Just a few years ago (six to be exact), there were 42 college football coaches earning over a million dollars per year. Now, there are 42 earning over $2 million. Everyone is getting wealthier from college sports except for athletes and their families, who are left off the gravy train.
This year, the average annual salary of college football coaches at major programs has risen to $1.64 million per year. This is a 12% increase from last year, far greater than the rate of inflation. But the number is not much different from the increases in tuition and student loans needed in order for students to compensate expensive coaching staffs.
The highest-paid coach in the country is Nick Saban at The University of Alabama. Saban earns $5.5 million per year. Mack Brown at Texas earns $5.4 million per year. These massive pay increases for football coaches comes at a time when universities are reducing their spending on instructional learning at many public institutions.
Steve Spurrier coaches South Carolina, the state’s other FBS school, and he makes nearly $3.6 million, including a raise of $750,000 since last season. How’d he get that raise? He asked for it.
Spurrier doesn’t bother with an agent — he used to have one but changed his mind after paying a commission one year — because he figures there’s no real need to negotiate.
“I’m not going to go anywhere,” Spurrier explains, and “if you’re negotiating, that means you’ve got somebody else bidding on you. But our university president here is such a wonderful guy. He just wants to do what’s fair and what’s right. … I just sort of penciled myself in about No. 6 out of 12 coaches in the SEC and he said, ‘That looks fair to me.’”
Spurrier is actually the third-highest paid in the Southeastern Conference, behind Alabama’s Nick Saban and LSU’s Les Miles.
South Carolina President Harris Pastides declined comment through a spokesman.
Swinney figures Spurrier is worth every penny: “He’s paid his dues. Coach Spurrier’s been a winner a long time. He’s won a national championship and he’s one of the best coaches out there. I hope 25 years from now, I’m still coaching.”
Spurrier says South Carolina offered him $1.5 million when he came in 2005, but, “I said, ‘Let me take $1.25 (million) and let me spend 250 grand on assistant coaches … So I’m one of the few coaches that took less than was offered.”
Today, his assistants make a little more than $2.4 million cumulatively, far below Clemson’s. First-year defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward is the highest paid at $550,000. He replaced Ellis Johnson, who made $700,000 last season.
“I actually call the plays and pretty much am the offensive coordinator here, although I’ve got a couple of co-coordinators,” Spurrier says. “So, you might say, ‘Well, he’s the head coach and the offensive coordinator. What’s that worth?’” He chuckles.
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