would not be state employees.

  • Jody

    I type corrected. They are indeed private. (Though until just now I thought the Cuse were public. the others are from not thinking clearly.)

    However, NY is still out because of Buffalo as they're in 1A for football (though admittedly not fielding a 1A quality team)

  • Ben

    I thought Syracuse was public as well and had to look it up. The rest of the list was done from memory however, and I did neglect Buffalo. Good catch.