Thursday, December 06, 2007

Jaw-Dropping Compensation: $1m College Coaches

This year, for the first time, the average earnings of the 120 major-college football coaches hit $1 million, a USA TODAY analysis finds. That's not counting the benefits, perks and myriad bonuses in their contracts.

Four coaches — Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Alabama's Nick Saban, Florida's Urban Meyer and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz — already have cracked the $3 million mark, leading a spiral that shows no sign of slowing.

At least 50 coaches are making seven figures, seven more than a year ago, and up from only five in 1999. At least a dozen are pulling down $2 million or more, up from nine in 2006.

a link to a searchable compensation database for college football coaches, and here is a link to the latest AAUP report on faculty salaries (see Table 4).


1. Where's the outrage about this from college students? College students around the country often protest about the "unfairness" of low wages in foreign "sweatshops" making university apparel. Shouldn't they be protesting the "unfairness" of "excessive" football coach pay and relatively low ("sweatshop"?) wages for college professors? After all, the universities that the students attend pay their college professors with PhDs less than 10% of what they are paying the football coaches (see chart above).

2. AFL-CIO spokesman R. Trumka said “Workers are rightfully outraged when they learn about jaw-dropping executive compensation packages. It’s time to put the brakes on runaway CEO pay.”

Where's the outrage among UAW workers and taxpayers in states like Michigan where college football coaches at UM and MSU make $1 million to $1.5 million per year? Isn't it time to "put the brakes on runaway college football coach pay?"

3. Isn't rising compensation for college football coaches a perfect example of the rising income inequality over time that generates so much outrage? Certainly the gap in salaries between college coaches and college professors has risen over time, just as the gap in salaries between college professors and college secretaries has probably risen over time. An historical analysis would probably show an increasing share of total university payrolls going to the football and basketball coaches, or to the highest paid 1%, 5%, or 10% of university personnel (including presidents and deans).

Bottom Line: If the general public can understand that market forces ultimately determine the compensation of college football coaches, perhaps they can understand that market forces also determine CEO salaries; and since the salaries of both are rising over time, perhaps they can understand that rising income inequality is the natural and expected outcome of an increasingly competitive marketplace, which increasingly rewards scarce talent? One can always be hopeful.


At 12/06/2007 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would really, really love to see the reaction from the Michigan fan base if the AFL-CIO proposed to curb "exorbitant CEO compensation" for their newest vacant position.

At 12/06/2007 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

perhaps they can understand that rising income inequality is the natural and expected outcome of an increasingly competitive marketplace, which increasingly rewards scarce talent?

So based on your statements there should be no subprime mortgage crisis because the scare talent should have avoided this natural outcome of flawed practices.


You are absolutely correct and the fact that our own President does not earn more than a college football coach is an indication that any President will be less than optimal. This doesn't give me a lot of confidence in the future of the worlds largest economy.

At 12/06/2007 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If the future is anything like the past, Presidential earning power increases exponentially after they leave office. Accordingly, they could pay the taxpayers to be in office and still come out financially ahead. Past Presidents of the recent era did not die poor. Try booking former President Clinton for your next luncheon.

At 12/06/2007 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. CD, I totally agree with you. I wonder if you'd be willing to draw the same conclusion on Paulson's subprime bailout plan.

At 12/06/2007 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is worse, the value for professors is an average, not the median of all who actually teach students. Increasingly, students are taught not by professors but by part-time adjuncts who are paid a couple thousand dollars per class with no benefits.

At 12/06/2007 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Economics dictate that salaries. College coaches bring in more money by fielding quality teams. Big time recruits will go to a school to play for a coach. No students are making decisions based on who the professors of a school are.

At 12/06/2007 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say, first of all, that most college students are rather ignorant as to what their teachers and sports coaches are paid. Even if you had 100 well-informed students at an average university, you're only talking about a small fraction of students in the total population. Then, you have to overcome the "real life" and academic factors that otherwise diverts the student's energy and attention.

How much real activism is involved, when it comes to protesting sweatshop conditions overseas? It's not as if the majority of the students actually do anything, beyond a protest or a petition.

My point is that asking "wither the general student outrage" is going to be irrelevant for most issues that don't seem to directly, implicitly affect the lives and academic careers of the student body, especially if they don't have the pertinent information regarding something like these divergent salaries and their consequences at hand.

Meanwhile, it's also important to ask what is the actual value presented by college sports? Do they actually improve the average collegian's chances at a better education and career, or are they simply a closed cycle for generating monies mostly shared between the athletic department and the administration?

Most colleges operate in the manner I just described. A university focuses its attention on an athletic department, which generates money and a tribal identity that encourages alumni to donate to those schools. The university, in turn, uses that money to bolster... the athletic department. It's a system that generally leaves out most of the academic departments at a university.

If the schools that employ $1,000,000 coaches can't also assert that they have stellar programs in the sciences, arts, or humanities (or all three, for that matter), then what sort of benefit are they providing to the students? What sort of lasting value is present? I would argue that -- just as can be found with several other businesses that overvalue CEOs at the expense of their products -- there is no value, certainly not worth that expense. Such inflation will develop a bubble that will, inevitably, collapse.

