The 25 Highest-Paid College Coaches of 2019

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College Athletics, without a doubt, is big business, and universities stand to make huge sums of money every year on successful programs (the NCAA as a whole reported revenue of $1.1 billion in the 2017 fiscal year). But it takes money to make money, and big universities are willing to write enormous paychecks for coaches who can get the gold (literally and figuratively).

While the median annual salary for an average football coach might be $32,270 (looking at coaches across the board), when you start looking at head coaches at top schools in the NCAA, those numbers skyrocket, surpassing the salaries of everyone else in the university multiple times over.

Moreover, the “big money” in college coaching is concentrated in the two sports with the biggest draw: football takes the cake, with men’s basketball right behind it. In fact, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, your state’s highest–paid public employee is most likely a college football or men’s basketball coach!

Deadspin-coaches-map
Infographic by Deadspin

With that in mind, we have assembled a list of the top 25 highest paid coaches in college sports, ranked by annual salary.

Note that this not a list of the top 25 “highest-earning” coaches, but of the “highest-paid.” We focus solely on what universities pay their coaches as their base salary, and do not include bonuses or any outside income. The numbers shown are drawn from a reliable and accurate annual poll performed by USA Today, based on contract information provided by the schools, and/or publicly available tax return information.

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We have chosen to focus on base salary numbers alone in order to better assess how much money universities are putting into their coaches as a fundamental part of budget and funds distribution. If we were to look at the overall incomes of these coaches, (meaning “highest-earning” coaches) including numbers like bonuses, prize money, and outside income such as endorsement deals or other sources, the rankings would certainly shift, and the numbers would be higher across the board.

To ensure accuracy in the rankings, the figures shown all reflect pay for the 2017–18 athletic season. Some of these coaches can expect raises in the 2018–19 season, but because it is not yet over (and taxes have yet to be reported by the schools), it would be difficult to accurately determine who ranks where in the current season for both football and men’s basketball. So, ranked below are the 25 highest–paid coaches going into 2019. We can safely say, however, that we expect these rankings to shift again after the 2018–19 season draws to a close.

The Highest Paid College Coaches in 2019

1. Mike Krzyzewski — $8,982,325

Duke University; Men’s Basketball

Mike KrzyzewskiMike Krzyzewski (pronounced “sha-shef-ski”), also known as “Coach K,” (pronounced “Coach K”) has been the head coach of men’s basketball for the Duke University Blue Devils since 1980. Prior to coaching at Duke, Krzyzewski played basketball under Coach Bob Knight at the United States Military Academy, and began his career as an assistant coach under Knight with the Indiana Hoosiers in the 1974–75 season. Krzyzewski became the head coach at Army 1975–80, before taking his current position as head coach of Duke immediately thereafter.

Krzyzewski has an impressive resume with Duke, having lead the Blue Devils to five NCAA Championships (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, and 2015), 12 Final Fours, 12 ACC regular season titles, and 14 ACC Tournament Championships. In addition to his day job at Duke, Krzyzewski also had a side–job as head coach of the US Men’s national basketball team. As head coach, Krzyzewski has six gold medals to his name, earned from the last three consecutive Summer Olympics games, the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships, and the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship. If you include gold medals acquired through assistant coaching, this number extends to nine total.

Krzyzewski has received many awards and honors, including Basketball Times National Coach of the Year (1986 and 1997), Naismith College Coach of the Year (1989, 1992, and 1999), NABC Coach of the Year (1991 and 1993), ACC Coach of the Year (1984, 1986, 1997, 1999, and 2000), and has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame twice: individually in 2001, and in 2010 as part of the 1992 Olympic “dream team.”

Oh, and Coach K holds the record for most career wins in college basketball history. Entering the 2018–19 season, Krzyzewski’s overall record as head coach in the NCAA is 1100–338, with a record of 1027–279 at Duke.

2. Nick Saban — $8,307,000

University of Alabama; Football

Nick SabanHaving just wrapped up his 11th season, Nick Saban has been the head coach of football for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide since 2007. Saban has had a successful, but varied career, with assistant coaching positions in college football in numerous places, beginning with Kent State in 1973 and later Louisiana State University from 2000–04. He has also held assistant coaching positions in the NFL with the Houston Oilers and the Cleveland Browns, as well as a head coaching position from 2005–06 with the Miami Dolphins, where he was most recently employed prior to coming to Alabama.

Saban has six national championship titles to his name, including four Bowl Championship Series titles in 2009, 2011, and 2012, and the College Football Playoff National Championship in 2015 and 2017, all with Alabama, as well as a BCS championship with LSU in 2003. Together, these make him the first coach in football history to win a National Championship with two different Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools.

In addition to that, Saban has eight SEC championship titles to his name, which puts him second only to Paul “Bear” Bryant, the legendary Alabama coach who had 14. They share the distinction of being the only two coaches to win SEC championships at two different schools in their career.

There are a whole slew of “Coach of the Year” awards in Saban’s trophy room, including those from the AP (2003 and 2008) and from the SEC (2003, 2008, 2009, and 2016), as well as the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award (2003 and 2008), the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award (2008 and 2018), the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (2014), and the George Munger Award (2016) just to name a few. In 2003, Saban received the Paul “Bear” Bryant award, and in 2008, Forbes magazine named Saban “The Most Powerful Coach in Sports.” Many consider him to be the greatest college football coach of all time.

However, due to NCAA violations with the Alabama Athletics programs involving athletes among several sports, the football team’s 2007 record was vacated of most of its wins.

