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How Much Does the Average Division I Football Coach Earn?

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College football is big business in the U.S. Football programs are a significant revenue source for major colleges and universities, and well-known programs such as Texas, Alabama and Notre Dame bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the institutions. The salaries of Division I college football head coaches have increased dramatically over the last decade, with USA Today reporting that the average salary of a head coach at a major football program has ballooned by more than 70 percent since 2006.

Average Salaries

According to USA Today, the average salary of a head coach at a major Division I football program was $950,000 in 2006. That number had increased to $1.47 million by 2011, and, by 2012, the average major football program head coach salary was up to $1.64 million.

Highest Salaries

Nick Saban, the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, is the highest-paid coach in college football, earning $5.5 million in 2012. Mack Brown, the head coach of the Texas Longhorns is the second highest-paid coach, taking home $5.4 million in 2012. It is no coincidence that the two highest-paid coaches are from two of the most storied, and most lucrative, college football programs in the country.

Assistant Coach Salaries

College football assistant coach salaries have also increased dramatically. A major-college football assistant coach earned an average salary of $200,000 in 2012, according to USA Today. Monte Kiffin, the defensive coordinator at USC was the highest paid at $1.5 million, and Clemson Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris was second with a salary of $1.3 million in 2012.

Coach Salaries Out of Control?

The massive increases in pay for college coaches over the last few years has led to criticism from numerous sources. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former congressperson C. Thomas McMillen wrote an open letter to Division I College Presidents and Governing Boards pointing out that college football coach salaries had increased by 70 percent since 2006. The letter also points out that athletics was only a source of revenue at 14 universities and that student fees supported athletic programs at the other 100-plus Division I academic institutions. Furthermore, public Division I colleges and universities spent approximately $92,000 per student athlete in 2010 but only spent an average of $14,000 per non-athlete student.


Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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