At 12/06/2007 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No students are making decisions based on who the professors of a school are."

Really? Many of my friends, and I, went to the schools they did/ I do because of the professors at the departments, both in undergrad and grad school. As introspection isn't usually the best way to evaluate something, I'm wondering if you came to this conclusion from a study or something?

I wonder if the people in Ann Arbor will pick up on this... students are saying the AD should have paid LSU coach Les Miles anything he wanted to come to UM, yet they surely will protest executive compensation on the Diag the next day.

At 12/06/2007 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key here is "follow the money". Football coaches make that kind of pay because they bring in millions of dollars of revenue for the university - sometimes enough to pay for all of the non-revenue sports and more.

Of course there's also the intangible prestige that a successful program brings.

I don't understand why universities negotiate such that they have to buy out failed coaches' contracts for multimillions. One example - the University of Minnesota having to buy out both the football and men's basketball coaches - in the same year.

Well if you believe the marketplace is right, what this shows is that football coaches are worth a lot more than college professors.

Is the free market wrong?

At 12/06/2007 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at the whole picture. Big-time college athletics brings big-time $$$ to colleges. A successful football or men's basketball program is a net income stream. The cost of the coaching talent may be high, but the payoff is much greater. The example in the article (LSU football) has a profit margin of 67%! If that were your business, wouldn't you pay for the top talent to secure it?

At 12/07/2007 11:38 AM, Blogger slyguy183 said...

This is asinine. Football coaches bring in big revinues to colleges?? Why do students go to college in the first place? Probably at least 75% go for a good education and promise of a better future through this education. This is the MAIN DRAW of almost every college is it not? And who provides this draw? The PROFESSORS. To think that it is completely okay for football coaches to make so much more than professors is ridiculous. That may be the way things are now, but to say that is justified by the revinues brought in by football? Think about revenue brought in by the students!

At 12/07/2007 1:50 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12/07/2007 1:50 PM, Blogger km said...

Why would anyone complain, college football is the big dollar generator in college athletics. A good coach consistently winning and getting the team to bowl games is more than worth it.

A winning football team at a major university is a cash cow, to the tune of 5+ million a year in profits. (in some cases that '+' is huge)

Most major football programs support the entire athletic department and put money back into the general fund every year.

At 12/07/2007 1:50 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Colleges are businesses too. I suspect these coaches salaries are marketing dollars well spent.

At 12/07/2007 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow what an incredibly stupid argument. It's called a free market and if your talents are in demand you get paid more.

First of all that's great, let's pay our professors $1M and see how much tuition goes up. That's right, there is one head coach and 100s of professors at a campus. Secondly those Professors have a cushy tenure while coaches, with some execptions, are lucky to stay at a school for more than 3-4 years.

At 12/07/2007 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Time Coaches bring the Football programs much more money than they are paid. Trust me, they are worth every penny. Look at Nick Saban in Alabama. The guy put 93.000 people on the stands just for a spring practice! Lets say they each pay 10 dollars..930,000... thats almost a million.. Wow.. he already paid for almost a quarter of his salary ( the highest of any coach in NCAA ) in ONE SPRING PRACTICE!!!

At 12/07/2007 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is absolutely inane. comparing HEAD football coaches salaries to the average prof? Are you serious? More valid would be the average salary for the football coaching staff vs the faculty + Administration might have some weight, but this is meaningless.

At 12/07/2007 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would hope more than 75% of students go to college for the education. The real questions is how much more would it cost that 75% if their tuition wasn't supplemented by the revenue that sports brings in? Its also probably not fair to compare the average college professor to a head coach of a big time football program. How much does the dean of law at Harvard make? This would be a better comparison.

At 12/07/2007 1:57 PM, Blogger Mr. Schwartz said...

College football coaches work 20 times harder than professors. They almost never get a day off, always having to go out on recruiting trips, and dealing with boosters and the media 24/7.

Tenured college professors might teach 3 classes a semester.....

At 12/07/2007 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a graduate of Oklahoma, I can say that the money the athletic department earns is spent in the athletic department. No university money is given to athletics; athletics is self sufficient. Matter of fact, there have been several occasions over the last few years where the AD gave money to the university. And, several years ago, Oklahoma increased the cost of tickets $2 to fund a scholarship for students due to the rise in tuition.

At 12/07/2007 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its not entirely true that football coaches bring in more cash.

Students who graduate and are successful in the gloabal marketplace do attribute their success to their academic training. So, any alumini donations/endowments are a direct result of the efforts of the college professors. In any cases (for eg. USC) this is much much more than the annual income from football programs. In some cases these grants run into tens of millions if not hundreds.
An argument could be made that the profs needs to see a percentage of this. The problem is that this money is re-invested into the university (new buildings etc) and the profs that did teach the students who went on to be a success are probably retired.

Bottomline, its a delayed return but its not not true to presume that profs don't bring it anything. it may be unclear as to how they can beneft from their efforts though.

