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COLUMN | GAME STORY | ENTERPRISE | MAGAZINE FEATURE | FEATURE
FIRST PLACE: INVESTIGATIVE/ENTERPRISE
Six of last year's Elite Eight coaches received new contracts this season. At least 20 of the 65 coaches in last year's tournament are making $1 million or more. It's not only marquee programs that drive salaries higher. Smaller schools find ways to retain their up-and-comers, too.
This is money time in college basketball. Literally.
Sixty-five coaches will lead their teams into the NCAA Division I men's tournament next week, and one will emerge the first Monday in April with a celebratory strand of net and a national championship. Many more, if history holds, will cash in with new or considerably sweetened contracts.
The coaches of six of the tournament's Elite Eight teams a year ago parlayed their success into new deals for this season. They'd have gone 7-for-8, but Billy Donovan of national champion Florida chose to postpone a discussed extension.
Their raises were substantial. At the five schools where raises are public – George Mason, LSU, Memphis, Texas and UCLA – the coaches got a collective bump of about $1.7 million, or about $332,000 each when they extended their contracts. With those new agreements, and others, at least 20 of last year's 65 tournament coaches are making $1 million or more this season, a USA TODAY study finds. Kentucky's Tubby Smith is guaranteed nearly $2.1 million. Texas' Rick Barnes, Ohio State's Thad Matta and Michigan State's Tom Izzo all are pulling down more than $1.7 million.
USA TODAY obtained contracts or other documents detailing salaries for coaches at 58 of the 65 schools in the 2006 tournament field. Their average salary this season: nearly $800,000.
In the six marquee conferences – the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10 and Southeastern – that average jumps to $1.2 million, not counting benefits, incentives or any of the perks coaches routinely receive.
Izzo, for example, will pocket a $4 million bonus if he stays on as the Spartans' coach through April 2010. That's on top of the $5.8 million in bonuses he received in 2006, when his take for the season exceeded $7 million – the highest single-season payout in the study.
That, in part, is in recognition of a national championship and three more Final Four appearances in the last eight years.
If Memphis' John Calipari wins a national title, he would earn an additional $400,000. Arizona's Lute Olson has a deal with Nike that paid him $500,000 last season.
The averages USA TODAY calculated don't include Louisville's Rick Pitino, one of the game's biggest names and most lavishly compensated coaches, whose team didn't make the 2006 tournament field. His take from the school will be at least $2.45 million this year, part of that a $1 million bonus for staying through the current season. If Pitino approximates the more than $1.5 million in shoe and apparel endorsements and other outside income he reported a year ago, his gross will approach or surpass $4 million.
Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Connecticut's Geno Auriemma, both making more than $1 million including shoe and apparel money, set the bar for women's basketball coaches, whose salaries likewise are climbing but lag well behind the men's.
"They (the free-spending men's programs) are all in a rat race," says C.M. Newton, who coached at Alabama and Vanderbilt, spent 11 years as athletics director at Kentucky and once headed the committee that oversees the NCAA tournament.
Newton helped make Pitino a $2 million man more than a decade ago, then hired Smith to succeed him. "I understand the marketplace as well as anybody. I have paid big salaries," Newton says. "But yeah, it bothers me ... when a football coach or a basketball coach is making significantly more than deans and college presidents and so on."
Slightly behind football salaries
As dizzying as they may be, the portions of basketball salaries guaranteed by the schools across the board in all of Division I runs slightly behind those in football, where seating capacities are larger, gate revenue is greater and the imprint on athletics departments' bottom lines is deeper.
In Division I-A, home to the nation's 119 richest, most competitive programs, football accounts for 68% of all men's athletics revenue compared with 23% for men's basketball, according to the NCAA. Football's profits, on average, are almost triple basketball's.
The trickle down: In an earlier study, USA TODAY found at least 42 I-A football coaches making $1 million or more. Division-wide in basketball, says Dutch Baughman of the I-A Athletics Directors Association, who conducts his own annual survey of salaries, there are at least two dozen million-dollar coaches – up from only two five years ago.