After the 2018–19 season, Saban’s overall official coaching record in the NCAA is 232–63–1, with a record of 146–21 at Alabama.

3. Urban Meyer — $7,600,000

Ohio State University; Football

Urban Meyer Now retired as of December 2018, Urban Meyer was the head coach of football for the Ohio State University Buckeyes, having taken the position in 2012. Prior to that, he was the head coach at the University of Florida, the University of Utah, and Bowling Green State University. Meyer began his coaching career as an assistant coach, starting with St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1985 before taking college assistant coaching positions at Ohio State University, Illinois State University, Colorado State University, and the University of Notre Dame. Following an ethics investigation in 2018, Meyer retired from coaching, citing health issues.

Meyer coached his way to three national titles, with two BCS National Championship wins while at the University of Florida (2006 and 2008), as well as a College Football Playoff Championship with OSU in 2014, making him one of three coaches to win a major national championship at two different universities (the others being Nick Saban and Pop Warner). Meyer has accumulated numerous other titles as well, including two SEC championships (2006 and 2008, with Florida), and three Big Ten championships (2014, 2017, and 2018).

In addition to his wins, Meyer has received many coaching honors and awards, including Sports Illustrated Coach of the Decade (2009), the George Munger Award (2004), the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award (2004), the Woody Hayes Trophy (2004) and The Sporting News National Coach of the Year (2003).

After the 2018–19 season, Meyer’s overall coaching record is 187–32, with a record of 83–9 at OSU.

4. Jim Harbaugh — $7,504,000

University of Michigan; Football

Jim HarbaughJim Harbaugh is currently the head coach of football for the University of Michigan Wolverines, now in his fourth season after having taken the position in 2015.

All of the coaches on this list are former players of their particular sport, and some of them have had decent college playing careers, and even short professional careers. Harbaugh is unique (though not alone) in that he had a significantly long professional playing career in the NFL (1987–2001), starting with the Chicago Bears, and moved around quite a bit, until ending his career with the Carolina Panthers. During this time, he began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach at Western Kentucky University in 1994, under his father Jack Harbaugh, who was then the head coach at the university.

After the end of his playing career, Harbaugh became an assistant coach to the Oakland Raiders in 2002, before taking his first head coaching position at the University of San Diego in 2004, then to Stanford University in 2007 where he achieved moderate success, winning the Orange Bowl in 2011. In this time, he was also awarded a Woody Hayes Coach of the Year Award (2010). Harbaugh then went back to the NFL, coaching the San Francisco 49ers (and taking them to Super Bowl XLVII in 2013), before coming to Michigan. So far, Michigan has won the 2016 Citrus Bowl under Harbaugh.

After the 2018–19 season, Harbaugh’s overall coaching record in the NCAA is 67–35, with a record of 38–14 at Michigan.

5. Jimbo Fisher — $7,500,00

Texas A&M University; Football

Jimbo FischerStarting with the 2018–19 season, Jimbo Fisher currently holds the position of head coach of football for the Texas A&M University Aggies, replacing Kevin Sumlin. Prior to this point, the entirety of Jimbo Fisher’s career as a head coach has been spent with the Florida State University Seminoles, a position he held from 2010 until resigning December 1, 2017, following a disappointing season.

Fisher began his career as an assistant coach at Samford University in 1988, and went on to Auburn University, the University of Cincinnati, and Louisiana State University before arriving at FSU. Initially Fisher coached the Quarterbacks and was the Offensive coordinator under the previous head coach, Bobby Bowden. Fisher was announced as “head coach in waiting,” and when Bowden announced his retirement at the end of the 2009–10 season, Fisher was quickly moved into the position. In eight seasons, Fisher lead Florida State University to a BCS National Championship title (2013), four ACC championship titles (2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016) and four ACC Atlantic Division Titles (2010, 2012–14). Though his first season at Texas A&M was a winning season, he has yet to produce any new titles.

After the 2018–19 season, Fisher’s coaching record is 92–27, with a record of 9–4 at Texas A&M University.

6. John Calipari — $7,450,000

University of Kentucky; Men’s Basketball

John CalipariJohn Calipari is the head coach of men’s basketball for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, holding that position since 2009. Calipari began his coaching career as an assistant coach in 1982 at the University of Kansas, and then went to the University of Pittsburgh before landing his first head coaching position at the University of Massachusetts in 1988. In 1996, Calipari went to the NBA to coach the New Jersey Nets, and then became an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1999, before returning to the NCAA as a head coach at the University of Memphis in 2000. In 2011 and 2012, he was also the head coach of the Dominican Republic national basketball team.

Calipari has had great success as a college coach throughout his career, most notably as the coach of Kentucky men’s basketball, where he has achieved an NCAA championship title (2012), four NCAA Final Four appearances (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015), and six SEC tournament titles (2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018(, as well as tying the record for most wins in a single season, with 38–2 in 2012. By the way, the record he tied was his own, which he set with Memphis in 2008. With the Dominican Republic, Calipari has also earned a gold medal from the 2012 Centrobasket tournament.

Numerous coaching honors are attached to Calipari’s name, including Naismith College Coach of the Year (1996, 2008, and 2015), Associated Press Coach of the Year (2015), NABC Coach of the Year (1996, 2009, and 2015), Basketball Times Coach of the Year (1996) and he has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Calipari received the Adolph Rupp Cup in 2010, and again in 2015.