At 12/07/2007 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Thraxamer and others:

I am a recent graduate of a Pac 10 University. I, along with all of my friends at school, were quite aware of what football coaches, teachers, and administrators made in salary. Why didn't we protest? Let me tell you why:

If football coach salaries were dropped down to the level of professor salaries, and if that money saved was distributed to students, I would only save me $18 a year. And besides, we all know that money would never trickle down to students anyway.

College students aren't dumb. When we decide to protest, we make sure it counts. Sweatshop labor? You bet, and we do more than just sign petitions. Not a single T-shirt has been sold at my university in the past two years that wasn't made by a company with a great environmental and human rights record. That includes the millions of shirts distributed by fraternities, alumni groups, and school clubs.

Expecting student outrage on the issue of football coach salaries is silly. Why would a student be enraged that a professor only makes $95k a year, when students can barely find minimum wage jobs? From where I sit, being a professor isn't all that bad.

At 12/07/2007 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the coaches are responsible for the cash cow that is the football team. Think how much the University gets in terms of ticket sales and merchandising.

The coaches who perform well bring in huge money for the school and are compensated accordingly. Kinda like a how a corporation runs. What sucks is our state of education because the schools are in the business of making money, not pure education.

At 12/07/2007 2:06 PM, Blogger Bryan said...

As far as bringing in money goes, the money that an athletic department brings in goes directly to the athletic fund. Academic departments rarely see the revenue.

At 12/07/2007 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the dumbest and least informed blog posts I have ever read. If you had even the SLIGHTEST clue you would know that College football Coaches (and most types of coaches that are any good at that level) basically live what they coach.

They put in tons and tons of hours all the time and really couldn't take time off even if they wanted to. I can't say that I know of the life of most professors but I will bet everything I have that they don't put anywhere near the time a college football coach does.

At least get the slightest bit of a clue before acting like the world is such a terrible place because someone who works 80+ hours a week, works weekends, and has tons of pressure to succeed on them is getting paid well.

At 12/07/2007 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny that this was written by a self-important college professor who basically brings nothing to his university and is not in short supply and is easily replaced.

At 12/07/2007 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Schwartz said...

College football coaches work 20 times harder than professors. ...Tenured college professors might teach 3 classes a semester.....

You're woefully uninformed on what professors do and how long they work. Teaching usually represent only 30-40% of a faculty member's responsibility. Nowadays, it's pretty standard to NOT get tenure until you can bring in the big bucks/prestige (ie, scholarly books, $1 million research grants, etc). It is the indirect costs of grants that pay for much of the university infrastructure (staff salaries, etc).

But Brian also made a good point about adjunct faculty (which at some institutions do up to 75% of all the teaching) -- only getting paid $2000-5000/class with few/no benefits.

At 12/07/2007 2:16 PM, Blogger Miller said...

That's a seriously flawed argument and the pay is totally dependent on the program and situation.

At Clemson, for example, Tommy Bowden just got a raise to about $2 million a year. The football program brought in $52 million dollars this year alone, which pays for every other men's and women's sport in the athletic department and then some.

The buyouts are for recruiting, so that recruits don't have to hear about some big time donor pulling a string to get the coach fired in case of one bad season. That job security goes a LOOOOONG way with recruiting.

Plus, if you end up with a crappy coach, attendance falls, alumni morals decrease, likely donations and outside involvement with the university decreases, and believe it or not, student applications decrease (and no I'm not kidding).

At 12/07/2007 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Injustice? Maybe. How many of those college professors are bringing in the money? A winning team sells clothing, concessions, seats (ticket sales), merchandise, etc. A coach that puts his team on the map, makes them great. People pay to watch great teams. Maybe it is justified. The athletes who play on the feild should be the ones outraged.

Maybe you have a Ph.D, MBA, MD, or whatever other set of initials you can tack on to the end of your name. But until realize that business is business... and sales equal dollars, you probably won't see your bank account matching theirs.

At 12/07/2007 2:20 PM, Blogger Bryan said...

Ok, we have collectively established the fact that college sports is a huge monetary generator for colleges, agreed. Big time programs bring big time numbers, agreed. And to do this you have to have a top team, agreed.

Lets look at alumni donations; do donating alumnus, when traveling back to campus, go to a sports program or the next lecture on mass spectrometry and bone density decay rates in zero gravity? I am thinking sports, 99%, and when they go, they want to win! To win you have to have top talent, to have top talent you have to have a top notch coach. To be that coach you have to earn it. Please read on:

Now, I do think college professorship is low paying compared to a college coach, but lets be honest with ourselves, IN AMERICA, being born winning the lottery already, YOU CHOOSE YOUR CAREER GOALS, YOU ACCOMPLISH THOSE GOALS, AND YOU HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION PREVIOUS IN GOING INTO THAT CAREER, including pay! If it's all about the money, maybe a choice of a more lucrative career would of been a better road to travel.

As for the position of the president:

1) To be come president: Millions of dollars at your dispense and a life long political agenda.

2) What about pay: Afterward you will reap the reward of being a worldwide figure (leverage), use the leverage, get paid!

