Last Updated Nov 11, 2009 3:40 PM EST
The growing number of assistant football coaches whose salaries easily exceed the pay of tenured college professors or even university presidents was one of the most fascinating findings of a new USA Today series that highlights the megalomania drive of schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision to produce superior football teams.
Delving into pay records, the newspaper found at least 66 assistant football coaches making in excess of $300,000 a year with more than a third of them in the Southeastern Conference. One in four among 893 assistant coaches earned at least $200,000 a year. Five lucky guys pulled in more than $600,000 a year.
The average assistant coach at the University of Texas, for instance, makes more than $327,000. At the University of Tennessee, the nine assistants pull in an average of $369,000. In comparison, the typical full professor's salary at Texas is $132,300 and at Tennessee it's $100,800. The average salary for a full professor at state research universities across the country is $115,509.
When universities defend the hideous pay packages of head football coaches they often claim that these guys are irreplaceable. That's certainly the argument you'd hear from administrators at my alma mater, the University of Missouri, to explain why the salary guarantee of its football coach Gary Pinkel has more than quadrupled in eight years to $2.52 million. During that time, the salaries of Mizzou's assistant coaches have doubled.
But come on. Are the assistants really irreplaceable? Do they deserve these pay bonanzas? The compensation seems especially inappropriate during a period when universities are hiking tuition, slashing classes and laying off professors.
Late last month, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics released a survey of presidents at bowl-division universities that indicated that 85% of them believed that the compensation for football and basketball coaches was excessive. Now would be a great time to do something about it.
Assistant football coach image by Vironevaeh. CC 2.0.