Looking at his college head–coaching career as a whole, Calipari has actually been to six Final Fours, including a 2008 appearance with Memphis, and a 1996 appearance with UMass. However, Calipari has been followed by some amount of controversy. In 1996, the NCAA vacated UMass of their tournament wins, and in 2008 the NCAA vacated Memphis of their entire season. Because of this, those two Final Four appearances, as well as Calipari’s first 38–win record setting season, have been wiped from his official record. He was not, however, personally implicated in either of these scandals.

Entering the 2018–19 season, Calipari’s official overall coaching record in the NCAA is 730–207, with a record of 285–67 at Kentucky.

7. Chris Holtmann — $7,149,849

Ohio State University; Basketball

Chris Holtmann, Ohio State University Basketball CoachNow entering his second season as head coach of men’s basketball at Ohio State University, Chris Holtmann has seven seasons as a head coach in total. Like many, Holtmann began his career as an assistant coach, with his first position in 1998 at Geneva College. From there he held AC positions at Taylor University, Gardner–Webb University, and Ohio University before landing his first head coach appointment back at Gardner–Webb in 2010. In 2013, Holtmann became assistant coach at Butler University, before becoming head coach there the following year, and finally, arriving as head coach of OSU in 2017.

Though he has yet to win any titles, Holtmann has taken teams to four NCAA tournament appearances, most recently with OSU in 2018. Over the course of his coaching career Holtmann has earned awards such as Big South Coach of the Year (2013), Big East Coach of the Year (2017), Big Ten Coach of the Year (2018), the John McLendon National Coach of the Year (2017) and the Jim Phelan Award (2018)

Entering the 2018–19 season, Holtmann’s overall NCAA coaching record is 139–94, with a record of 25–9 in his first season at Ohio State University.

8. Gus Malzahn — $6,700,000

Auburn University; Football

Gus MalzahnGus Malzahn is currently the head coach of football for the Auburn University Tigers, holding that position since 2013. Malzahn began his career as an assistant coach at Hughes High School in Hughes, Arkansas in 1991, going to two other high schools before coming to college ball at the University of Arkansas in 2006. He then worked as an assistant coach at the University of Tulsa, and even Auburn, before landing his first head coaching job at Arkansas State University in 2012 (for only one season), where he lead the team to a Sun Belt Conference Championship title.

Malzahn became famous in his first year at Auburn for pulling off a huge single–season team turnaround. Malzahn had inherited a losing team from the previous coach, Gene Chizik, who in their 2012–13 season saw the team’s worst results in 60 years, finishing 3–9, with a perfect 0–8 in SEC conference play. After Malzahn took over in 2013, the team showed remarkable improvement. In his first season there, Malzahn’s Tigers finished with a 12–2 record that included an Iron Bowl upset victory over Alabama, which ended in one of the most memorable game–winning plays in recent years. That same year, Malzahn lead the team to an SEC Championship victory over Missouri. The team also made it to the BCS National Championship that year, though they lost to Florida State.

In his brief time as a head coach (six seasons) Malzahn has accumulated an impressive clutch of awards. Almost all of them were awarded in 2013. The list includes: SEC Coach of the Year, Home Depot Coach of the Year, Sporting News Coach of the Year, Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, AP College Football Coach of the Year, Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, and to top it all off, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award. In addition to that, Malzahn received a Broyles Award for his efforts as an assistant coach at Auburn in 2010, the same year they won the BCS National Championship.

After the 2018–19 season, Malzahn has an overall coaching record of 62–30, with a 53–27 record at Auburn.

9. Kirby Smart — $6,603,600

University of Georgia; Football

Kirby Smart, University of Georgia, Football CoachSituated among those with the shortest record as head coach on this list, Kirby Smart just wrapped up his third season as head coach of football, all at the University of Georgia. Beginning as an administrative assistant at the University of Georgia, Smart worked his way up through the ranks in a variety of positions at numerous schools, including defensive back coach at Valdosta State University, graduate assistant at Florida State University, defensive back coach at Louisiana State University, and assistant head coach at the University of Alabama.

In his time at Georgia, Smart has lead the team to a Liberty Bowl win (2016) a Rose Bowl Win (2017) and a College Football Championship appearance. Smart earned a Broyles award in 2009, AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2012, and SEC Coach of the Year in 2017.

After the 2018–19 season, Smart’s overall NCAA coaching record is 32–10, all of it at Georgia.

10. Dabo Swinney — $6,205,000

Clemson University; Football

Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney is currently the head coach of football for the Clemson University Tigers, holding that position since 2008, making up the entirety of his career as head coach. Swinney began his career with an assistant coaching position at the University of Alabama in 1993, where he stayed for 10 years before going to Clemson in 2003. In 2008, Swinney was named the interim head coach at Clemson after the previous head coach, Tommy Bowden, resigned mid–season. Swinney became the full–time head coach shortly thereafter.

Though Swinney’s first season (or, half–season) as head coach at Clemson wasn’t particularly impressive, he did manage to break their six–game losing streak and come out with a winning season of 4–3. After Swinney took over full–time, Clemson’s team significantly improved, with an Orange Bowl win, and a College Football National Championship title in 2016, and most recently, a 15–0 season in 2018 another National Championship title. Under Swinney’s lead, Clemson has won five ACC Championships (2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018), as well as seven ACC Atlantic Division titles (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018).

2015 was a big year for Swinney. In addition to Clemson’s ACC Championship, Swinney received numerous awards, including the ACC Coach of the Year Award (and again in 2018), the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award, the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award, the Associated Press College Football Coach of the Year Award, the Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year Award, and to top it off, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award. Previously, in 2011, Swinney received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award.

