DALLAS – Braced for financial trouble, college athletic directors are talking about the possibility of cutting virtually everything in their budgets with the exception of one big-ticket item: coaching salaries.
Specifically, the escalating salaries of football coaches.
While gas prices continue to rise almost unabated, so has compensation for top division football head coaches, who now on average make more than $1 million a year, according to a recent USA Today analysis.
“It’s crazy,” said Ted Leland, former athletic director at Stanford University. “… These coaches get big salaries and people see it as part of winning. I never did. I always liked what I call young up-and-comers.”
So far, even with dire economic forecasts prompting concern across the college sports industry, few schools seem willing to adopt that strategy. But several athletic directors gathered in Texas for an annual convention said they’re grappling with the reality of those skyrocketing salaries contributing to a budget crunch.
Fewer than 10 of the 120 Division I athletic programs that play top-tier football operate at a profit, and that means schools continue to subsidize sports while football coaches continue to pad their wallets. Moreover, schools might have tapped out of money from sources of outside income such as sponsorship deals and ticket surcharges that have helped drive up salaries.