Athletic coaches are among the highest-paid positions in the college and university world—particularly at the big state and private institutions. A head football coach makes a median salary of $96,403 across all types of institutions, while at the major universities (those with many students and big research budgets) the figure is $300,761.
When it comes to coaches’ salaries, football and men’s basketball take first prize, as all 20 of the highest-paid head coaches on our list are associated with one of these two sports. In fact, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, your state’s highest-paid public employee is most likely a college football or basketball coach!
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Infrographic by Deadspin.
Below are our profiles of the 20 highest-paid college coaches in U.S. Our list has been calculated in terms of the salary paid to them for their coaching activity, not counting bonuses, endorsements, or additional income from other sources.
The figures are all for the 2013–2014 athletic season.
Readers might also like: “Why College Coaches Get So Much Cash.”
1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University
Men’s Basketball, $7,233,976
Mike Krzyzewski, also known as “Coach K,” has been the head basketball coach at Duke University since 1980. He has led the Blue Devils to four NCAA Championships, 11 Final Fours, 12 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season titles, and 13 ACC Tournament Championships.
Prior to coaching at Duke, Krzyzewski played basketball under Coach Bob Knight at the United States Military Academy, and he later coached there from 1975–1980. Coach K also has two gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. He was also the head coach of the American team that won the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Krzyzewski has won numerous awards, including Basketball Times National Coach of the Year (twice: 1986, 1997), Naismith College Coach of the Year (three times: 1989, 1992, 1999), NABC Coach of the Year (1991), and ACC Coach of the Year (five times: 1984, 1986, 1997, 1999, 2000).
Krzyzewski’s overall coaching record is 972–301.
2. John Calipari, University of Kentucky
Men’s Basketball, $5,400,000
John Calipari is the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. He has been the head coach of the University of Memphis Tigers, the University of Massachusetts Minutemen, and the National Basketball Association’s New Jersey Nets.
Calipari has officially been to two Final Fours, both with Kentucky (2011, 2012). He also previously led the University of Massachusetts (1996) and the University of Memphis (2008) to the Final Four, but those appearances were later vacated. Consequently, Calipari is the only head coach to have Final Four appearances vacated at more than one school, although he himself was not personally implicated by the NCAA in either case.
Calipari played basketball at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, as well as Clarion University, where he led the team in assists and free throw percentages. Calipari has also been an assistant coach with the University of Kansas, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Calipari’s overall record is 539–166.
3. Nick Saban, University of Alabama
Nick Saban is the head football coach for the University of Alabama. He has held that position since 2007, following head coach positions with the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins, Louisiana State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Toledo. In 2008, Forbes magazine named Saban “The Most Powerful Coach in Sports.”
Saban led Louisiana State University to the BCS National Championship in 2003 and the University of Alabama to BCS and AP National Championships in the 2009, 2011, and 2012 seasons, making him the first coach in college football history to win a National Championship with two different Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools. Saban and Paul “Bear” Bryant are the only coaches in history to win an SEC championship at two different schools.
Saban has also been the assistant coach at Kent State University, Syracuse University, West Virginia University, and the Navy. Besides the Miami Dolphins, he has also held assistant coaching positions with the Cleveland Brown and the Houston Oilers.
Saban’s overall coaching record is 165–57–1
4. Mack Brown, University of Texas
Mack Brown just coached his last season as the head football coach at the University of Texas at Austin, which he led to the Big 12 Conference championship and the National Championship in 2005.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Texas in 1998, he held the head coaching position at Appalachian State University, Tulane University, and the University of North Carolina. In 2006 he was awarded the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award for “Coach of the Year,” and on November 27, 2008, Brown achieved his 200th career win, making him the first Texas coach to reach that mark.
Brown has held assistant coaching positions at Southern Mississippi State University, Memphis State University, Iowa State University, and the University of Oklahoma. During his career, he achieved 20 consecutive winning seasons, 18 consecutive bowl game appearances, 162 consecutive weeks ranked in the AP poll from 2000–2010, and 192 consecutive weeks ranked in the coaches’ poll from 1998–2010.
Brown’s overall record is 224–122–1.
