Highest-Paid College Basketball Coaches: Salaries in Context

As March Madness comes to a close, find out which head coaches in men's college basketball are taking home the biggest salaries.
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Data Summary

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    Coach John Calipari from the University of Kentucky was the highest-paid men's basketball coach in the 2022-2023 contract season.[1]
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    Three of the top five highest-paid coaches for men's basketball come from the Southeast Conference (SEC).Note Reference [1]
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    Collectively, the top five highest-paid men's college basketball coaches made $31.19 million this year.Note Reference [1]
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    On average, the highest-paid coaches are bringing home about $6.2 million per year.Note Reference [1]
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    The highest-paid men's basketball coaches earn much higher salaries than women's basketball coaches, as well as university presidents and professors.Note Reference [1], [2], [3], [4]

During this year's national championship, 14.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the UConn Huskies take on the San Diego State Aztecs.[5] For the fifth time in March Madness history, UConn brought home the trophy.

Individual players and programs rose to new heights this season. But what about the coaches who helped to get them there? And how much are they getting paid for it?

Each year, USA Today Sports requests compensation forms for the men's and women's head basketball coaches in the "Power Five" conferences.Note Reference [1] The publication also requests forms from coaches whose programs have appeared in at least three of the past five NCAA Tournaments.

The most recently reported data shows that the top five highest-earners in men's college basketball earn above $5 million a year.Note Reference [1]

Find out just how much the top five highest-paid coaches in men's college basketball earn and how other salaries at the university level compare.

The Five Highest-Paid College Basketball Coaches


John Calipari, The University of Kentucky

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Compensation: $8.53 million

Throughout his 14-season coaching career at the University of Kentucky, John Calipari — affectionately referred to as Coach Cal — led four teams to the Final Four round of March Madness and collected one national title back in 2012.

His accolades are seemingly endless, but in his career at Kentucky, he has been dubbed the Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year and Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year, led historic teams and players, and helped produce 43 NBA draft picks.

It's no wonder Calipari is the highest-paid men's basketball coach in the NCAA by a $2.57 million margin.Note Reference [1]


Bill Self, The University of Kansas

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Compensation: $5.96 million

In his 19 seasons at Kansas, Coach Bill Self has won 81.8% of games, securing an average of 29.3 victories per season. Self has coached his teams to 14 regular-season Big 12 Conference titles, four Final Fours, nine Elite Eights, and two national titles.

He's a nine-time Big 12 Coach of the Year and two-time AP National Coach of the Year recipient. He was also the head coach of two gold medal-winning USA basketball teams.


Tom Izzo, Michigan State University

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Compensation: $5.74 million

The third highest-paid coach in men's NCAA basketball is none other than Tom Izzo, the 28-year coaching veteran at Michigan State University.

The March Madness tournament is where Izzo stands out among other high-paid coaches. He has led Michigan State to 24 straight appearances, the longest active streak among Division I coaches, and secured 53 NCAA wins throughout the tournament.

Compared to the other top-earning men's college basketball coaches, Izzo's program produces the most revenue, bringing in over $26 million in 2021.[6]


Rick Barnes, The University of Tennessee

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Compensation: $5.45 million

In only eight seasons at the University of Tennessee, Coach Barnes has become the most decorated coach in school history. He has led the Vols to five straight NCAA tournament appearances, taken home the Naismith College Coach of the Year award, and recruited some of the best prospects in the country.

In his 35 years as a Division I head coach, Barnes has coached 27 NCAA tournament-appearing teams, eight Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eights, and one Final Four.

In the 2022-2023 season, the Vols were 25-11 and made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen, where they lost to Florida Atlantic University.


Bruce Pearl, Auburn University

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Compensation: $5.45 million

Last year, Bruce Pearl received SEC Coach of the Year for the third time in his career. In his nine seasons at Auburn, he has led the team to the first-ever no. 1 ranking in both national polls and to the Final Four in 2019.

Last season, the Tigers held a 28-6 record, with an undefeated record on their home court, and earned a no. 2 seed going into the NCAA tournament.