3) And: Being written down in history long after your death. (priceless)

I do not think pay is what a president is concerned with.


and I cannot wait to see my fellow BIG TEN football teams with this bowl season!

At 12/07/2007 2:30 PM, Blogger Mike said...

This post is comparing apples to oranges. With respect, college professors do not face anywhere near as much responsibility and pressure as these highly paid coaches do. A regent for U Mich, who runs a multi-national company, once told me that his job does not even compare to the pressures of coaching. There is no single college professor who faces the critical nature of the public while being expected to perform in such a competitive environment.

Being an economics professor, you should understand that many of these highly paid coaches pay for themselves through the fan support they create for the school. If you want to complain about disparity, then focus on the value this country places on sports over academics in the entertainment world. No one will listen to you though.

The real tragedy is that while these coaches are being paid very well for bringing quality players to the school, the players get nothing. Many of them get used up without ever going pro. The fact that they still play is a statement for the power of the game. How many students would still enroll in college if their chances of getting a job after graduating were the same as a player's chances of going pro?

By the way, 94K / year is pretty damn good compensation, especially considering the freedoms that college professors enjoy.

At 12/07/2007 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what brings in more money?

college tuition paid by 50,000 students at a big football school like ohio state or LSU... or is it the football teams television deals, sponsorship, advertising, and ticket sales? the money goes out where it comes in. if your program makes millions u can earn it. when a school starts charging each student $500,000 a semester give the professors million dollar deals

At 12/07/2007 2:43 PM, Blogger James Marino said...

If the NFL (and NBA) would stop treating the NCAA as their minor league system, this would not be an issue. If those leagues were to form minor league systems, the money would follow -- leaving college sports to "student-athletes"... with emphasis on "student".

Don't believe this is true? You don't see college baseball coaches making this money.

Basically, the market is working perfectly given the atmosphere that has been allowed to develop.

At 12/07/2007 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're kidding right? this whole article is one big non sequitur.

boosky's got it right - the Athletic Departments of schools pay their coaches, not the college itself. the AD makes money from merchandise, television deals, ad space in their programs, tickets and rich alumni (among many other things) - none of which is the college.

colleges make money from tuition. just as football tries to get to the optimum level of fans with their butts in the seat and buying jerseys, colleges are shooting for an optimum number of students to fund the college and its buildings, maintenance staff, professors, etc. most of this money comes from tuition, alumni, grants, etc. some tend to forget that education is a business.

you could also make the point that each college only has one head football coach. does each college only have one professor? something tells me that if there were as many head coaches at one school as professors, maybe they'd be paid just a bit less. then again, we don't even have to go into that logic because it makes as little sense as the original article.

how dull does one have to be to see that these things cannot even be realistically compared?

At 12/07/2007 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

***or, i guess i meant to say how dull do you have to be to think that these two things can be realistically compared?

At 12/07/2007 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the average person who protests such things is a complete fool.

At 12/07/2007 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when was the last time 80,000 people showed up to watch a kid do a damn chemistry experiment? - the program.

At 12/07/2007 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an undergraduate student in economics, I know you just cannot compare professor salaries to salaries of top coaches.

First, a better comparison would be with across the board salaries for athletic or at the very least football staff at these school.

Otherwise you should just consider the top academic at the top 100 educational institutions. AND there are a few university presidents and deans of law and medical school that make a considerable sum. - Especially if you look at certain professors who can go out an consult and bring in additional money.

Also as many other posters have pointed out, many school have athletic budgets that are independent of the academic side of the school - so it not as if that coaches are taking money away from professors.

The real question is how such an argument could be valid in any economic class.

At 12/07/2007 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight, you're comparing 3rd world country sweatshop employees (who often work in unbearable conditions) to university-educated Americans who are earning +$90k/year ?

I'm sorry that these professors are unable to buy their SUV of choice with the paltry income, but these professors are educated and can take care of themselves. People in other countries that aren't able to fend for themselves; these are the people whom the students are protesting for.

At 12/07/2007 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems about right, have you tried comparing the salaries of universities with popular sports teams with well-known technical universities, kinda like Michigan vs. M.I.T.? Or Ohio State and CalTech?

If the numbers are still the same, I can see how it validates your argument. If they do not, well, it's further proof of this grey society we live in. I can understand how frustrating it must be to be tenured at a university whose claim to fame is the number of NFL/NBA stars born there. Your salary example is just a microcosm of society as a whole, its wants and needs, its morals and values.

I think there are a few of us who cannot wait for the day when we read about coaches who are peeved over the salaries of their "over-paid" professors because of the number of nobel-winning doctors/scientists they churn out.

Damn those ivory tower jerks and their disease-curing revenues!

At 12/07/2007 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are missing a HUGE point...the school's only pay around 200,000 of the coach's salary...the remaining, oh, 1.5 million - 2 million comes from private BOOSTER money...this money has ZERO ties to the school or the school's student body.

Again, learn how the system works before you bitch about it like a poon democrat

At 12/07/2007 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm more curious on how it got up there.

And to be more fair, this sort of wage comparison should be compared to the university president, highest paid deans or other similar executive positions.

