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November 11, 2009 - College football coaches see salaries rise in down economy

USA Today recently published several articles relating to rising cost of college football coaching salaries.  Their investigation of 2009 salaries found an annual compensation of greater than $2 million for more than 25 head coaches in the NCAA's highest competitive level, the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS); at least 56 coaches were earning greater than $1 million annually.  In 2006, 42 coaches were earning greater than $1 million per year and nine coaches were earning greater than $2 million per year.  The average pay for football coaches in the FBS was $1.36 million, an increase of 46% in the past three years.

The article highlighted the earnings of University of California at Berkley (UC) head football coach Jeff Tedford, whose $2.8 million compensation and $430 million improvements to the campus football stadium, Memorial Stadium, are seemingly in contrast to $150 million in state budget cuts, UC administration laying off faculty and staff, imposing furloughs, cutting back new enrollment, paring course offerings, and hiking students' tuition.  An additional article looked at the rising pay of Gary Pinkel, head football coach at the University of Missouri, whose $2.52 million guaranteed salary has quadrupled since 2000.  A third article presented information about Boise State University, in which the team's nine assitant coaches will earn a combined $1.58 million in 2009.  The assistant coaches compensation at Boise State University leads all schools belonging to athletic conferences that do not have an automatic Bowl Championship Series bid for the conference football champion.

In addition, at least 66 football assistant coaches were earning more than $300,000 per year and receiving such additional perks as supplemental income, performance bonuses, retention bonuses, cars, and complimentary tickets.  The investigation contrasted assistant football coaching salaries to last year's average salary for full professors at public doctoral universities of $115,509, according to the American Association of University Professors.

According to Knight Commission member Hodding Carter, "Here was a God-given opportunity in the forum of a true disaster to step up to the issue and finally say, 'Look, I don't care where the money is coming from. It is unseemly for one institution on (a) campus to be acting as though these were happy days forever while everybody else is getting it in the chops.' It's just too bad. It calls into question the commitment of much of the institutional leadership in higher education."

The investigation also considered the increased cost of football coaching compenstation despite how athletic departments are also attempting to balance their budgets through the reduction of athletics staff, fewer players and staff on athletic team road trips, and reduction in the subsidization of athletics.

To access USA Today's series of articles:

College football coaches see salaries rise in down economy

Missouri shows how schools pay a price for football success

Database of 2009 NCAA Division I FBS football coaches contracts

Boise State's success leads to financial security for assistants

Assistant football coaches see pay rise with unique clauses

Colleges deal with family ties on football coaching staffs