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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

College football and basketball coaches earn wildly lucrative sums of money to do their jobs. The problem, though, is how much they sometimes get paid not to do them.

Driving the news: Just this week, there were two high profile cases where departing coaches earned upwards of eight figures on their way out.

  • Will Muschamp, former South Carolina football coach, collected a $13 million buyout after he was fired for poor performance.
  • Gregg Marshall, former Wichita State men's basketball coach, walked away with a $7.75 million settlement after resigning amid allegations of abuse.

How it works: Buyouts like Muschamp's are simply the cost of doing business in the billion-dollar college sports industry.

  • Coaches are in such high demand that schools tend to overpay so as not to lose them to a competitor, despite knowing there's a decent chance either the coach or school will decide to move on before the contract ends.
  • Buyout clauses are built in up front to avoid the inevitable lawsuit that would stem from a breach of contract on either side. One famous example: Charlie Weis' $19 million buyout from Notre Dame in 2009.

Between the lines: Marshall's settlement is a more egregious situation given the ugliness of the allegations levied against him.

  • It's reasonable to wonder if the only reason Wichita State agreed to such a hefty sum is that they were aware of his misdeeds and chose not to stop them as he continued churning out a winning program.
  • Or, perhaps the school is simply trying to avoid a drawn out legal battle, preferring instead to cut a check and quickly move on from the Marshall era.

The big picture: This broken system is made possible by the labor (student-athletes) being free, which gives coaches all the leverage.

  • Get this: If it's the coach who chooses to leave, his buyout to the former school will often be paid for by his new employer.
  • In other words, coaches are generally protected either way. As one athletic director said, "I'm paying the old coach, I'm paying the school that's not my school, and I'm paying the new coach."
  • Meanwhile, unpaid student-athletes are regularly punished for minor infractions like a $252 phone bill accounting error.

The last word, from The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach (subscription):

"I remember when coaches had to work in the summer, all day in the offseason to make ends meet. Now, just go out there and get fired."

Go deeper

Why one coding bootcamp is ditching income-sharing agreements

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Make School, one of the earlier “coding bootcamps” to use income-sharing agreements, has quietly pivoted to traditional college loans that it covers until graduates find well-paid software development jobs. This is cheaper for students (and itself), the school tells Axios.

Why it matters: In recent years, income-sharing agreements (ISAs) have been hailed by some as the key to fix the college debt crisis because they seemingly hold schools responsible for their graduates’ professional—and financial—success.

Dave Lawler, author of World
20 mins ago - World

Americans increasingly see China as an enemy

One in three Americans, and a majority of Republicans, now view China as an enemy of the United States, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Just 9% of Americans consider China a "partner," while 55% see Beijing as a "competitor" and 34% as an "enemy."

Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

A group of undocumented immigrants walk toward a Customs and Border Patrol station after being apprehended. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.