Also what is the mean of the college coach wage so we don't count a few exceptional superstars (and super losers) to skew the real trend?

At 12/07/2007 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I worked in admissions at a private university. Sports is one of the top 3 draws to the vast majority of schools.

You want somebody to blame, blame 18 year olds who see sports programs as a defining characteristic in what school they choose to go to.

At 12/07/2007 3:27 PM, Blogger Pat said...

Is your sample of professors' salaries from those 120 schools, or is that a nationwide figure? If it's just from those 120 schools, then that is quite an interesting analysis.

If not, it simply doesn't work because of poor sampling. Judging strictly from your post, it would appear your numbers are skewed, thus the lack of outrage is simply because your apparent discrepancy isn't as great as you make it out to be.

Even if it's just those 120 schools, you're simply doing a part-to-whole comparison, since it doesn't include all high-paying schools like the Ivy League and good tech schools.

At 12/07/2007 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, at UM at least, football coaches are just more important people. When the football program graduates one-third of its African-American players, and the university shows no signs of doing anything about it, or even caring that it's happening, it becomes pretty clear just where academics in general and professors in particular fall on UM's list of priorities.

At 12/07/2007 3:45 PM, Blogger mynameisgabe said...

From what I understand, football brings in a lot of money from alumni, fans, etc. A single typical game's revenue probably dwarfs that of an entire semester's revenue brought in by a college professor.

Besides, $100k isn't sweatshop wages - it's well over the national average salary.

At 12/07/2007 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The argument in this article is flawed to begin with. You’re comparing the average professor to the head football coach. There are hundreds or even thousands of professors at each school compared to 1 head football coach. Most of the assistant coaches make far less. A better comparison would be football coach vs. school chancellor, president, or even deans but not professors.

Also, look at the real economic impact. Dividing the $1,000,000 salary amongst say your 1000 best professors would yield $1000 or ~1% raise. Not very much.

At 12/07/2007 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Learn a little before making such a post.

Most big-time programs are self-sufficient. They do not take a single dollar from academics. In fact, they usually give money to academics.

Additionally, the big-time sports such as football and basketball fund all the other non-revenue sports such as women's soccer, men's lacrosse, etc.

As someone else suggested, a much more fair comparison would be to compare the salary of the average football staff member to the average professor.

It's nice to think of what could be done if all that money went to academics. But guess what? It's not going to. For starters, the majority of the revenue comes from TV. Good luck on getting ESPN to show an economics final instead of the BCS championship game. Secondly, it's been shown time and time again, across the nation and world that people are more willing to donate money to their entertainment than academics. Want to raise property taxes for schools? Doesn't pass. Want to raise it to build a new stadium? Passes.

Finally, when a professor can get 90,000 to show up for a history lecture, he'll have the right to complain he's not making $2 million a year.

At 12/07/2007 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pardon me if I am wrong, but weren't the points that Students protest against sweatshop pay but not professor pay AND they complain about high CEO salaries but not high Coaching salaries?

My rebuttals (coming from a Pac-10 campus): professor salaries are sufficiently above the median income that they cannot be called 'sweatshop pay' with a straight face. I hear more students complain about the excessive sports salaries than excessive business salaries.

This level of thought seems appropriate for an economist.

At 12/07/2007 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know why coaches are paid so much? Not to impress the incoming students. They are usually broke and only have enough to pay for books/room/food only. The real target here is the Alumni. Those that have gone on to big paying jobs that have the "disposable income" to drop to see their colleges' name in the news once they've moved on and moved away from their college. For example, the (idiot) billionaire T. Boone Pickens has donated over 290,000,000 (that's Millions) to the Oklahoma State University. pathetic

At 12/07/2007 5:05 PM, Blogger nik said...

A University Professor's salary and benefits is a far cry from that of a sweatshop worker.

At 12/07/2007 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The really outragous thing is that universities continue to make all of this money on the backs of college football who don't get paid a single dime for their work.

Even undergraduate research assistants get paid a few bucks an hour for their work. College football players fund million dollar salaries for their coaches and bring in millions for the university as a whole, but if you so much as buy them a sandwich, you're breaking the rules.

At 12/07/2007 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you think the Professors get the nice labs they work in? I don't see any 3 credit hour lectures that draw +60k each week?

At 12/07/2007 5:34 PM, Blogger Chance said...

This is the most ridiculous thing I have read in the last hour. Each school has 1 head football coach. And they have hundreds of professors. The economic impact a good head football coach can have on a school is astronomical. They more than pay for their salary by recruiting good student-athletes and winning. I think this blog post is pathetic. Go cry in your beaker.

At 12/07/2007 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A market finds a price based on what the participants are willing to pay and to accept in payment. If the participants are irrational, then the market will produce irrational valuations.

If I was applying to college right now, I'd take the average salary of the coaches at Cal Tech and MIT and use that as a ceiling value. If a college is paying its coaches more than that, it's pandering to an idiot Alumni community and probably making other idiot decisions.

At 12/07/2007 6:02 PM, Blogger WTDT said...

