The NCAA Tournament is one of the most profitable events in sports, and the NCAA raked in nearly $1 billion in revenue last year. While the players don’t see any of that money, college basketball coaches are among the best-compensated coaches in any sport.
According to USA Today, 39 of the head coaches that led their teams to the 2015 NCAA Tournament made over $1 million for the year. The coaches who lead the nation’s top programs earn even more than most NBA coaches.
John Calipari has had as much success as any college coach since he was hired by Kentucky in 2010, and he’s been rewarded for his efforts. Calipari made more money than any coach last year at $6,356,756. He was awarded a bonus in addition to his $6 million salary from the school for taking the Wildcats to the Final Four.
Calipari, who is often linked to NBA coaching jobs, will make $7 million for the 2016 season in addition to a retention bonus of $1.6 million that he received on July 31, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell. Kentucky has made the NCAA Tournament in six of Calipari’s seven seasons, and the coach has led the team to four Final Four appearances.
USA Today reports that Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski earned $6,043,979 in 2015, making him college basketball’s second-highest-paid coach in 2015. After Duke won last year’s national title, Fortune reported that Krzyzewski was paid more than $9.6 million for the previous year.
Louisville’s Rick Pitino is the only other coach that made more than $6 million last year. The Cardinals are not participating in March Madness because of a self-imposed postseason ban. Eight months before Louisville decided they wouldn’t play in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, the school gave Pitino a contract extension through the 2025-2026 season. The 10-year deal includes $50.93 million in salary, as well as $7.5 million in retention bonuses that are paid every three years, beginning in 2017.
Kansas’s Bill Self ($4,955,186) and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo ($4,006,955) rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in terms of coaches’ salaries last year. The betting odds and the experts favor a national championship matchup between the Jayhawks and Spartans on April 4. Self has delivered 12 straight Big 12 regular-season championships to Kansas, and Izzo is signed through the 2020-2021 after leading Michigan State to seven Final Fours.
Sean Miller of Arizona ($3,484,500), Bob Huggins of West Virginia ($3,265,000) and Indiana’s Tom Crean ($3,046,250) coach teams that are seeded between No.3 and No.6 in this year's tournament. None of those coaches have ever reached the national title game.
Ohio State and Georgetown both missed the 2016 NCAA Tournament, but their coaches are still among the 10 highest-paid in the sport. Thad Matta made $3,372,000 in 2015, and the Buckeyes missed the Big Dance for the first time since they were ineligible in the coach’s first year with the school in 2005. John Thompson III made $2,838,271 last year, even though the Hoyas haven’t made it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in nine years.
Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan was among the highest paid coaches with a salary of nearly $3 million, but he retired during the season.
Top 10 Highest-Paid Coaches
John Calipari, Kentucky ($6,356,756)
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke ($6,043,979)
Rick Pitino, Louisville ($6,004,529)
Bill Self, Kansas ($4,955,186)
Tom Izzo, Michigan State ($4,006,955)
Sean Miller, Arizona ($3,484,500)
Thad Matta, Ohio State ($3,372,000)
Bob Huggins, West Virginia ($3,265,000)
Tom Crean, Indiana ($3,046,250)
John Thompson III, Georgetown ($2,838,271)