It's no secret that the salaries of NCAA basketball coaches have been on the rise.
But, according to a new USA Today study, those exorbitant compensation packages are now putting a strain on the universities' budgets.
The newspaper's analysis of college sports finance data finds that even athletic programs with traditionally deep pockets are forced to close budget gaps with subsidies.
Amid soaring costs and diminishing revenue, the newspaper points to coaches' salaries has being a main culprit for the cash-strapped colleges.
Just three years ago, the newspaper notes, one men's basketball coach whose school had played in the previous year's NCAA tournament was making at least $2 million. This year, a new version of the study finds nine - including Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Louisville's Rick Pitino, who made more than $4 million.
About $1.8 billion in student fees and university funds went to cover gaps in athletic operating costs at Division I public schools in 2009, the newspaper found. The analysis was based on thousands of pages of inflation-adjusted NCAA athletic data reported since 2005, from open-records requests to hundreds of Division I public schools.
The newspaper cites two teams that played each other in this year's NCAA Tournament: Michigan State and Northern Iowa. Michigan State's $81 million budget last year included $3.7 million in university subsidies, while half of Northern Iowa's $17 million budget came from subsidies and student fees, USA Today reports.
Spartans coach Tom Izzo, who will be participating in his sixth Final Four this weekend, makes more than $3 million a year.
As CBSSports.com Senior Writer Gary Parrish notes, coaches no longer blink at high salary offers - because even "second-tier" Division 1 programs are dishing out the big bucks.
"Even Auburn -- Auburn, for crying out loud -- is paying $1.5 million a year for a basketball coach these days, and it now seems coaches who are comfortable and well-compensated won't uproot their families and start over unless the opportunity presented is presented by one of the nation's truly elite programs," Parrish says.
Meanwhile, Northern Iowa, which made the Sweet 16, faces a financial predicament, USA Today notes. Last week, the state ordered three schools to make plans to "substantially reduce or eliminate" support of athletics from tuition and taxpayer dollars; Northern Iowa had been planning to use booster funds to finance a new deal for coach Ben Jacobson.