By the way, the professor salary figure is skewed by people who teach in fields like medicine, law, actuarial sciences, etc., where the salary for jobs outside of academia is artificially high and the number of people in the field is low. These people are called "professor" (and are) but they're not a large portion of the whole.

At a given university, an associate professor of history might be making $65,000, an associate professor of physics might be making a little bit more, and someone at the equivalent rank in the med school could be making $300,000.

At 12/07/2007 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ignorant and incomplete articles like this serve as a helpful proof as to why coaches make more than professors... Because even with a degree some students just can't seem to learn to think a problem through.

As many posters haves noted, college football and basketball programs bring revenue and prestige to the universities they represent. The excess money, in turn, is often placed in the university's general fund which pays for other sports under Title IX and those cherished liberal arts and diversity programs. Without sports these programs might have to actually have to earn money to support themselves... do you really want the market to put a value on these programs? I didn't think so.

Oh and let's not forget what happens when a coach doesn't perform... they get canned. What happens when a tenured professor doesn't perform (be it in teaching, publishing or researching)... absolutely nothing. It is completely unreasonable for a person making $94,000 (which is well above the national average for a family) to expect to make more while being guaranteed employment for life.

At 12/07/2007 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, this is why I decided to go to a small urban college which does not have a football team.

Perhaps some of you should do that too. I'll enjoy my nice classes of 15 people.


At 12/07/2007 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all those people saying that this is the free market in action, and that they are paid that because they bring in so much money: I wonder how many of you know/care that that money is also earned tax-free. And care about the players not getting paid anything. After all, there would be no revenue stream at all, without them.

And before you respond about the players getting an education and/or them getting ready for the big leagues, consider a) the majority, especially for football, do not graduate. And b) the vast majority (something like 99%) do not go on to the big leagues.

At 12/07/2007 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so what's going to happen when
professors stop teaching due to the
salary inequalities ?

Who is going to WANT to become a
professor if the pay ( in comparison
to the coach ) is so low ?

Here's a tip: You NEED educated
students far more than you need a
football team.

No educated students = low paying
jobs = no one buying overpriced
football tickets to pay your coach

While not as extreme, high school
suffers the same issues. If a
teacher makes $40-60k year, the
football coach is pulling in at
least twice that. At least.

In the US, education takes a back
seat to entertainment. Someday,
that is really going to come back
and haunt us.

At 12/07/2007 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couple of points. Most tenured or tenure-track faculty are not paid a salary for 12 months. Typically they are only guaranteed a salary for the 9 months they are teaching classes. So that $94k quickly drops to $70k. Many are only paid quarter to half time and are expected to make up the rest by getting grant money, which is not easy to come by. As for "not working as hard as a football coach", I typically put in 10-12 hour days 5 days/week running my lab, teaching, preparing lectures, grant writing, reading scientific literature so I don't become obsolete, writing scientific paper and faculty meetings. On my "weekends" I do more of the same. Telling me that I don't work as hard as a football coach is ignorant and insulting. Yes, those of you spouting off comments of which you know NOTHING, are ignorant. Look it up, it is not nearly the insult you think it is, but it is appropriate in this case. By the way, I'm not paid anywhere near the $70k average over 9 months. If you include only the hours I work during the week, I make ~$21/hour. For the mathematically challenged, that means that if I include the hours during the weekend that I work, I make ~$17/hour. Don't tell me I am overpaid.

At 12/07/2007 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why professors teach. They do not understand business and more often than not, are HUGE failures in the real world.

They have to stick to acadamia because they are worthless when trying to apply their flawed theories.

At 12/07/2007 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So based on your statements there should be no subprime mortgage crisis because the scare talent should have avoided this natural outcome of flawed practices.

This comment was awesome and I thank you for it. Unintentionally, you gave me a little chuckle.

Other than the fact that they work at the same places, Coaches and professors have little in common. Let's face it. Professors are mostly fungible. It's not that there aren't great "teachers" out there, that professors don't sometimes have profound effects on people, that professors aren't good for society. It's just that even the best professors are a dime a dozen. Anyone can do it. It's silly to think otherwise. It really is the one white collar profession that any conscious person can do.

Coaches are not fungible. A good coach can bring in huge amounts of money for a school. A bad coach can derail the gravy train. No professors (not a single one, no matter how famous) have this effect. Coaches are also often the most visible spokespersons for their school and an important source of entertainment for the student body and public at large. Coaches also work in a high stress, kill-or-be-killed atmosphere. If they don’t perform right away they’re fired. I can’t think of a single school that doesn’t offer tenure. Once you’re tenured, you’re nearly impossible to fire; your mediocrity will be rewarded for as long as you desire.

There is a reason that there is a huge difference in pay and it is absolutely comical that you can't see this, think it's bad, and think it should be artificially changed. This, however, is probably why you're a professor—it’s not that you lacked the drive and ambition to go out there and make more money (since you obviously want to), you just lack that capacity. Oh I’m sure you like the kids, but “those who can…” etc.

Bandwidth sellers really should IQ test before they sell to just anyone--some of this ignorance is flat out dangerous.