After the 2018–19 season, Swinney has an overall coaching record of 116–30, all at Clemson.

11. Dan Mullen — $6,070,000

University of Florida; Football

Dan MullenPrior to the 2018–19 season, Dan Mullen spent the entirety of his time as head coach in football for the Mississippi State University Bulldogs, holding the position since 2009. In November 2017, Mullen resigned from Mississippi State University and signed a deal to become head coach for the University of Florida Gators, replacing Jim McElwain, where Mullen currently coaches, having just wrapped up his first season.

Mullen began his career as an assistant coach at Wagner College in 1994, and held positions at Columbia University, Syracuse University, the University of Notre Dame, Bowling Green State University, the University of Utah, and the University of Florida before arriving at Mississippi State as head coach.

Though he never lead Mississippi State to an SEC Championship title, Mullen had marked success with the team in his efforts to restore it to the former glory it saw during the Allyn McKeen era (1939–48). Mullen took over the position after the previous coach, Sylvester Croom, was asked to resign in 2009. Out of Croom’s five seasons at Mississippi State, four of them were losing, and at the end of his tenure Croom posted a 21–38 record with the school. Mullen managed to cause a significant turnaround in the team, with seven seasons out of nine being winning seasons.

In the 2014–15 season, the Bulldogs saw their first No.1 AP ranking in 80 years. With the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl, the team set a new school record of seven–consecutive bowl appearances. Among those appearances, the team has won the 2010 Gator Bowl, the 2011 Music City Bowl, the 2013 Liberty Bowl, and the 2015 Belk Bowl. Though he has not seen quite as much success yet at Florida, Mullen did lead the team to a 2018 Peach Bowl win.

For his time as head coach at Mississippi State, Mullen has been awarded the George Munger Award in 2014 (making him the first coach in school history to even be nominated for a national coach of the year award), as well as the AP SEC Coach of the Year Award (2014), the AFCA Region two Coach of the Year Award (2014), and the Athlon SEC Coach of the Year Award (2014).

After the 2018–19 season, Mullen’s overall coaching record is 79–49, with a 10–3 record at Florida.

12. Tom Herman — $5,500,000

University of Texas; Football

Tom Herman, University of TexasThe name with the shortest tenure as head coach on this list, Tom Herman just wrapped up his second season as head coach of football for the University of Texas Longhorns, and only his fourth season as head coach overall. However, Herman has two decades of experience in various assistant coaching positions, starting in 1998 at Texas Lutheran University as a receivers coach, then to University of Texas, Sam Houston State University, Texas State University, Rice University, Iowa State University, and Ohio State University.

In 2015, Herman landed his first job as head coach, replacing Tony Levine at the University of Houston. Herman led Houston to a major turnaround, finishing the season with the 13–1 record and a Peach Bowl title. In 2017, Herman entered his current position at the University of Texas, and finished the season with a win at the Texas Bowl. In 2018, Texas won Sugar Bowl under Herman’s leadership. Herman has two awards to his name: the 2015 American Coach of the Year award, and the 2014 Broyles Award.

After the 2018–19 season Tom Herman’s overall coaching record is 39–14, with a record of 17–10 at the University of Texas.

13. Willie Taggart (tie) — $5,000,000

Florida State University; Football

Willie Taggart, Florida State University, Football CoachWrapping up his first season as head coach of football at Florida State University with a losing record of 5–7, Willie Taggart hasn’t quite turned the team around since replacing Jimbo Fisher. Now with nine head coaching seasons under his belt, Taggart has landed in the middle of this list, despite an overall losing record and having earned no awards or bowl titles.

Taggart began his career in 1999, occupying various offensive coaching positions at his alma mater, Western Kentucky University, where he had previously played quarterback. Taggart later became the WKU head coach in 2010, before moving to the University of South Florida, then the University of Oregon, and finally arriving at his current job in 2018.

After the 2018–19 season, Taggart’s overall NCAA coaching record is 52–57, with a record of 5–7 at Florida State University.

13. Scott Frost (tie) — $5,000,000

University of Nebraska; Football

Scott Frost, University of Nebraska, Football CoachWith one season at the University of Nebraska under his belt, Scott Frost only has three seasons as head coach of football overall on his resume. Frost entered coaching as a graduate assistant at Nebraska, in 2002. In 2006, he was a graduate assistant at Kansas State University, before becoming a linebackers coach at the University of Northern Iowa in 2007. From there, Frost went on to work at the University of Oregon before taking his first head coaching position at the University of Central Florida in 2016.

At UCF, Frost saw two winning seasons, including a perfect 13–0 season in 2017 and a Peach Bowl win. In 2018, Frost entered his current position at Nebraska. In his brief time as head coach, Frost has earned numerous awards, including AAC Coach of the Year (2017), AFCA Coach of the Year (2017), AP College Football Coach of the Year (2017), Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (2017), FCA Coach of the Year (2017), Home Depot Coach of the Year (2017), and the Paul “Bear” Bryant award (2017).

After the 2018–19 season, Frost’s overall NCAA coaching record is 23–15, with a record of 4–8 at the University of Nebraska.

