As you pick your bracket for March Madness, stop for a moment and ponder what some might describe as the madness of the coaches’ salaries. According to U.S. News & World Report, the highest-paid 25 college basketball coaches earn between roughly $2 million and $6 million per year. Those figures don’t include generous perks, such as private jets and housing allowances, or severance packages. There are millions more in bonuses for coaches who take their teams to the championships. And coaches can supplement that income with private endorsement deals, speaking fees, and summer camps.
While million-dollar-plus salaries are commonplace in professional sports, they are highly unusual in the world of higher education, where adjunct faculty and tenured full professors earn between $20,000 to $126,000. The average college president brings in $475,403. In fact, coaches are the highest-paid public employees in several states, including Kentucky and Kansas.
The high earning power of college coaches has for years been under scrutiny; John Oliver even devoted an entire segment last March to skewering college basketball for failing to pay its athletes while handing their coaches millions. A recent survey found that most Americans think that college coaches are overpaid. But public opinion and commentary by late-night talk-show hosts have done little to squelch those big numbers, which continue to rise over the years. One study found that the median compensation for men's head basketball coaches at NCAA's Division I-A schools went up by 102 percent between 2005 and 2011.