Football coaches across I-A earned an average of about $950,000 last season, according to USA TODAY's analysis of contracts and salary-related documents for 108 coaches. That's about 18% below the $1.1 million average it found for 29 men's basketball coaches at I-A schools, but they're part of an exclusive group whose teams reached the tournament.
NFL teams' taste for college coaches also has fed escalation in football salaries. NBA teams of late have not been a frequent enough bidder for college coaches' services to move the market in basketball.
Beyond that, however, the forces driving up salaries in both signature sports are similar. Coaches are dipping into a rising stream of money from schools' television, apparel and marketing agreements. More have hired hard-bargaining agents.
And amid the rising financial stakes and awareness of the exposure a winning team can generate, the competition for top coaches – signing and keeping them – is fierce.
"The reason for salary escalation in basketball is exactly the same as it is in football," Baughman says. "It's market-driven.
"You can feel very strongly about (holding the line on) the compensation levels you provide. But ... if your coach is the one who's being courted by another school or has been extremely successful and you want to be sure you can retain the coach, all of a sudden the perspective changes dramatically."
Middle-echelon schools, too
The bull market has stampeded not only through the Kentuckys and Ohio States at the top of college basketball's food chain but across its middle echelon, where today's hot young coach might become the hiring target of a bigger school.
At Wichita State, athletics director Jim Schaus says it's important "to get on our tippy-toes and find a way to fund and keep good coaches," because of the revenue and exposure the sport generates for the school. "There are times where you have to be creative, be aggressive and find a way to address priorities. ... Do everything you possibly can, within reason."
And so the Shockers' Mark Turgeon is working under a third contract extension in four years after lifting a program that hadn't reached the NCAA tournament since 1988 into the Sweet 16 last year. His guarantee has nearly quadrupled from $200,000 annually to $750,000 this season, and the deal he signed last April included such extras as jet charters for his team for at least nine road games a year and use of a private plane for recruiting.
Tom Crean got a new deal immediately after taking Dwyane Wade-led Marquette to the Final Four in 2003, and while the private school isn't obliged to release contract terms, tax forms show he was the university's highest-paid employee in 2004-05. He made almost $1.7 million. Next-highest was David Shrock, dean of the business school, at $262,171.
Crean's deal was extended – through the 2016-17 season – after he guided the Golden Eagles back into the tournament last March.
At Memphis, Calipari remembers roughing out the terms of his original contract with the school on a cocktail napkin. That was seven years ago. Re-entering the college game after two-plus years in the NBA, he would make $565,000 in his first season.
"I said,'That's fine,'" he says, "because in this profession, if you do what you do and you have confidence that you're going to create value for yourself, either they see it and they meet that value or you go somewhere else."
An average of 25 wins a season and three NCAA tournament appearances later, Calipari now is guaranteed more than $1.3 million and is working toward a $2.5 million "longevity bonus" in 2010.
His contract was reworked a fifth time in six years last April – after his Tigers finished a 33-win season a step shy of the Final Four and North Carolina State made a pitch to hire him.
Time and again, postseason success begets raises. Coming off last year's Final Four:
• UCLA's Ben Howland, whose team lost to Florida in the title game, worked out a new seven-year contract guaranteeing him $1.15 million this season. His base salary increased by $100,000, his personal services compensation by $75,000. He added a $900,000 home loan at 3% interest.
• LSU's John Brady got a new five-year, $5 million deal, increasing his radio-TV take from $415,000 to $650,000 with further raises to $850,000 by 2010-11. In addition, he went from no performance incentives to as much as $300,000 in NCAA tournament-related bonuses alone.
• George Mason, which hadn't won in three previous NCAA appearances, better than doubled Jim Larranaga's annual guarantee to a little more than $489,000.
Getting to the Elite Eight earned Texas' Barnes a $500,000 raise to a guaranteed $1.8 million this season. En route to earning a No.1 tournament seed and ultimately playing in a regional final, Villanova's Jay Wright got a February contract extension through 2012-13.
Jim Calhoun, who put together another regional finalist at Connecticut, re-upped a year earlier, getting a six-year deal guaranteeing him $1.5 million this season.