13. Mike Gundy (tie) — $5,000,000

Oklahoma State University; Football

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State University, football coachMike Gundy has spent the entirety of his 14 seasons as head coach of football for the Oklahoma State University Cowboys. In addition to that, Gundy has spent quite a bit of time at OSU, playing for them as an undergraduate, and starting his career as an assistant coach in 1990 under then–head coach Pat Jones. After assistant coaching jobs at Baylor University and the University of Maryland, Gundy returned to Oklahoma State University, beginning his long tenure as head coach and replacing Bob Simmons in 2001.

For his time at OSU, Gundy has lead the team to a Big 12 championship in 2011, and a Big 12 South Division Championship in 2010 and 2016, as well as a handful of bowl titles. Moreover, Gundy has been named Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2010, Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year in 2011, and received the 2011 Paul “Bear” Bryant award.

After the 2018–19 season, Gundy’s overall coaching record is 121–59, all of it at Oklahoma State University.

13. Lovie Smith (tie) — $5,000,000

University of Illinois; Football

Lovie Smith, University of Illinois, Football coachDespite being in only his third season of head coaching college football at the University of Illinois, Lovie Smith has 15 year of experience as a head coach overall, with the bulk of his time having been spent in the NFL. Smith entered coaching as a defensive coordinator at Big Sandy High School in Texas. He landed his first college–level position in 1983 at the University of Tulsa as a linebacker coach, and proceeded to take numerous assistant coaching positions at colleges including the University of Wisconsin, Arizona State University, the University of Kentucky, and Ohio State University. In 2004, Smith took his first head coaching position for the Chicago Bears NFL Team, and was fired in 2012. In 2014 he became head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was fired after two seasons, and finally arrived at the University of Illinois in 2016.

Notably, Smith’s coaching records at both the pro and collegiate levels are not particularly good. Overall, his NCAA record is a losing record, of 9–27, while his NFL record barely qualifies as winning, standing at 89–87. Despite that, Smith has landed himself in the middle of our list, and earned an NFL Coach of the Year award in 2005. So far he has yet to bring home any titles or awards at Illinois.

After the 2018–19 season, Smith’s overall NCAA coaching record is 9–27, all of it at the University of Illinois.

17. Gary Patterson — $4,840,717

Texas Christian University; Football

Gary PattersonGary Patterson is currently the head coach of football for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, for whom he has spent the entirety of his time as head coach, having held the position since 2000. Patterson began his career as an assistant coach at Kansas State University in 1982. He went on to work at numerous other schools, including UC Davis, and Pittsburg State University, before taking his first head coaching position in 1992 with the Oregon Lightning Bolts in the Professional Spring Football League.

(If you are thinking that you’ve never heard of the Lightning Bolts, or even the PSFL, that’s not surprising: the PSFL went under in 1992, just days before the scheduled season opener could be played).

Patterson soon returned to the NCAA as an assistant coach at Utah State University, then to Navy, the University of New Mexico, and finally to TCU. Patterson took over as head coach after the previous coach, Dennis Franchione accepted a position as head coach at Alabama, and abruptly left prior to the 2000 Mobile Alabama Bowl. Patterson was quickly hired on as head coach at TCU, though the team lost the bowl, posting a 0–1 record for his first season.

Patterson has had great success at TCU, holding the record for the most wins in school history. He has lead the team to victory at a C–USA Championship (2002), four MWC Championships (2005 and 2009–11) and a Big Twelve Championship (2014); the variation is due to the fact that TCU has changed conferences numerous times in its history. Patterson has also lead the team to many bowl wins, including the 2010 Rose Bowl (the same season in which the team saw a perfect 13–0 record) and the 2017 Alamo Bowl.

Patterson has many awards to his name, including the Paul “Bear” Bryant award (2014), a George Munger Award (2009), a Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (2009), the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award (2009 and 2014), the Woody Hayes Trophy (2009 and 2014), the AFCA Coach of the Year Award (2009 and 2014), and the AP Coach of the Year Award (2009 and 2014), among others.

After the 2018–19 season, Patterson’s overall NCAA coaching record is 167–63, all of it at Texas Christian University.

18. Lincoln Riley (tie) — $4,800,000

University of Oklahoma; Football

Lincoln Riley, University of Oklahoma; Football coachesWith only two seasons as head coach of football to his name (and both of them at the University of Oklahoma), Lincoln Riley is the freshest face on this list. In that time, Riley has managed a win percentage of 0.857, and two bowl appearances, at the 2017 Rose Bowl, and the 2018 Orange bowl. Riley entered the profession as a student assistant in 2003 to Mike Leach at Texas Tech University, and eventually a receivers coach. Riley later became an offensive coordinator at East Carolina University in 2010, then at Oklahoma in 2015 under Bob Stoops, before taking his current position there in 2017 following Stoops’ retirement. In 2018, earned Big 12 Coach of the Year and AP Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.

After the 2018–19 season, Riley’s overall NCAA coaching record is 24–4, all at the University of Oklahoma.

18. James Franklin (tie) — $4,800,000

Pennsylvania State University; Football

James FranklinJames Franklin is currently the head coach of football for the Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions, holding that position since 2014. Franklin began his career as an assistant coach at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania in 1994, and hopped around to numerous places, including Idaho State University and the University of Maryland. In 2005, he worked in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, before returning to the NCAA in 2006 with Kansas State University. In 2011, Franklin landed his first head–coaching job at Vanderbilt University, where he stayed for three seasons, before arriving at Penn State.

Franklin has lead Penn State to a Big Ten Championship Title and a Big Ten East Division Title in 2016, as well as success at the 2017 Fiesta Bowl, the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl, and a berth in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl. While at Vanderbilt, Franklin lead the team to wins at the 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl, and the 2012 Music City Bowl. In 2016, Franklin Received the Dave McClain Coach of the Year Award, as well as the Sporting News Coach of the Year Award.

