Head football coach Nick Saban of the University of Alabama and head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University were both paid over $7 million in the past year, according to USA Today.
Both coaches received salaries more than six times greater than the president of their respective university and over 40 times greater than that of an average professor at their university, according to an analysis by C-HIT.
This disparity in salaries among university employees and coaches draws mixed reactions.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” said sports fan and track athlete Jhan Spears of Hartford. “The dean of the university should be paid more than the coaches.”
Dom Amore, a sportswriter for The Hartford Courant, gave his reasons why football and men’s basketball coaches are paid more than other college employees.
“What determines your salary is leverage,” he said. “These coaches often have more leverage than other employees.”
At the University of Connecticut, Kevin Ollie, head coach of men’s basketball, is paid $3.1 million, USA Today reported. In comparison, even after a recent pay raise, UConn’s president, Susan Herbst, has a $585,000 salary, according to The Courant, or about $2.5 million less than Ollie’s.
Along with differences in salary between coaches of major men’s sports and academic employees, there are also differences in pay within the athletic department.
Coaches of football and men’s basketball are paid more than coaches of less popular sports. For example, according to the Tuscaloosa News, Saban earns over 59 times more per year than Todd Bramble, the head coach of men’s soccer for Alabama.
A disparity also exists between the salaries of coaches of men’s sports and coaches of women’s sports. The U.S. Department of Education reported that at UConn, the average salary of a men’s coach is more than 1.9 times greater than the average salary for women’s coach.
“I’m split on that,” Spears said of the gender pay disparity for college athletics. “I understand that football and basketball make more money than sports like girls’ track. People don’t really watch women’s sports.”
Men’s basketball and football are large sources of revenue for many universities, including UConn. The education department reported that these two sports brought in more revenue for UConn in the past year than all other varsity sports combined.
“Football and men’s basketball coaches are more valuable to their universities in monetary terms,” Amore said.
In addition to the revenue their sports produce, other factors contribute to the high salaries of football and men’s basketball coaches. These coaches are under scrutiny due to the high popularity of their sports. Also, “they have less job security, so as a result they have higher salaries,” Amore said.
Geno Auriemma, the head coach of women’s basketball at UConn, earns a $2.4 million annual salary, making him the highest paid coach in women’s basketball, ESPN reported. However, Ollie, with his $3.1 million salary, was only the 10th highest paid coach in last year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, according to USA Today.
The disparity in pay between coaches of major men’s college sports and other college employees remains a topic of controversy as people debate the morality of it.
“It’s business,” Amore said. “Business is not always fair.”
Ryan Handel is a student at Montgomery Blair High School, Maryland.