At 12/08/2007 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to lack common sense. Professors work probably 3-6 hours per week in the classroom, perhaps another 4 for office hours. College football coaches spend 365 days a year recruiting, preparing gameplans, setting up practices, and attempting to improve their program.

You better believe that a good football program with high visibility will bring in a lot more students than any professor will. Go up to any student and ask them how many professors they can name nationally. Then go ask the same person how many college football coaches they can name.

Professors also do not bring in millions of dollars of revenue for a school. If anything, tuition is lower for students because universities are able to offset costs with a football program.

Why don't you stop and use your head for a second.

At 12/09/2007 5:46 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Yes the coaches get paid insane amounts of money. But football brings in a ton of money to the college. From TV to ticket sales, from wealthy alumni that donates out of pride for their school. If alumni gave more money for Nobel prizes then wins of sports teams, then things would be different.

At 12/10/2007 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't you all missed the point. The article says that the coaches salaries ARE justified and just demonstrate the market forces of economics. Read the bottom line section...

At 12/10/2007 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who talks about market forces driving salaries at a state university is using the wrong paradigm. A state university like Ohio or FSU is not a business and making a profit is not included in its mission. Its absurd to say that the market will drive salaries at a state institution when that institution is part of the government sector that is free from market pressures.

One other point. Both college professors and coaches work hard. My colleagues in the humanities work on average 60 hours a week, including grading on nights and weekends (people forget that even though a professor is not on campus, he or she is still probably working from home doing class preparation, grading, etc.), and I am sure our coach spends an exorbitant amount of time working off-campus. But what about the student players who are the real money makers for the athletic departments. Why aren't they paid? A better system than the current one would be to professionalize the football team as a minor league program for the NFL that is only associated with a given college. Athletes would not be required to be students (though they could be if they chose, but no scholarships). The program would be a for profit business that pays the college for use of facilities, their name, merchandising, etc. Then players and coaches would be paid according to market value and the college's can use the extra money for academic scholarships or salary increases for professors and staff.

At 12/10/2007 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time for somebody to take Econ 101. This is a completely trivial and irrelevant post.

At 12/10/2007 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the point though that by definition the coaches jobs are NOT free from market forces despite being in a government funded sector. The football programs are effectively market driven because there are few people to fill the top roles who will be a draw for players etc and that becuase the program generates a huge cash surplus it is essential to pay the going market rate to secure those prized individuals. We might argue that a football coach should not be a market driven position but the reality appears to be otherwise.

I agree with your plan to make football a non-academic part of the universities though. At present "scholars" who are sportsmen get tuition breaks and forced to do courses they have no interest in as a route to the NFL dream - why not just say "you don't need to study we just want you to play ball really, really well". Of course then those that don't make it will have no academic quals to fall back on.

At 12/10/2007 12:28 PM, Blogger Chris Wilson said...

Chew on this:

1) Football Coaches do bring in a lot of revenue to colleges. What do most alumni come back for? Rivalry games during home coming weekend.

Also, think about every jersey or sports t-shirt sold. That's because of a successful sports program. Go to a big sports school like Ohio State and you'll see what I'm talking about.

2) Professors are expected to bring in money to the university through GRANTS. It is expected while doing research on a grant, the professor shall draw a (modest) salary for himself. Just like he uses that grant money to fund his graduate students, he also uses it to fund his lifestyle. No one will have sympathy if you spend too much money from the grant on yourself and not enough getting results.

One professor I knew was administering (supervising) 3-4 grants. On top of his $100,000/year salary from the university, he drew $40,000/year from these grants to supervise them and review their work. He also had a research grant himself, of which he was taking about $300,000 out of for his salary. (It was a LARGE, multi-million dollar grant, and he easily had 10-12 of the department's best grad students working on it.)

So this professor was essentially making over half a mil a year. I don't see that being too bad.

At 12/10/2007 1:11 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Not for nothing, but comparing an average $94k salary to "sweatshop" labor salaries is pretty ridiculous. A nearly six figure salary is hardly going to put most people below the poverty line.

At 12/10/2007 1:19 PM, Blogger M said...

There is a great documentary about this on PBS lately "Big Time Losers".

Basically college sports is a disaster. Colleges actually spend more on it than they make, only a few schools are profitable on it, and the net result is the dumbing down of our students and culture. Sports is a giant waste of time and money and has NOTHING to do with the purpose of a University.

This is a serious problem which we must deal with but as the people in the documentary say, it's hard to imagine the will to stop it arising significantly.

At 12/10/2007 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike a lot of other sports, college football is one where the head coach has a huge impact on the success of a team. (Jeff Tedford at Cal, Paul Johnson at Navy/Georgia Tech, etc.)

Now how important is it for some schools to field quality football teams? Very.