5. Bret Bielema, University of Arkansas
Bret Bielema has been the head football coach at the University of Arkansas since 2012. He was previously the head coach at the University of Wisconsin and an assistant coach at Kansas State University and the University of Iowa. He has led his team to two Big Ten Championships (2010, 2012) and he was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2006.
Bielema played college football as a defensive lineman at the University of Iowa under legendary coach Hayden Fry from 1989 to 1992. He also played for the Milwaukee Mustangs in the Arena Football League.
Bielema became the first coach in University of Wisconsin history to win 11 games in the regular season. After a 17–14 victory over the University of Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl on January 1, 2007, he became only the third coach in NCAA history to win 12 games in his rookie season, finishing 12–1.
Bielema’s overall record is 71–33.
6. Butch Jones, University of Tennessee
Butch Jones just became the head football coach at the University of Tennessee in 2013. Previously, he was the head coach at the University of Cincinnati and Central Michigan University. He led Central Michigan University to the Mid-America Conference title twice (2007, 2009) and the University of Cincinnati to the Big East Championship, also twice (2011, 2012).
Jones made his coaching debut with Tennessee in August of 2013 against the Austin Peay Governors, resulting in a 45–0 Tennessee victory—the program’s 800th victory in history. Tennessee became only the eighth school in the nation to reach that plateau.
Jones has served as an assistant coach at Central Michigan University, Ferris State University, Wilkes University, and Rutgers University. He also played football for Ferris State University from 1987–1989.
Jones’s overall record is 55–34.
7. Bill Self, University of Kansas
Men’s Basketball, $4,750,763
Bill Self is the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Kansas, a position he has held since 2003. Prior to his current position, he was the head coach at the University of Illinois, the University of Tulsa, and Oral Roberts University. Self has led the University of Kansas to nine straight Big 12 Conference regular season championships (2004–05 through 2012–13 seasons) and the 2008 NCAA national championship.
Self also served as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University and the University of Kansas. He has received numerous awards including, National Coach of the Year by he Sporting News (2000, 2009, 2011), the Associated Press National Coach of the Year in 2009, and the ESPN National Coach of the Year in 2009, among others.
Self played basketball at Oklahoma State University, where he was a four-year letter winner. Self and his wife founded Assists Organization, which is a non-profit organization that serves as a fundraising conduit for organizations that serve a variety of youth initiatives, providing young people access to better lives.
Self’s overall record is 507–164.
8. Bob Stoops, University of Oklahoma
Bob Stoops is the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma, a position he has held since 1999. Prior to his head-coaching position, he held several assistant coaching positions at the University of Florida, Kansas State University, Kent State University, and the University of Iowa. In the 2000 season, he led the Sooners to an Orange Bowl victory and a National Championship.
Stoops was a four-year starter, and an All-Big Ten selection at defensive back at the University of Iowa. He was also one of the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Players in 1982.
Stoops was awarded the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award in 2000 and the Walter Camp Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2003. In 2013, he tied Barry Switzer for the most wins by a coach at Oklahoma, and one week later, on November 23, 2013, he surpassed Switzer’s record with a 41–31 victory over Kansas State.
Stoops’s overall record is 160–39.
9. Urban Meyer, Ohio State University
Urban Meyer has been the head football coach at Ohio State University since 2012. Prior to that, he was the head coach at the University of Florida, the University of Utah, and Bowling Green State University.
Meyer also served in several assistant coaching positions at the University of Notre Dame, Colorado State University, and Illinois State University, to name a few. While at the University of Florida, he led the Gators to two BCS National Championship victories in 2006 and 2008. His winning percentage through the conclusion of the 2009 season (.842) was the highest among all active coaches with a minimum of five full seasons at a Football Bowl Subdivision program.
Meyer, who played defensive back at the University of Cincinnati, has received numerous awards, including the Sporting News National Coach of the Year Award in 2003, the Sporting News Coach of the Decade Award in 2009, and the Sports Illustrated Coach of the Decade Award in 2009.