'Talk of the whole nation'
"That is something that has existed for a long time in all sports," Larranaga says of the tournament's impact. "Those games are televised, and they become the talk of the whole nation during March. And I think it's true of professional sports, with the World Series or the NBA playoffs.
"People want to be successful at the most crucial time of the year. And if you find a player or a coach who can succeed at a high level when all the chips are down, then normally the thought is,'We need to reward him for that.'"
As for Florida's Donovan, applaud his principle in joining Joakim Noah and the Gators' other NBA prospects – who opted to stay in school rather than jump into the draft – in forgoing immediate financial gain. But pity him not.
Donovan will make more than $1.7 million this season, including a $300,000 longevity incentive and $37,500 bonus for getting back to the tournament. He'd pocket another $162,500 if the Gators, an almost certain No. 1 or 2 seed when the 65-team bracket is unveiled Sunday, repeat as champions.
That at a school where football is undisputedly king. Urban Meyer, the Gators football coach, made only slightly more en route to his own national title last season: $2.15 million, including $375,000 in performance bonuses.
It's not just ticket sales and postseason revenue that coaches help generate, says Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese, a former head of the NCAA's Division I men's basketball committee. "It's also fundraising," he says. "I mean, how do you even begin to evaluate what Duke basket-ball means to Duke? Or what Carolina basketball means to North Carolina?
"When the new president took over at Georgetown, I can tell you what his thought process was: We're getting basketball back (on track) because this is an important part of the image that we're trying to sell. And that's one of excellence, not just academic but athletic. ...
"You say,'OK, what do I have to pay?'"
Shoe, apparel money adds up
It isn't just the schools paying. As in Pitino's case, income from outside sources such as shoe and apparel companies can be a significant supplement.
Arizona's Olson reported $696,000 in outside income in 2005-06, including the half-million from Nike. Florida's Donovan is guaranteed at least $525,000 in shoe and apparel money this season. At Michigan State, Izzo gets $300,000 from Nike plus $25,000 in merchandise credit.
Three years ago, Texas Tech's Bob Knight became the first coach to sell advertising space, NASCAR-style, on his game-day sweater. The arrangement netted him $120,000 from O'Reilly Auto Parts in 2004-05, a significant chunk of his $978,357 in outside income.
Larranaga found a post-Final Four windfall in speaking and other personal appearances. He made 73 from April through December last year, earning $274,100. The affable 57-year-old counted no more than 25 such appearances the year before, none for a fee.
Now in his 10th season at George Mason and 21st as a Division I head coach, Larranaga had approached the A-list Washington Speakers Bureau a few years back and was told "thanks but no thanks."
After the Patriots' Cinderella run through last season's tournament, however, the bureau called him, and he's now part of a stable that includes Madeleine Albright, Tom Brokaw, Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, fellow men's basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim and Tennessee's Summitt.
"I'd say over something close to 20 years, (public speaking has) been in the back of my mind," a delighted Larranaga says.
Shoe companies likewise covet postseason success.
Izzo's Nike contract provides him $25,000 for a Final Four appearance and another $50,000 for a national championship. Maryland's Gary Williams gets a $50,000 Nike bonus for a title.
The outside money, and potential for outside over-influence, has concerned some schools to the point of prohibiting direct coaches' personal contracts with shoe and apparel companies.
Still, the greater hand-wringing is over the schools' outlay and the strain of salaries on their budgets.
Without school and other subsidies and student fees, 82% of the nation's I-A athletics programs operated at losses averaging $7.8 million in 2005, according to the NCAA. Moreover, the big paychecks have further stamped college sports as big-time business and fed congressional questions about athletics' tax-exempt status.
By comparison, The Chronicle of Higher Education's annual survey of presidents' salaries found only two making as much as $800,000 and none making $1 million at the 182 public schools in the study.
"I don't know the answer," Newton says. "You can't regulate it, and you wouldn't want to.
"You'd hope that people would prioritize it correctly, but we're a sports culture that puts a greater value on winning basketball games, sometimes, than we do on education."
FIRST PLACE: INVESTIGATIVE/ENTERPRISE
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Winthrop athletics director Tom Hickman sits behind his desk playing with numbers, thinking of ways to sweeten the contract of men's basketball coach Gregg Marshall.
