Aug 13, 2019 - Sports

College coaches in lower-profile sports are richer than ever

Kendall Baker, author of Sports

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

With television revenue rolling in, Power 5 schools are engaged in a new kind of arms race, paying significantly more money than ever before to coaches in so-called non-revenue sports.

Driving the news: USA Today examined how much money each Power 5 public school paid its head coaches in 23 sports other than football and men's and women's basketball in 2013 and 2018.

  • Their findings: In that five-year span, total compensation for those coaches grew a whopping 43%, which is almost the same rate of increase that football coaches saw (51%).
  • Specific examples: The average compensation in softball increased by 62%, with 11 schools paying more than $400,000. … The average compensation in baseball rose by 51% to $651,445 … and the average compensation in wrestling grew by 55% to $266,000.

Why it matters: "[T]he fact that compensation for coaches in lower-profile, money-losing sports has been growing at a similar rate to football raises red flags for some athletics directors worried about budget crunches," per USA Today.

  • It also raises red flags for critics of the NCAA model, who look at skyrocketing salaries in non-revenue sports alongside student-athletes who haven't seen a dime and see a broken system in desperate need of repair.

The big picture: In 2005, D-I schools spent more on scholarships than on coaches and administrative pay. But since then, the latter two have pulled ahead.

  • 2005: $736 million on scholarships, $721 million on coaches pay, and $686 million on administrative pay.
  • 2018: $1.92 billion on coaches pay, $1.72 billion on administrative pay, and $1.7 billion on scholarships.

Go deeper: How NCAA conferences earn money from March Madness

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