After the 2012 Sandusky scandal fallout, the program at Penn State was significantly wounded, and (among other sanctions and restrictions) the team was banned from post–season play during its two seasons under head coach Bill O’Brien (2012–14). After Franklin took over, the ban was lifted. Franklin has said that he wants to return the team to its previous level of dominance, and so far the results he is producing show he that he may just be able to do it.

After the 2018–19 season, Franklin’s overall coaching record is 69–36, with a 45–21 record at Penn State.

20. Bill Self — $4,779,877

University of Kansas; Men’s Basketball

Bill SelfBill Self has been the head coach of men’s basketball for the University of Kansas Jayhawks since 2003. Self began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Kansas in 1985, before going on to Oklahoma State. In 1993 he became head coach at Oral Roberts University, going on to the University of Tulsa and the University of Illinois, before arriving at his current position with Kansas.

Now entering his 16th season with the Jayhawks, Self has lead the team to Big Twelve regular season championship titles for the last 14 consecutive seasons, as well as eight Big Twelve tournament championships, three Final Four appearances (2008, 2012, and 2018), and to top it off, an NCAA championship title in 2008. Additionally, Self lead the US national team (primarily composed of Kansas players) to gold at the World University Games in 2015, and the US FIBA team to a 2018 gold medal.

Self is a winning coach. Between 2009 and 2013, Kansas had four consecutive 30–win seasons, the most in NCAA history (tying only with Memphis, who has since been disqualified of this record due to the vacated 2008 season). Self is known for taking the team on long win streaks, with the longest being a 69 home game win streak that ended in 2011. In his first 10 seasons with Kansas, the team achieved 300 wins, more than any other NCAA team in the previous 10 years.

Self has many awards and honors to his name, including NABC Coach of the Year (2016), USA Today National Coach of the Year (2016), AP College Coach of the Year (2009 and 2016), Naismith College Coach of the Year (2012), the Adolph Rupp Cup (2012), and Big Twelve Coach of the Year (2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2017, and 2018).

Entering the 2018–19 season, Self’s overall record is 654–201, with a record of 447–96 at Kansas.

21. Kirk Ferentz — $4,700,000

University of Iowa; Football

Kirk FerentzSince 1999, Kirk Ferentz has held the title of head coach of football for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. Ferentz began his career in 1977 as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Connecticut, where he had previously been a linebacker. He went on to work as an assistant coach at Worcester Academy (a boarding school) as well as at the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Iowa, before taking his first head coaching position at the University of Maine, 1990–92. After, he worked as an assistant coach in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens, before coming to Iowa as the current head coach.

After a miserable first two seasons at Iowa (going 4–19), Ferentz turned the team around, leading it to a winning record. The team has won two Big Ten championships (2002 and 2004), a Big Ten West division title in 2015, and a BCS Bowl win at the 2009 Orange Bowl, as well as the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl and the 2018 Outback Bowl. For his time at Iowa, Ferentz has earned numerous awards and honors, including the AP College Football Coach of the Year Award (2002), the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award (2002), the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (2015), and the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award (2002, 2004, 2009, and 2015).

After the 2018–19 season, Ferentz’s overall NCAA coaching record is 143–97, all of it at Iowa.

22. Mark Dantonio — $4,390,417

Michigan State University; Football

Mark DantonioMark Dantonio is the head coach of football for the Michigan State University Spartans, holding the position since 2007. Dantonio began his career in 1980 as an assistant coach at Ohio University (the Bobcats, not the Buckeyes), and held other assistant coaching positions at numerous places, including Ohio State University, the University of Kansas, and Michigan State, before landing his first head coaching job at the University of Cincinnati in 2004, and eventually arriving as head coach at Michigan State.

During his tenure at Michigan State, Dantonio has had marked success with the program, coaching the Spartans to their first 13–win season (2013–14), and eight wins in the last ten years over their arch–rivals, the University of Michigan. Dantonio has achieved all of his major coaching successes while at Michigan State, leading the team to a Big Ten East Division Title in 2015, two Big Ten Legends Division titles (2011 and 2013), and three Big Ten Conference Championships (2010, 2013, and 2015). After a disappointing 2015–16 season, Dantonio brought the team back up in 2016–17 with a 10–3 record and a win at the Holiday Bowl. 2018, however, did not go quite as well.

In his time at Michigan State, Dantonio has been awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year (2010 and 2013), and been inducted into the Bugle Sports Hall of Fame (2012).

After the 2018–19 season, Dantonio’s overall coaching record is 125–68, with a record of 107–51 at Michigan State.

23. Chris Petersen — $4,375,000

University of Washington; Football

Chris Petersen, University of WashingtonChris Petersen has just wrapped up his fifth season as head coach of football for the University of Washington Huskies, a position he has held since 2014. Petersen began his career as an assistant coach in 1987 at UC Davis, before going on to the University of Pittsburgh, Portland State University, the University of Oregon, and Boise State University. After head coach Dan Hawkins left Boise State, Petersen took over the position, with notable success. In eight seasons, Petersen saw a record of 92–12.

While head coach at Boise State University, Petersen lead the team to four WAC championships (2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010) as well as a Mountain West title in 2012. At the University of Washington Petersen has achieved two Pac–12 championship title in 2016 and 2018, as well as three Pac–12 North Division titles (2016, 2017, and 2018). Petersen has received the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award twice, in 2006 and 2009, and was named Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year in 2010.

