Recently there has been a huge debate over whether or not college athletes should be paid, but what about the controversy of how much college coaches are paid? In 2015 Alabama head coach Nick Saban received a salary of over $7 million, the highest paid head coach in college sports. This payout is meant to compete with NFL coaching salaries which are often over $6 million, the highest paid NFL coach being Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. However, universities spending so much money to pay coaches makes it seem as though the number one priority of an institution of higher education is, in fact, athletics.
Based on reports from the Washington Post, in 2013 the average college level professor made $126,981, not even half the salary of one of the lowest paid coaches, Louisiana-Monroe’s Todd Berry, a division two coach for a program with an overall record of 2-11. What’s more, president of the University of Alabama president Kellie Reinhart made $535,000, making one-thirteenth the salary of the head football coach. So what makes coaches of major university sports teams deserve ten-fold the pay of those who actually run the university and educate the students?
Studies by Jaren Pope, assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics at Virginia Tech, showed that when a men’s football or basketball team wins a national championship applications to the university increase by at least 7% for the next year. Based on this estimate the University of Alabama with 22,136 applicants for the 2015-16 school year, they should receive about 1,500 more applicants for the 2016-17 school year. This recruiting tactic can give a higher quality of student, often helping universities climb in rankings in individual programs and eventually help the school’s general rankings as well. Now while there is a correlation, well-established public schools like Georgia or Clemson, who have less national championships than Alabama, still consistently rank high in Forbes and other magazines. And the boost in revenue a school could gain from application fees could average anywhere from $60,000-$100,000, almost insignificant compared to how much it costs just to keep the doors to a university open.
Another thing to consider is the revenue that college sports – particularly football – bring in and spend, bring in every year based on factors of ticket sales, apparel, and concessions. Of all FBS schools, only 24 athletic programs produce more money than it costs to run each year. As this budget is paying for coaches, infrastructure and several other costs along the way. Yet, the highest paid position at most colleges is the head coach of the football team, with the only exceptions being Ivy League caliber schools such as Harvard and MIT. Jimbo Fischer is the fifth highest paid coach in the NCAA, but Florida State farms millions of dollars every year from the university, instead of the athletic department being autonomous, with the only team to make a positive margin being football.
Despite being responsible for bringing in money, eventually there could be a trickle-down effect taking money from the university, and who could eventually pay? Do we risk running the course to let tuition spike even higher than it is now? Or do universities pay coaches as they are? A fun accessory to the shining education students go to college for.
By GARRETT EICHER / Contributing Writer