When asked about making more money than the president of the United States, Babe Ruth responded, “I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.” That was in 1930, and since then, sports figures have continued to make more money than public employees. According to 24/7 Wall St., the highest paid public employee in 40 of the 50 U.S. states is a collegiate sports coach.

 

Men’s football and basketball coaches at large public institutions are the highest paid of all collegiate coaches. Nick Saban, the head coach of the University of Alabama men’s football team, is the highest paid public employee in the United States. In 2014, he earned approximately $7 million.  

 

The compensation of college athletic coaches has become a controversial subject. On one hand, successful athletic programs, such as the Alabama men’s football team or Kentucky men’s basketball team, are a huge source of revenue for the universities. Ticket, merchandise, and advertising money brought in by these programs is used to fund sports programs that do not have such large and dedicated fan bases. They put the university on the national stage and give it exposure it would otherwise not receive.

 

 

As the revenue generators, athletic programs do deserve a portion of the money they bring in, but this money should not strictly be used to create better athletic facilities and pay coaches higher salaries. A portion — and it can be argued a majority — of the profits brought in by athletic programs should go back to the university to create educational and environmental improvements which will benefit all students.  

 

Dan Lebowitz, the executive director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, explained the rationale behind investing significant amounts of money into athletic programs: “It’s the enormous reach and power of sport. People don’t agree on politics or religion. We live in an increasingly diverse world. The one common denominator is people’s love of sports.”

 

Are the salaries of top college coaches too high? Should the NCAA or the federal government intervene and force colleges to change how they spend their money? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4