Oct 13, 2023 - Sports

How Oregon ranks in football coach pay

Data: USA Today; Note: Private Pac-12 schools Stanford and USC did not provide data; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: USA Today; Note: Private Pac-12 schools Stanford and USC did not provide data; Chart: Axios Visuals

The University of Oregon's Dan Lanning is the highest-paid head college football coach in the Pac-12.

  • Earning $6.6 million this year, he ranks 19th for pay among head football coaches nationally, according to the latest data from USA Today. And his pay is scheduled to rise further.

Why it matters: College football coaches' salaries have been surging for years — part of the shift from an amateur to a pro approach in the sport that's also driving UO's move to the Big Ten.

By the numbers: Lanning's $6.6 million includes base pay of $4.7 million plus incentives, and takes into account a recent raise.

  • In July, UO extended Lanning's original six-year contract by one more season — through 2028 — and jumped his base annual salary to $7 million.
  • It's a massive increase from his salary at the University of Georgia, where he earned $1.7 million in 2021 as an assistant coach before coming to UO.

Of note: Oregon State University's head football coach, Jonathan Smith, earns $4.85 million, ranking 37th nationally and fifth in the Pac-12, per USA Today.

Details: USA Today's data shows the University of Oregon would have to pay Lanning $44.3 million if they fired him without cause before Dec. 1, 2023.

  • He would need to pay UO $20 million to leave before his contract is up.

Context: Next fall, UO joins the Big Ten college athletics conference, where football coaches' salaries are generally higher than in the Pac-12.

  • Six of the 14 Big Ten head football coaches ranked by USA Today are among the top 20 earners nationally.
  • Lanning is the only Pac-12 coach to rank in the top 20 this year, and he'd be the 7th highest-paid coach in the Big Ten.

The intrigue: At UO, the next two highest earners are men's head basketball coach Dana Altman, whose base pay was $3.79 million last year, per UO data, and women's head basketball coach Kelly Graves, with $1.06 million in base pay.

  • Head track and field coach Robert Johnson earned $530,289.
  • Lanning's 20 assistant football coaches earned between $112,500 and $851,270, according to the UO records.
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