"We have to be creative at our level," Hickman says. "It's not easy when you're like us."
As schools in the traditional football power conferences steadily bid up men's basketball coaching salaries, mid-major schools and those on the lower end of Division I such as Winthrop are caught in the undertow.
USA TODAY obtained contracts or other documents detailing salaries for coaches at 58 of the 65 schools in the 2006 NCAA tournament field:
• Coaches from outside the six power conferences earned an average salary of about $400,000.
• Coaches from the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10 and Southeastern conferences made three times as much – an average of about $1.2 million.
Marshall makes $206,957, about half the average of mid-major coaches who made the tournament last season. Still, it's more than three times the $60,000-plus he was hired at in 1998.
He gets $118,588 in base pay, $2,500 for a radio show and $85,869 derived from guarantees Winthrop gets from bigger schools to play on the road with no return games. That last part is what Hickman means by being creative.
"We don't have available to us the big marketing contracts from apparel and shoe people that you can use to siphon money off to coaches," says Hickman, who is currently playing with a formula to get more money for Marshall from the guarantee games that netted Winthrop $390,000 this season.
Wichita State hired Mark Turgeon in 2000 at $200,000 a year. His contract has been reworked three times since and rose to $750,000 last spring, after the Shockers' run to the Sweet 16.
"I think it's a challenge at any level to keep coaches who are having success," Wichita State athletics director Jim Schaus says. "And I think that if you are at a program that may not be perceived as being at the very top of the food chain," the challenge is greater.
For all that, Turgeon is not highest-paid in the Missouri Valley Conference. Dana Altman of Creighton made nearly $1 million in 2005, according to tax forms. Creighton, as a private school, is not required to reveal contract details under open-records laws.
Base salaries soaring
Seton Hall asked for permission to speak to George Mason coach Jim Larranaga after his Patriots made their improbable run to the Final Four last season; he chose to stay at Mason, where he got a new deal.
"I think (contracts) are of a private nature," Larranaga says. "Even though I'm a state employee, and (people) can look up my salary and my contract – and I think that's their prerogative – I don't really talk about specifics to anyone."
Larranaga made about $196,500 in base salary last season and got $168,800 in bonuses related to the NCAA tournament. Last spring he signed a new contract with a base salary of $375,000 and in November got another raise to $394,125.
"We felt that, marketplace-wise, we needed to" give Larranaga more money, athletics director Tom O'Connor says. "We know there is money out there that may be a lot more than we can do."
George Mason was among a number of mid-majors that kept coaches after playing in last season's NCAA tournament, including Nevada (where Mark Fox got a raise from $260,000 to nearly $500,000) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (where Rob Jeter got a raise from $300,000 to $350,000 and is due another to $400,000 on June 1).
Northwestern ( La. ) State reached the NCAA's second round last March. In August, Mike McConathy became the school's first coach to secure a multiyear, six-figure contract: four years at a little more than $100,000 a year (the state university system requires one-year deals unless there are sufficient private funds to go longer).
Incentive to stay
Murray State lost coach Mick Cronin to Cincinnati after last season. When Murray State hired Billy Kennedy as its new coach, it added language to his contract anticipating that he might be wooed by other schools someday.
Kennedy owes Murray State $25,000 if he leaves to take a head coaching job in the six power leagues or in Conference USA, the Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Western Athletic or Ohio Valley. The buyout is $10,000 if he leaves for a school in another conference.
Another clause says if Kennedy leaves for any Division I school, he agrees his new school will play at Murray State within two years.
"With Coach Kennedy coming in, and the success I expect from him, I thought that was something that might pay off for Murray State in the future," athletics director Allen Ward says.
Winthrop won the Big South tournament Saturday, putting the Eagles in the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in Marshall's nine seasons.
Last season, Marshall accepted an offer to coach the College of Charleston . He says he did not think he could turn down a salary of $475,000 for his family's sake but changed his mind about 24 hours later because his family did not want to move.