The obvious is revenue generation for the University, which benefits ALL programs and academics, not just sports. Revenue generated by football in particular is in the tens of millions for schools. Just as there are only about 100 coaches nationally who have the ability to command big salaries, there are elite professors who also command salaries well above the mean. A more apt comparison might be to look at ALL coaches in college football rather than just the Division I coaches. (I highly doubt that the head coach of Washington University in St. Louis is making $1MM)

Aside from the revenue generated, there was a study done about the quality of students who apply to universities with winning football teams. They found that basketball success had little to do with the quality of applicants but successful football programs drew a higher quality academic candidate-base to the university.

$1MM is a cheap price for harvesting tens of millions in revenue and driving up the overall quality of the academics of the university. That's something that few professors can claim.

At 12/10/2007 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No students are making decisions based on who the professors of a school are."

Are you crazy, of course they do! Not for undergraduate degrees, but everyone in academia knows undergraduate degrees aren't what make universities, it's their graduate programs (and apparently their football teams :/ )

At 12/10/2007 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's just separate the athletics from the university. Call it a community or town team. Let both stand on their own.

At 12/10/2007 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post but you have messed up your sweatshop metaphor. The laborers in that metaphor are the collage football players. Making pennies on the dollar compared to the Athletic Department, Coach, University or even the NCAA. Additionally those players are not allowed to unionize and can end up with no degree. Even in a best case scenario some players get a degree but many have lifelong physical ailments. These same players have no recourse to seek compensation for these physical ailments that result directly from participation in football.

Meanwhile the profits continue to grow and the Coaches get richer all on the backs of those cattle…er…young people we call college athletes.

At 12/10/2007 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Athletics is a big part of college. I played a minor sport at USC. We had a large number of player do to fielding a JV team. Our team was saved by fund raising and the number of student that might of gone elsewhere to school had it not been for the Water Polo team.
I later finished my degree at a D III school. None of the athletes were on scholarship for any sport. Yet football on Saturday was still a big part of campus life. Student activities are important to the campus no mater what the scale is. If we ended college sports I feel a part of college would be lost. Yes things can be fixed. College sports will always be larger then minor league sports just for the community pride factor. And why would the NFL pay to put together a development league?

At 12/10/2007 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with this, it's an issue of track-ability and time-line.

The time-line for return is nearly immediate for sports (ticket sales, goodwill, alumni sports donations) but in academics, tougher to track with much longer return cycles.

For example, what would be the financial performance of say Stanford's Engineering department per student over 30 years or Harvard's Business school? Who gets the "ticket price" when graduates start say Google. What was the influence of the professors of Larry and Sergei? the department? the school?

Because academic contributions are not immediate or directly tracked (for compensation) it's not a fair comparison to sports, but clearly there is a return there that powers every industry dollar in the US.

The only difference is the ticket sales goes to the stock holders and not to the schools.

At 12/11/2007 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you people had a clue on how Athletic programs work. Maybe the writer of this article should do some real research instead of reading and reacting. The Athletic budgets comes from a completely different pool and is MOSTLY funded by boosters and it's own earnings. The University of Texas football program alone earns about 20-30 million a year and HELPS pay for all the other sports that nobody wants to watch or care to pay to see. Finally enrollment and recognition follows successful football programs at major universities. These head coach salaries are insane, but for what these programs are earning on their own, completely independent of tax payer money, they justify themselves. What you SHOULD be outraged about is that the players get NONE of that money, but that would take some understanding of what's going on and research, which clearly you don't do much of...based on this article.

At 12/11/2007 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, the head coaches salaries are insane, especially when you consider most of their assistant coaches are lucky to break $200k. However, the constant pull from professional sports is what is doing this and it is going to continue no matter what we do or say/protest.

At our local public school (Univ of Illinois), I believe the coaches salaries are paid out of alumni fund raising activities, not taxes. So I doubt you can fight this based on outrage of spending public money on it.

At 12/12/2007 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the book, "Beer and Circus." It'll give a different perspective on sports and college. But ya know, it's written by one of them "professors who fail in the real world because they don't understand business."

At 12/13/2007 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a lot of money, but coaches aren't very important. Isn't this supply and demand failing?

At 1/21/2008 5:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who else thinks that sport has gone too far? I mean there is so much money involved in sport now that there is very little sport left anymore. Sport spread betting used to be frowned upon when I was a kid as it made people desperate for money to bet with but now it’s nothing compared to how disgraceful a footballer’s salary is! These people train a few times a week and play one game a week if they’re lucky and get paid a week more than I earn a year! And yet no authority has ever questioned it! Why!? There’s a minimum wage, why can’t there be a maximum wage as well based on the type of job? So all you betters out there, why don’t you start spread betting on how much players are going to be paid next instead of what used to be sport?

At 1/25/2008 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2/06/2008 2:48 PM, Blogger Richard said...

I don't think this should be very surprising to many people. I agree with some of the posters below, it has a lot to do with the amount of dollars these football programs generate.

On the flip side of this, I think another argument can be made. Considering the amount of money these programs pull in, some would say coaches are still underpaid. And what about the players? Not saying that amateur athletes should be paid but something doesn't seem right about these kids basically being exploited and getting NOTHING out of doing so much for these institutions.

I think the whole thing is further complicated because people still look at college football as amateur/school athletics. It has become a billion dollar "business" that has reached huge corporate status.


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