Professional football is the most lucrative coaching field, according to Forbes, which has released its top 10 list of highest-paid coaches in sports.
Bill Belichick tops the list for the second year in a row following the retirement of Phil Jackson, the only coach to have ever made an eight-figure salary. Belichick is believed to make $7.5 million per year. Doc Rivers is the highest-paid NBA coach at $7 million.
Sean Payton would have made the list at $7 million if not for his suspension.
No Major League Baseball or National Hockey League coach made the list. The highest-paid MLB coach is the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Scioscia, whose 10-year, $50 million contract gives him an average salary of $5 million per year. Forbes has never reported on the highest-paid NHL coaches.
NFL and NBA head-coaching salaries are driven in part by escalating college coaching salaries. A college head coach’s salary is more complicated to compute than a professional coach’s, because pay can come from a variety of sources, from the university to athletic foundations to shoe and apparel companies. Experts say only approximately 25 percent of a head coach’s salary is paid directly by the university.
According to information compiled by USA Today, the average college football coach at a public university made $2.1 million in 2011. Texas’ Mack Brown led the list at $5.2 million, but Alabama’s Nick Saban will become the highest-paid college football coach in 2012 with a salary of $5.3 million.
Saban ranked second in 2011 at $4.7 million, followed by Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops at $4.1 million, LSU’s Les Miles at $3.8 million and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz at $3.8 million. In 2012, Urban Meyer will enter the list at $4 million during his first year at Ohio State.
Men’s college basketball coaches make slightly less on average than their football brethren, with an average salary of $1.4 million among coaches at public universities who made the NCAA tournament. Kentucky’s John Calipari led the list at $5 million, followed by Louisville's Rick Pitino at $3.9 million, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski at $4.7 million, Florida’s Billy Donovan at $3.6 million and Kansas' Bill Self at $3.4 million.
Those numbers, however, don’t always show the whole picture. For example, a Duke University federal tax return filed for 2010-11 shows Krzyzewski made $8.9 million when bonuses, incentives, retirement/deferred compensation and non-taxable benefits are included.
Women’s college basketball coaches have also seen salaries rise in recent years, with the top five all receiving more than $1 million per year. Prior to retiring, Pat Summitt led the list at $2 million. UConn’s Geno Auriemma becomes the highest-paid women’s college basketball coach at $1.6 million. Baylor’s Kim Mulkey, Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer and Texas’ Gail Goestenkors (who has since resigned) follow at $1.1 million each.
Although these college coaches’ salaries are out of proportion with athletic department revenues as compared to professional sports, Forbes’ Tom Van Riper writes there’s a reason for that:
"The millionaire coaches are overpaid by one standard -- you don’t see NBA head coaches making 5 percent to 10 percent of their clubs’ annual revenues like top college coaches do. But there’s a reason for that -- an NBA franchise is a big operation that transcends the current coach. Star players carry the club on the court, owners and other front office executives take care of business off it. In college, the coach is the program, for the most part, both the public face and guy replenishing the talent as players graduate or leave early for the pros."