High Revenue, High Reward

The highest-paid coaches in college basketball help bring in millions of dollars each year for their programs. Collectively, the top five highest-earning coaches accounted for just under $100 million in revenue in 2021 ($99.14 million).Note Reference [6]

According to the U.S. Department of Education's Equity in Athletic Data Analysis (EADA), team revenue is a combination of contributions from alumni, sports camps, state and government support, ticket sales, and signage and other sponsorships among other revenue streams.Note Reference [6]

Even after factoring in team expenses like equipment, fundraising efforts, gameday operations, and recruitment efforts, there is still plenty of room to pay out the coaches for their contributions in a big way.Note Reference [6]

Michigan State's team gained the highest revenue ($26.27 million) of the five programs with the highest-paid coaches, but Coach Izzo takes on the largest gap between his salary and team revenue compared to the other high-earning coaches.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [6]

What About Women's Programs?

Viewership for the women's college basketball national championship game hit an all-time high of 9.9 million viewers when LSU faced off against Iowa at the start of the month. In this year's tournament, the first and second rounds played at the University of Iowa sold out in just 53 minutes.[7], [8]

Since 2021, the NCAA has made progress in addressing gender equity gaps between the men's and women's basketball postseason tournaments.

However, women's college basketball head coaches still make substantially less than the men's college basketball head coaches do, and women's teams are bringing in less revenue.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [2], Note Reference [6]

Men's Basketball Head Coach Salaries vs. Team Revenue
Rank Coach 2023 Salary 2021 Revenue
1 John Calipari (Kentucky) $8.53M $22.67M
2 Bill Self (Kansas) $5.96M $17.13M
3 Tom Izzo (Michigan State) $5.74M $26.27M
4 Rick Barnes (Tennessee) $5.45M $16.07M
5 Bruce Pearl (Auburn) $5.45M $17.01M
Note: The most recent available data for team revenue is from 2021, while the most recent salary information is from 2023.
Source: USA Today SportsNote Reference [1], U.S. Department of EducationNote Reference [6]
Women's Basketball Head Coach Salaries vs. Team Revenue
Rank Coach 2023 Salary 2021 Revenue
1 Geno Auriemma (UConn) $2.9M $8.52M
2 Dawn Staley (South Carolina) $2.7M $9.54M
3 Kim Mulkey (LSU) $2.64M $1.77M
4 Vic Schaefer (Texas) $1.8M $2.54M
5 Jeff Walz (Louisville) $1.53M $6.91M
Note: The most recent available data for team revenue is from 2021, while the most recent salary information is from 2023.
Source: USA Today SportsNote Reference [2], U.S. Department of EducationNote Reference [6]

Even the highest-paid women's basketball coach — Geno Auriemma from UConn — makes $2.9 million per year, about $5.63 million less than Coach Cal, the highest-paid men's basketball coach.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [2]

The five highest-paid women's basketball coaches in the NCAA make an average of $3.91 million less than the five highest-paid men's basketball coaches.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [2]

But these men's programs are also bringing in more revenue on average than the women's teams: $19.83 million on average compared to $5.86 million.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [2]

How Many Professors' Salaries Would It Take to Break Even With a Head Coach?

Even though they are not directly bringing in as much revenue to the school as the head men's basketball coaches, university presidents and professors are foundational to a student-athlete's college experience and long-term success off the court.

At any one of the five institutions with the highest-earning men's basketball coaches, the men's basketball coach makes an average of seven times more than the university president and 44 times more than the average professor.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [3], Note Reference [4], Note Reference [6]

In the 2022-2023 contract season, Kentucky's Coach Cal earned $8.53 million, more than 10 times President Eli Capilouto's $830,635 salary in 2021.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [3]

At Michigan, Coach Izzo makes about five times what President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. earns.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [3]

And how do faculty salaries measure up? The average full professor's salary during the 2022-2023 academic year was around $149,630.

The average professor at the University of Kentucky is bringing home about 1.5% of Calipari's yearly salary, earning roughly $128,400 per year.Note Reference [1], Note Reference [4]

How Many Professor Salaries Account for the Head Coach's Salary?

Professor Salaries at the University of Kentucky

Head Coach Salary

Source: USA Today SportsNote Reference [1], National Center for Education StatisticsNote Reference [4]