Marshall did not get a raise for staying at Winthrop . But Hickman says he is working on one now for two reasons. One, Marshall's performance merits a raise. Two, other schools are bound to make offers, as happened after last season.
Marshall says he is thinking only about the seed his team could get Sunday, not the money he could get in his next contract.
"That's something that will be decided when and if someone makes an offer that I can't refuse," he says, "or Winthrop tries to do something to make it a situation where I can never leave."
Either way, Marshall wins.
"We can't compete with the $400,000 salaries, or even $300,000," Hickman says. "But we'll continue to tweak it as best we can and hope Gregg and (wife) Lynn love Rock Hill enough to hang around a long time."
'There are times where you have to be creative ... aggressive'
A look at how Wichita State and athletics director Jim Schaus enhanced coach Mark Turgeon's contract as the team became increasingly successful during his first six seasons with the school. The Shockers are 17-14 this season after achieving their first national top-10 ranking in 25 seasons in December.
Other income: $50,000
The following terms remain in effect in all versions of the contract:
Buyout provision if Turgeon is terminated without cause:
Buyout provision if Turgeon leaves without cause:
First extension and amendment
Other income: $250,000
Buyout provision if Turgeon is terminated without cause:
Buyout provision if Turgeon leaves without cause:
Second extension and amendment
Other income: $310,000
Third extension and amendment
Other income: $600,000
Buyout provision if Turgeon leaves without cause:
FIRST PLACE: INVESTIGATIVE/ENTERPRISE
Pat Summitt was paid $8,900 when she was hired to coach Tennessee's women's basketball team in 1974.
After 941 victories and six NCAA titles, Summitt sets the bar for coaches' salaries in the sport. Last May Summitt became the first to earn more than a million dollars annually when she signed a six-year, $7.8 million contract.
Summitt's competition to the million-dollar mark was Geno Auriemma, another Hall of Famer who has won five national titles at Connecticut . His guaranteed salary is $988,000, which does not include his contract with Nike, for which figures are unavailable. An NCAA berth is worth one month's salary, and a trip to the Final Four would pay two months' salary.
"You've got the ones out there cutting the way, Pat and Geno," says Beth Bass, CEO of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. "You've got another top 10 within striking distance of that. ... Before it was kind of different packages, but now the bases are coming up. That's a lot to be proud of at this point and shows where we are in the game."
This season Summitt is guaranteed $1.125 million, which includes a base salary of $325,000, $350,000 for television and radio and $150,000 for public relations. Her bonuses include $75,000 for a Southeastern Conference regular-season title (achieved this season) or conference tournament title, $100,000 for a trip to the Final Four and $250,000 for a national title.
Her guaranteed salary this season is just ahead of men's coach Bruce Pearl's ($1.1 million).
The number of million-dollar coaches and salaries in general should continue to swell as a new wave of coaches replaces the longtime veterans, Bass says.
"Natural attrition is going to happen," Bass says. "People are going to be retiring after 25 or 30 years. Once you start seeing that turnover, I think we're going to make another growth spurt with salaries."
Oklahoma's Sherri Coale received a 10% raise in June and is guaranteed $550,000 this season. If she remains at the school until June 30, she will collect $250,000 more in deferred compensation. Postseason bonuses include $10,000 for winning 20 games and $15,000 for a top-25 ranking in the final poll. She could earn $100,000 for winning the NCAA title.
Those coaches represent the elite programs. Not all coaches who make the NCAA tournament have six-figure deals. John Margaritis, who took California-Riverside to the NCAA tournament last year, earned $65,000 last season.
The rising salaries bring increased pressure. Carolyn Peck, who won the 1999 NCAA title at Purdue, was fired by Florida last month after the Gators went 0-11 in the SEC. She'll be paid about $300,000 to buy out the final year of her contract.
"If I'm paying a coach $30,000, expectations aren't going to be as high as they are if I'm paying $600,000," says Kansas athletics director Lew Perkins, who is paying Bonnie Henrickson nearly $750,000 this season. "It's what the institution wants out of the program."
Bonuses from clothing to jets fill coaches' pockets
Men's basketball coaches' contracts at NCAA Division I schools can be more than a matter of money. Some notable provisions for coaches whose schools played in last season's NCAA tournament:
This job also requires ...
