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?


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Skip Oliva:

    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.

  4. OneEyedMan:

    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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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)

  9. 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.