Coaching Salaries at American Universities

The folks at Piled Higher and Deeper reflect on the distribution of salaries on campus:
None of this is surprising, of course, although it is both amusing and shocking in graphical form.   (Although grad students are making a whole lot more than they did in my day!) As I noted quite some back in a piece for TCS Daily, “Crimson with Envy: Why Nick Saban Makes More Than Your Kid’s Teacher,” the distribution is explainable by rather basic economics.

The supply of qualified PhDs is high while the supply of tenure-track jobs at PhD granting institutions is low.  Indeed, the average untenured professor salary of nearly $70,000 is probably higher than it should be and there really shouldn’t be such a thing as a tenured professor, let alone one making that much more than a freshly minted PhD.  Further, with few exceptions, hiring and retaining a superstar professor does little for the institution’s bottom line.

Conversely, there are only 128-odd Division I head football coaching jobs.  Luring one of the handful of them who is a proven winner can make a huge difference.  Indeed, the Saban piece has proven prescient, in that he has, in less than eighteen months, transformed Alabama’s program from a washed-up relic into a national championship contender.  Given what that can mean for the institution, he’s underpaid at $4 million.  (Thankfully for the Sabans, he has some side income to help him feed his family.)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Coaching Salaries at American Universities: The folks at Piled Higher and Deeper reflect on the distrib.. http://tinyurl.com/63e4zw

  2. glasnost says:

    Is this satire?

    Conversely, there are only 128-odd Division I head football coaching jobs.

    So what? There are only 128 University President Jobs at Division I colleges.

    Luring one of the handful of them who is a proven winner can make a huge difference.

    A huge difference to WHAT? to how many games the football team wins? Some of these universities receive federal tax money! Thank you, I don’t want my tax dollars to be used to subsidize college football.

    The point of the graph is that subsidized universities plow billions of dollars into pointless, yet popular activities while professors who perform acts genuinely valuable to the mission of the college get stiffed.

    No, I’m not a professor.

  3. glasnost says:

    The whole thing should be privatized. Grant athletic departments separate land and independent financing arms. Let them whip up their own donations directly… sell advertising spaces on uniforms.. whatever.

  4. James Joyner says:

    don’t want my tax dollars to be used to subsidize college football.

    As the linked article notes, football programs are independently funded and bring in enormous revenues for top schools. Saban isn’t being paid for with tax money, let alone federal tax money.

  5. rodney dill says:

    while professors who perform acts genuinely valuable to the mission of the college get stiffed.

    I think you misunderstand the mission of 99.9%+ of the universities… to raise revenue.

  6. Eneils Bailey says:

    Years ago, I remember a little known football coach from a small school making the following statement before he resigned.

    “I am coaching kids with the greatest football talents in the world. They can do anything in the world with a football except writing a simple declarative sentence on it. But, they keep showing up in my office with grades I know that did not earn. We are using them, then putting them out into the world without degrees where doing the forty in 4.5 is useless.”

    That’s paraphrasing, to the best of my memory.

    I agree.

  7. tom p says:

    Yeah, they bring in the bucks… which helps “uderwrite” the institution… which helps “underwrite” the education of their students… As Deep Throat said, “Follow the money.”

    But as Eneils quoted:

    “We are using them, then putting them out into the world without degrees where doing the forty in 4.5 is useless.”

    Sometimes, it just don’t make any sense.

  8. Herb Ely says:

    I’m reminded of the time when they asked Babe Ruth why he should earn more than the President. He said something like this – why not? I had a better year than he did.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    The salaries quoted are proportional to the revenues that can be attributed them and by that guideline the salaries are probably about right on relative terms. Football coaches bring in a lot of money—more than college presidents (whose primary job is fundraising).

  10. Nothing to see here, someone else opposed to people making free choices wants the authority to determine what other people should make, because their hearts and motives are purer, I guess.

  11. capital L says:

    Not to mention the fact that the people that loudly demand successful athletic programs are typically students and alumni. Oh those boorish proles and their desires. We can’t be having with that!

  12. markm says:

    Indeed, the Saban piece has proven prescient, in that he has, in less than eighteen months, transformed Alabama’s program from a washed-up relic into a national championship contender. Given what that can mean for the institution, he’s underpaid at $4 million.

    Until he blows out of there for the next gig in a year or two….but point taken.

  13. Christopher says:

    What a liberal you have to be to even post this!

    Plus, I can’t believe so many professors even make so much!

  14. sam says:

    What a liberal you have to be to even post this!

    Plus, I can’t believe so many professors even make so much!

    Given that you’ve obviously never heard a professor speak, I’m not surprised at you disbelief.

  15. superdestroyer says:

    A few facts to think about.

    Most schools lose money on football. Les than 20 schools make enough money to pay for the entire athletic department. If capital costs like arenas and stadium were included, no university would make money on sports.

    The head football coach is usually not an employee of the University but is really a contractor hired by the athletic foundation, a separate not-for-profit corporation set up to handle the money for the athletic department. How else do you think Notre Dame could fire Ty Willingham without the President of Notre Dame being involved.

    The graph compares salary with compensation packages. Most coaches get a compensation package that include summer camps, advertisements, endorsements, and media appearances (being paid for the coaches show and doing the banquet circuit.

    If you are going to look at non-tenure track professors, the compassion should be with assistant coaches.