• Montana's Wayne Tinkle and his staff must have CPR certification and first-aid training.
• San Diego State's Steve Fisher's duties include "using his energies and abilities to conduct youth-oriented activities, fundraising, public and community relations, speaking engagements and youth basketball clinics emphasizing inner-city high school programs."
• Albany's Will Brown must produce 40 weekly stories – about 300 words each and due at 5 p.m. each Tuesday – "providing news and commentary" on the program for the school's athletics website. For the work, Brown draws $7,000 in annual supplemental pay.
Clothing makes the man
• Memphis ' John Calipari gets a $15,000 annual clothing allowance, which athletics director R.C. Johnson says was initiated by a booster who owned a clothing store. Johnson says he and Tigers football coach Tommy West also get the allowance.
• Albany's Brown gets a $2,000 allowance for clothing or accessories worn in "performance of his official duties."
It's about more than winning
• Indiana's Kelvin Sampson, implicated in NCAA violations (improper phone calls to recruits) that resulted in probation for previous employer Oklahoma, can't get postseason-performance or coach-of-the-year bonuses this season.
• San Diego State offers Fisher typical rewards for postseason performance – $20,000 for reaching the NCAA tournament or $50,000 for getting to the Final Four – but with an academic caveat. He's paid only if his team hits NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) benchmarks or its cumulative grade-point average is at least 2.25 and three-quarters of the players post a 2.0 or better.
• Washington's Lorenzo Romar gets $1,250 for each player (up to two) selected to the Pacific-10 Conference's all-academic team and $2,500 if one or more players is an academic All-American. He also pockets $10,000 if his team's GPA is 2.7 or better; $10,000 if the team hits or betters the NCAA's APR benchmark and $10,000 for a 100% graduation rate.
• Kent State's Jim Christian's contract is automatically extended by one year if Kent reaches the NCAA tournament or the NIT, wins 20 games, plays into the conference tournament semifinals or has a team grade-point average above 2.8 plus average attendance of at least 3,500 per home game.
Tickets and travel
• When Tom Izzo leaves Michigan State for any reason other than taking another college coaching job or criminal or NCAA violations, he's entitled to as many as four tickets and one parking pass to home football and basketball games – "with a high likelihood that club seats will be available for football games" – for the rest of his life.
• Ohio State's Thad Matta has use of a private plane for recruiting and other business trips – a private jet when he's traveling more than 200 miles from Columbus, Ohio – up to a cost of $65,000 annually. He also gets 10 hours of private use of a personal jet each year.
• Arizona's Lute Olson gets 13 season tickets for men's basketball, eight for football and four season passes each for baseball, softball and volleyball. He can designate 15 people as members of the school's postseason traveling party, covering tickets, hotels and air travel.
• North Carolina State guarantees Sidney Lowe an advisory role in the school's hiring of a new athletics director and sports information director, among other officials.
• Arkansas ' Stan Heath gets $10,000 a year for housing and other "unusual expenses."
• Utah State provides Stew Morrill with a car or monthly $400 stipend and monthly $150 insurance and $250 gas allowances.
• Ohio State's Matta: An automatic year's extension with a regular-season Big Ten title (which OSU won this season), league tournament title or Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament.
• Kansas ' Bill Self: $50,000 for a regular-season Big 12 title (which KU won) and $25,000 for a conference tournament title.
• Utah State's Morrill: $3,000 apiece for a regular-season conference title or No. 1 seed in the Western Athletic Conference tournament; an undefeated record at home; 20 wins vs. Division I opponents and a sweep of in-state rivals. He also gets $3,000 for each win vs. an ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10, SEC or Mountain West opponent (the Aggies beat Utah) and for each win vs. a team ranked at the time in the Associated Press media poll (they beat Nevada).
• Air Force's Jeff Bzdelik: 10% bonus ($31,500 this season) for 15 wins; 15% ($47,250) for 17 wins and 20% ($63,000) for 20 wins (which the team has exceeded).
For winning the NCAA title
• Second place: Curtis Eichelberger, Bloomberg News
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