College Coaching “Salaries” Not As High As You Think

Last Updated on June 5, 2014

When I posted Ohio State’s football budget a few weeks ago, someone asked how total coaching salaries could be listed at $3.7 million when Jim Tressel was reportedly making approximately that much by himself at the time.

It’s because coaching “salaries” aren’t that high. Technically, only $652,000 of his compensation package is salary. The rest comes from shoe and apparel contracts, endorsements and other outside sources.

For example, Roy Williams at North Carolina makes approximately $1.6 million per year, according to the book Varsity Green. Only $260,000 of that is salary paid by the athletic department. The rest comes from a $3.9 million bonus being paid over five years by the Ram Club, a UNC booster club. He gets another $350,000 from broadcast revenue and $500,000 from Nike.

At the same time, the UNC football coach John Bunting was making $650,000 per year, with the athletic department paying just $260,000 in salary, and up to $300,000 with bonuses. The rest comes from radio, telelvision and Nike.  

This isn’t just happening at UNC, it’s the trend seen across college sports. Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tubberville received approximately $1.5 million per year from a multimedia rights deal Auburn had with ISP Sports for appearances on tv and radio and other personal appearances.

In most instances a college coach’s compensation package is only about 25% salary. The rest is funded from broadcasting and apparel deals and other outside sources.

Coaches also receive bonuses for various accomplishment and benchmarks from getting their team to the conference championship game to attaining certain graduation rates. These bonuses range from tens of thousands to over a hundred thousand. However, many are offset by the increased revenue the athletic department receives as a result of a team having a successful season or appearing in the postseason.

Check out my previous pieces on coaching salaries:

Are College Coaches Overpaid?

The Malzahn Effect

The Bob Huggins Factor

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