Meyer’s overall record is 128–25
10. Les Miles, Louisiana State University
Les Miles has been the head football coach at Louisiana State University since 2005, replacing Nick Saban (#3 on our list). Before that, he was the head coach at Oklahoma State University. Miles coached Louisiana State University to the BCS National Championship Game win against Ohio State University in 2008.
Miles has held other coaching positions for the Dallas Cowboys, the University of Michigan, and the University of Colorado. He played football at Michigan, where he was a two-year letterman under Coach Bo Schembechler from 1974 to 1975.
Miles has received several awards, including the Associated Press College Football Coach of the Year Award, the Home Depot Coach of the Year, and the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award that same year, all in 2011.
Miles’s overall record is 123–45.
11. Brady Hoke, University of Michigan
Brady Hoke is the head football coach at the University of Michigan. He began this position in 2011 after being head coach at San Diego State University and Ball State University. He led the Ball State University football team to a 12–1 record and their first appearance in the Associated Press Top 25 in school history, peaking at #12.
Hoke has also served as an assistant coach at a variety of universities, including Oregon State University, the University of Toledo, and Grand Valley State University. He played linebacker for Ball State University from 1977–1980.
Hoke has received the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year Award in 2008, the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year Award in 2010, and the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award in 2011. In his first season as the head coach at the University of Michigan, Hoke led them to their first winning record in Big Ten conference play since 2007.
Hoke’s overall record is 73–63.
12. Rick Pitino, University of Louisville
Men’s Basketball, $4,078,327
Rick Pitino is the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Louisville. He recently coached his team to the 2013 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. At the same time he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Pitino has held head coaching jobs at both the collegiate and NBA levels to include the Boston Celtics, the University of Kentucky, the New York Knicks, and Providence College. He has also served as an assistant coach at several universities, including the University of Hawaii, Boston University, and Syracuse University.
Pitino played the guard position at the University of Massachusetts. He has received several awards, including the SEC Coach of the Year Award three times (1990, 1991, 1996), the John Wooden National Coach of the Year Award (1987), and the National Association of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year Award (also 1987).
Pitino’s overall head coaching record is 629–234.
13. Kirk Ferentz, University of Iowa
Kirk Ferentz is the head football coach for the University of Iowa, a position he has held since 1999. He was also the head football coach for the University of Maine from 1990 to 1992. He has won two Big Ten Championships (2002, 2004) and has received the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award three times (2002, 2004, 2009), as well as the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award (2002).
Ferentz has also held several assistant coaching positions at the NFL and collegiate levels, such as with the Baltimore Ravens, the Cleveland Browns, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Connecticut.
Ferentz played linebacker for the University of Connecticut, where he also served as team captain. During his time at Pitt, he served as the offensive line coach, and they finished with an 11–1 record and the #2 national ranking.
Ferentz’s overall coaching record is 120–100.
14. Charlie Strong, University of Louisville
Charlie Strong just finished his last season as the head football coach at the University of Louisville and will be the head football coach for the University of Texas beginning with the 2014–2015 season. He signed a five-year contract, which will pay him $5 million this upcoming season with a $100,000 annual raise.
Strong led the University of Louisville to a 2013 Sugar Bowl victory over the University of Florida with a final score of 33–23. It was proclaimed the biggest upset victory in terms of point spread in any BCS bowl game (Florida had been favored by almost two touchdowns).
Strong, who holds a master’s degree in education from Henderson State University, has served as an assistant coach at several universities, including the University of Florida, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of South Carolina, among others. He played football for the University of Arkansas, lettering all four years.
Strong’s overall record is 37–16.
15. Billy Donovan, University of Florida
Men’s Basketball, $3,689,200
Billy Donovan is the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Florida, a position he has held since 1996. He led the University of Florida to two NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships (2006, 2007). Donovan also holds five SEC Championships in 2000, 2001, 2007, 20011, and 2013.
Donovan’s only other coaching jobs were at Marshall University, as head coach, and at the University of Kentucky, as an assistant coach. He played point guard for Providence College, and also played one year in the NBA for the New York Knicks, where he was coached by Rick Pitino (#12 on our list). He averaged 2.4 points and 2.0 assists over 44 games with the Knicks.