After the 2018–19 season, Petersen’s overall coaching record is 139–33, with a record of 47–21 at the University of Washington.

24. David Shaw — $4,311,543

Stanford University; Football

David ShawDavid Shaw is currently the head coach of football for the Stanford University Cardinal, for whom he has spent the entirety of his career as head coach, after taking the position in 2011. Shaw started his career as an assistant coach at Western Washington University in 1995 before going to the NFL in 1997 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He then worked with the Oakland Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens before returning to the NCAA in 2006 at the University of San Diego. In 2007, Shaw arrived at Stanford, where he was initially an assistant coach under Jim Harbaugh. Shaw took over as head coach after Harbaugh left for the NFL.

In only eight seasons of coaching total, Shaw has posted impressive results, with a 0.759 overall win percentage, and three Pac–12 Championships (2012, 2013, and 2015), as well as two Rose Bowl wins (2012 and 2015) in three appearances. For his time as head coach, Shaw has been named Pac–12 Coach of the Year four times (2011, 2012, 2015, and 2017), received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award in 2017, and has been a Paul “Bear” Bryant finalist four times.

After the 2018–19 season, Shaw’s overall coaching record is 82–26, all of it at Stanford.

25. Will Muschamp — $4,200,000

University of South Carolina; Football

Will Muschamp, University of South Carolina, Football CoachesNow with three seasons under his belt as head coach of football at the University of South Carolina, Will Muschamp has seven years of head coaching experience overall. Muschamp entered the field as a graduate assistant in 1995 at Auburn University before going on to hold defensive backs coach positions at the University of West Georgia, Eastern Kentucky University, and Valdosta State University. In 2001, Muschamp became linebacker coach under Nick Saban at Louisiana State University. In 2005, Muschamp left the NCAA for a season as assistant head coach of the Miami Dolphins NFL team.

Following positions at Auburn University and the University of Texas, Muschamp finally landed his first head coaching job at the University of Florida in 2011, where he held the position for four seasons. In his time there, Muschamp lead the team to a 2011 Gator Bowl win, and a 2012 Sugar Bowl appearance. Also, Muschamp earned an SEC Co–Coach of the Year award in 2012. In 2014 Muschamp left Florida to become defensive coordinator of Auburn University for a season, before being announced as the new head coach of the University of South Carolina in 2015. At USC, Muschamp has lead the team to a 2016 Birmingham Bowl appearance, a 2017 Outback Bowl win, and a 2018 Belk Bowl appearance.

After the 2018–19 season, Muschamp’s overall NCAA coaching record is 50–38, with a record of 22–17 at the University of South Carolina.

Previous Entries

The following list reflects coaches who appeared on the previous (2018) version of this list, but who have since been removed for various reasons. They are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Bret Bielema

Formerly the head coach of football at the University of Arkansas, Bret Bielema was fired at the end of 2017, with a losing record over five seasons. Currently he is a consultant to the head coach of the New England Patriots NFL team.

Butch Jones

Formerly the head coach of football at the University of Tennessee, Butch Jones was fired in November 2017 following a major loss to the University of Missouri. Jones is currently an associate head coach and tight end coach for the University of Maryland football team.

Jim McElwain

Formerly the head coach of football at the University of Florida, Jim McElwain was fired in October of 2017. In December of 2018 he took the position of head coach at Central Michigan University (replacing John Bonamego), though he has yet to coach them through a game, and no salary information is currently available.

Bobby Petrino

Were Bobby Petrino still the head coach of football at the University of Louisville, his paltry salary of only $3,980,434 would not qualify him for this list. However, he may not appear on future lists either, as he was fired mid–season in November 2018 after racking up a major record of losses (2–8 for the season) and is currently unemployed.

Rick Pitino

Formerly a high–ranking name on this list, Rick Pitino was fired as head coach of men’s basketball at the University of Louisville in October 2017 following a series of scandals, including a vacated NCAA 2013 championship win (the only one in the history of the NCAA), hiring escorts to entertain recruits, and “pay for play” recruiting practices (the athletic director, Tom Jurich, was also fired). Despite all of that, Pitino is currently the head coach of the Panathinaikos professional basketball team in Greece.

Rich Rodriguez

After a three–month investigation into sexual harassment claims filed by a former administrative assistant, Rich Rodriguez was fired from his position as head coach of football at the University of Arizona in January 2018. He is currently offensive coordinator for Ole Miss.

Kevin Sumlin

After six seasons as head coach of football at Texas A&M University, Kevin Sumlin was fired in November 2017. He then replaced Rich Rodriguez at the University of Arizona, where he is currently making $1,600,000, falling far short of this list.

