The salaries and contract lengths of football and men’s basketball head coaches and assistant coaches have dramatically increased in recent years and only continue to grow.
Texas A&M made waves in the offseason when it hired former Florida State football head coach Jimbo Fisher to the same position, signing him to a fully guaranteed 10-year, $75 million contract, according to ESPN. Alabama spent $11,132,000 on football head coach Nick Saban last year, according to USA Today head coach salary database.
Though Ohio State pays its coaches in the upper echelon of salaries, it has avoided paying what Athletics Director Gene Smith believes to be unnecessarily large salaries for coaches.
“I don’t even put Texas A&M in our sphere because I’m considering Urban [Meyer]’s situation with three years left on his contract,” Smith said during Ohio State’s Board of Trustees’ Talent and Compensation Committee meeting Thursday. “Talking with [Susan Basso, vice president of human resources] and [Joanna McGoldrick, associate vice president of total rewards], that’s not even someone that we’re comparing with because it’s so ridiculous.
“It’s the same way with Alabama and their total salary. Take it off the sheet because it doesn’t matter. Because it’s just no value to it. It’s a reactionary type of management.”
Smith’s comments are significant because Meyer, one of the sport’s most successful coaches, will have his contract expire in three seasons. Ohio State has the budget to pay him as much or more than every other university in the country, boasting one of the few profitable athletic departments in the nation. Smith’s remarks indicate the university recognizes coaching salaries have skyrocketed, but that it might harbor an uneasiness to match Texas A&M and Alabama’s compensation levels.
Last season, Meyer made $6,431,240, according to USA Today. He was the fourth-highest-paid coach in the country last season and the second-highest paid in the Big Ten, behind Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh ($7,004,000).
The increased spending on coaches extends to assistants as well. Prior to last season, Michigan became the first college football program to pay three assistant coaches at least $1 million in base salary per season. Fifteen football assistant coaches made at least $1 million last season.
In USA Today’s database for total assistant coach salary, Ohio State ranked 13th in the nation and second in the Big Ten, behind Michigan. Ohio State’s most expensive assistant football coach last season, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, made $700,000 in base salary. He was tied for the 38th-most expensive assistant coach in college football last year.
Recently promoted offensive coordinator Ryan Day is scheduled to make $800,000 in base salary next season, according to the contract he signed prior to the 2017 season, though he might receive a raise with his promotion. The Lantern submitted a public-records request for Day’s contract, but has not yet received the document from the university.
During the meeting in which Smith called into question rising coach salaries, the Talent and Compensation Committee approved Ohio State men’s basketball head coach Chris Holtmann’s 8-year, $26 million contract. Holtmann’s average annual base salary of $3.25 million would rank eighth highest among men’s college basketball coaches whose teams made the NCAA Tournament last season. Two of Holtmann’s Big Ten counterparts — Michigan State’s Tom Izzo ($4,251,751) and Michigan’s John Beilein ($3,370,000) — made more than $3.25 million last year.
Owen Daugherty contributed reporting.