Monday, July 26, 2010

Do Big Ten Coaches Make Too Much?

In a world of highly paid college coaches, how much is too much? Is there even a too much?

That answer likely depends on whether you’re on the receiving, giving or watching end of the salary equation.

How is it that Indiana’s Tom Crean will make $2.16 million this year while most people won’t make that much in a 40-year career. Is the system screwed up? Does it need major fixing, as some suggest. Is there a problem when some schools have athletic budgets of over $100 million, with projections boosting that to $200 million in another decade, with more and more of that going for coaches salaries?

Some would say that this is capitalism at its best, supply and demand, market meeting talent, the going rate for elite coaches in an elite conference. Shaky job security demands high compensation, although you could argue that high compensation lessens job security by increasing win-or-else pressure.

In other words, these are deep questions requiring deep answers that won’t come easily or in this blog.

For now let’s take a look at the guaranteed income for Big Ten coaches in football and basketball. Keep in mind this doesn’t include bonuses or any other perks, which can substantially boost these already substantial salaries.

Who do you think is the highest paid coach (football or basketball) in the Big Ten?

If you guessed Crean and his $2.16 million haul, you would be wrong. He’s not even close. The highest-paid coach, in fact, is not in basketball.

No, it’s not Penn State’s Joe Paterno, the winningest football coach in major college history who seemingly first started coaching when the Great Pyramid in Egypt was built. He only makes $1 million a year. Again, that doesn’t include incentives, which can include going to a bowl game, winning a Big Ten or national title, or a team GPA above, say, 3.0.

The highest paid Big Ten coach is Ohio State’s Jim Tressel, who makes $3.4 million a year to run the Buckeyes football program. Second place goes to Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz and Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo. Both make $3 million annually.

Can you guess who is the lowest paid Big Ten coach?

The answer is Penn State basketball coach Ed DeChellis, who comes in at $642,000. That’s just ahead of Indiana football coach Bill Lynch at $658,750.

Only two Big Ten football coaches make less than a million dollars a year -– Lynch and Purdue’s Danny Hope ($900,000). DeChellis is the only Big Ten basketball coach to make less than $1.1 million a year.

Here is, in order, the annual salary of all the Big Ten basketball coaches for next season: Izzo, Ohio State’s Thad Matta ($2.4 million), Crean, Minnesota’s Tubby Smith ($1.8 million), Michigan’s John Beilein ($1.6 million), Illinois’ Bruce Weber ($1.5 million), Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan ($1.5 million), Purdue’s Matt Painter ($1.325 million), Iowa’s Fran McCaffery ($1.1 million), Northwestern’s Bill Carmody ($1.1 million) and DeChellis.

Here are the football salaries: Tressell, Ferentz, Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez ($2.5 million), Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio ($1.8 million), Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema ($1.7 million), Illinois’ Ron Zook ($1.5 million), Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald ($1.2 million), Minnesota’s Tim Brewer ($1 million), Paterno, Hope and Lynch.

Granted, none of these coaches are destitute. You can make an awfully good living with DeChellis’ salary. Still, there is a wide gap between the richest and the poorest, and the success of these programs reflects that.

Here’s the bottom line –- if the NCAA tries to regulate salaries, it will get sued into defeat. The market will do the regulating. That’s as deep an answer as we can give.

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