Donovan was recognized by his peers as the SEC Coach of the Year in 2011, and was also the recipient of the John R. Wooden’s Legends of Coaching Award in 2010.
Donovan’s overall coaching record is 431–168.
16. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State University
Mike Gundy is the head football coach for Oklahoma State University, a position (his first as head coach) he has held since 2005. In 2008, he coached the Cowboys to their best season in 20 years. And in 2011, they won the Big 12 Championship. They then barely lost their spot in the BCS National Championship game, to second-place Alabama, by the smallest margin between #2 and #3 in BCS history.
Gundy has served as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland, at Baylor University, and at Oklahoma State University. He has received the Big 12 Coach of the Year Award (2010), the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award (2011), and the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award (2011).
Gundy played quarterback for Oklahoma State from 1986–1989, where he also served as the Quarterback Coach from 1991–1995.
Gundy’s overall record is 77–38.
17. Steve Spurrier, University of South Carolina
Steve Spurrier is the head football coach at the University of South Carolina. He has won several SEC Championships, an ACC National Championship, and the National Championship in 1996, and has become the Gamecocks’ winningest football coach in school history.
Spurrier has also been head coach for the NFL’s Washington Redskins, as well as head coach and assistant coach at both the University of Florida and Duke University.
Spurrier played quarterback for the University of Florida, becoming a two-time All-American quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner for the Gators, as well as being named SEC Player of the Year (1966). He went on to play professional football for the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1986.
Spurrier has won the SEC Coach of the Year seven times, along with his SEC Championships as a coach. He has also won the ACC Coach of the Year Award twice (1988, 1989).
Spurrier’s overall record is 219–79.
18. Bill O’Brien, Pennsylvania State University
Bill O’Brien just coached his last season as the head football coach at Pennsylvania State University, replacing Joe Paterno in 2012. This was his first and only head coaching job at the collegiate level. After only his second season at Penn State, he left to become the head coach of the Houston Texans. He was officially introduced as the Texans’ head coach on January 2, 2014.
O’Brien has served as an assistant coach at various schools, including Duke University, Georgia Tech University, and Brown University, among others. In 2012, he earned four awards: the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award, the Maxwell Coach of the Year Award, and the AT&T-ESPN Coach of the Year Award.
O’Brien played defensive end and linebacker for Brown University from 1990 to 1992.
O’Brien’s coaching record at Penn State was 15–9.
19. Tom Izzo, Michigan State University
Men’s Basketball, $3,220,769
Tom Izzo is the head men’s basketball coach at Michigan State University. He has held that position since 1995; before that, he had served as an assistant coach for the university since 1983. Izzo has taken the Spartans to the 2000 NCAA Division I National Championship, the 2009 NCAA Division I National Championship Game, six Final Fours, and seven Big Ten Championships during the 17 years of his tenure as head coach.
Izzo has achieved the most wins of any coach in Michigan State history, and his team has been invited to the past 16 consecutive NCAA tournaments, in addition to setting the Big Ten record for the longest home winning streak.
Izzo is a three-time winner of the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award. He has also won the Henry Iba Award and Associated Press National Coach of the Year Award (both in 1998).
Izzo played guard for Northern Michigan University from 1973 to 1977. In his senior season, he set a school record for minutes played and was named a Division II All-American.
Izzo’s overall record is 455–171.
20. Mark Richt, University of Georgia
Mark Richt is the head football coach for the University of Georgia, a position he has held since 2001. This has been his only head coaching job. Hehas led the Bulldogs to two SEC Championships (2002, 2005), as well as six SEC Eastern Division Titles, and was named SEC Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2005.
Previously, Richt served as an assistant coach at Florida State University for 14 years, as the quarterback coach and as offensive coordinator. In 2000, Richt led the Bulldogs’ offense to the first-place national ranking in total offense (549.0 yds/game), first in passing offense (384.0 yds/game), and third in scoring offense (42.4 points/game).
Before going to Florida State, Richt served as an assistant coach at East Carolina University. He played quarterback for the University of Miami in the 1980s and played backup quarterback in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills’ Jim Kelly.
Richt has an overall record at the University of Georgia of 126–45.