The 25 Highest Paid College Football Coaches of 2019

Rank Coach Salary School Sport
1. Nick Saban $8,307,000 University of Alabama Football
2. Urban Meyer $7,600,000 Ohio State University Football
3. Jim Harbaugh $7,504,000 University of Michigan Football
4. Jimbo Fisher $7,500,000 Texas A&M University Football
5. Gus Malzahn $6,700,000 Auburn University Football
6. Kirby Smart $6,603,600 University of Georgia Football
7. Dabo Swinney $6,205,000 Clemson University Football
8. Dan Mullen $6,070,000 University of Florida Football
9. Tom Herman $5,500,000 University of Texas Football
10. (tie) Scott Frost $5,000,000 University of Nebraska Football
10. (tie) Mike Gundy $5,000,000 Oklahoma State University Football
10. (tie) Willie Taggart $5,000,000 Florida State University Football
10. (tie) Lovie Smith $5,000,000 University of Illinois Football
14. Gary Patterson $4,840,717 Texas Christian University Football
15. (tie) James Franklin $4,800,000 Penn State University Football
15. (tie) Lincoln Riley $4,800,000 University of Oklahoma Football
17. Kirk Ferentz $4,700,000 University of Iowa Football
18. Mark Dantonio $4,390,417 Michigan State University Football
19. Chris Petersen $4,375,000 University of Washington Football
20. David Shaw $4,311,543 Stanford University Football
21. Will Muschamp $4,200,000 University of South Carolina Football
22. Mark Richt $4,058,061 University of Miami Football
23. (tie) Mark Stoops $4,000,000 University of Kentucky Football
23. (tie) Justin Fuente $4,000,000 Virginia Tech Football
25. Jeremy Pruitt $3,846,000 University of Tennessee Football

The 12 Highest Paid Men’s College Basketball Coaches of 2019

Rank Coach Salary School Sport
1. Mike Krzyzewski $8,982,325 Duke University Basketball
2. John Calipari $7,450,000 University of Kentucky Basketball
3. Chris Holtmann $7,149,849 Ohio State University Basketball
4. Bill Self $4,779,877 University of Kansas Basketball
5. Bob Huggins $3,750,000 University of West Virginia Basketball
6. Sean Miller $3,654,979 University of Arizona Basketball
7. Tom Izzo $3,652,979 Michigan State University Basketball
8. Larry Krystkowiak $3,390,000 University of Utah Basketball
9. John Beilein $3,370,000 University of Michigan Basketball
10. Archie Miller $3,200,000 Indiana University Basketball
11. (tie) Lon Kruger $3,100,000 University of Oklahoma Basketball
11. (tie) Shaka Smart $3,100,000 University of Texas Basketball

Previous Rankings of the Highest Paid Coaches

The 25 Highest Paid Coaches in 2017
Rank Coach Salary Location Sport
1. Jim Harbaugh $9,004,000 University of Michigan Football
2. Mike Krzyzewski $7,299,666 Duke University Men's Basketball
3. Nick Saban $6,939,395 University of Alabama Football
4. John Calipari $6,580,000 University of Kentucky Men's Basketball
5. Urban Meyer $6,003,000 Ohio State University Football
6. Bob Stoops $5,550,000 University of Oklahoma Football
7. Jimbo Fisher $5,250,000 Florida State University Football
8. Charlie Strong $5,200,000 University of Texas Football
9. Kevin Sumlin $5,000,000 Texas A&M University Football
10. Bill Self $4,748,776 University of Kansas Men's Basketball
11. Sean Miller $4,535,664 University of Arizona Men's Basketball
12. Gus Malzahn $4,725,000 Auburn University Football
13. (tie) Hugh Freeze $4,700,000 University of Mississippi Football
13. (tie) Dabo Swinney $4,700,000 Clemson University Football
15. (tie) James Franklin $4,500,000 Penn State University Football
15. (tie) Kirk Ferentz $4,500,000 University of Iowa Football
17. Rick Pitino $4,448,000 University of Louisville Men's Basketball
18. Mark Dantonio $4,300,000 Michigan State University Football
19. Jim McElwain $4,268,325 University of Florida Football
20. Dan Mullen $4,200,000 Mississippi State University Football
21. Butch Jones $4,110,000 University of Tennessee Football
22. Bret Bielema $4,100,000 University of Arkansas Football
23. David Shaw $4,067,219 Stanford University Football
24. Gary Patterson $4,014,723 Texas Christian University Football
25. Mark Richt $4,000,000 Unversity of Miami Football
The 25 Highest Paid Coaches of 2018
Rank Coach Salary Location Sport
1. Nick Saban $11,132,000 University of Alabama Football
2. Dabo Swinney $8,504,600 Clemson University Football
3. John Calipari $7,140,000 University of Kentucky Basketball
4. Jim Harbaugh $7,004,000 University of Michigan Football
5. Urban Meyer $6,431,240 Ohio State University Football
6. Jimbo Fisher $5,700,000 Florida State University Football
7. David Shaw $5,680,441 Stanford University Football
8. Rich Rodriguez $5,631,563 University of Arizona Football
9. Mike Krzyzewski $5,550,475 Duke University Basketball
10. Tom Herman $5,486,316 University of Texas Football
11. Gary Patterson $5,104,077 Texas Christian University Football
12. Rick Pitino $5,057,000 University of Louisville Basketball
13. Kevin Sumlin $5,000,000 Texas A&M University Football
14. Bill Self $4,752,626 University of Kansas Basketball
15. Gus Malzahn $4,725,000 Auburn University Football
16. James Franklin $4,600,000 Penn State University Football
17. Kirk Ferentz $4,550,000 University of Iowa Basketball
18. Dan Mullen $4,500,000 Mississippi State University Football
19. Jim McElwain $4,,457,400 University of Florida Football
20. Mark Dantonio $4,380,000 Michigan State University Football
21. (tie) Mike Gundy $4,200,000 Oklahoma State University Football
21. (tie) Bret Bielema $4,200,000 University of Arkansas Football
23. Chris Petersen $4,125,000 University of Washington Football
24. Butch Jones $4,100,000 University of Tennessee Football
25. Bobby Petrino $3,930,434 University of Louisville Football

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