View Full Version : University/college coaches

05-16-2013, 06:19 AM
So I haven't quite settled on what size school it is, university vs smaller college, etc., (it's set in the U.S.), but...

Does anyone know anything about the coaches at universities/colleges? I know they generally coach full-time rather than coach and teach like in high school. Are they treated the same as professors when it comes to tenure? If they coach a particular sport (in this case either football or baseball), do they *only* coach that one? What do they do during the off season?

Basically, what I'm trying to nail down is how (if at all) being a coach for a university differs from being a professor, if tenure and such still applies, and what do they do during the off season?

Thanks, y'all!

05-16-2013, 06:38 AM
This question depends HUGELY on the level of the college/university sports program. At the highest levels, coaching tenure is akin to deity (google "Joe Paterno" or "Bear Bryant"). Coaches generally don't have professorial tenure, however. They exist on contracts, highly lucrative at the major university level, but can be dismissed by university administrations, at will. Of course, any remaining time and obligated money on the contract will have to be paid. At the high levels, famous coaches like Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino or Alabama football coach Nick Saban, work in a compensatory manner similar to highly-paid pro athletes like Lebron James and Alex Rodriguez: contracts negotiated through a professional agent. People like Saban. at prominent state-run academic facilities, are not only the highest-paid people at their respective universities, they are likely the highest-paid people on the state's governmental payroll. By a huge margin. I'm sure Saban makes many many times more money than does the Governor of Alabama.

But I don't know anywhere that athletic coaches have the same career arrangements as tenured academic faculty. Maybe in some small colleges, but I don't know of any such.


05-16-2013, 06:43 AM
Good to know - thanks! That's what I needed.

05-16-2013, 07:41 AM
I've never heard of anything close to tenure for a coach. Even coaches who are teachers/profs who also coach like, darts on the side, could have their dart team taken over.

As above, the deal depends entirely on the level and the sport itself. A D1 football coach is a full-time job with excellent pay. A community college, I dunno, miniature golf coach (likely not a thing), is probably not a full-time position.

05-16-2013, 03:37 PM
Just to note - over here many universities have sports degrees (my brother did on) and employed many coaches and professionals in a teaching and training capacity - not sure what their contracts/hours etc were over holidays or anything though.

Not sure if that helps you at all.

05-16-2013, 08:10 PM
What do they do during the off season?

Hold spring and summer practices, recruit, give or go to traning seminars and raise funds.

If you're striving for accuracy, you should be aware that there are "dead periods" where coaches can't contact recruits:


We're in football's offseason now. ESPN's College Football Live is filled with coaches trading barbs at fundraisers, for example.

05-16-2013, 08:30 PM
Thanks, everyone!

05-23-2013, 08:36 PM
@thethinker42 (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=12571): I actually work in a Division I university athletic department and have relationships with coaches from many different sports. I also worked at a smaller Division I school earlier in my career. The two are very different in terms of the type of coaches they attract, what they pay those coaches and what is expected of each coach.

I'd be glad to answer any questions you may have. Just send me a PM.

05-23-2013, 10:18 PM
This is based on 24 years of experience at a major US university that was also in one of the most competitive major conferences (PAC-12, although back then it was PAC-10). As a faculty member, I helped the football team recruit student athletes interested in majoring in Biology or in going for one of the medical-related professions (yes, there were some quality students there). I also got a glimpse of the university sports life from a university committee assignment.

First if all, the athletic department was (and is) totally separate from the academic part of campus, particularly with respect to finances. The academic part is dependent on state money and any existing endowments while the athletic department does not receive state allotments but rather depends on ticket receipts, merchandise sales, and things like that, but also include "donations" from boosters. More important, each major conference has a profit sharing deal with television and radio station contracts, and money made from bowl appearances typically are spread throughout the conference, so a major source of funding comes from TV deals and bowl appearances (this is why Notre Dame continued to be an independent for so long--an exclusive TV deal and no sharing of bowl fees).

Second, coaches do not receive anything like tenure. They have specific contracts of variable lengths and amounts.

Third, the coaches' salaries in the major sports were astronomical compared to faculty salaries, and even the lofty salaries of the academic administrators. In some institutions, the football coaches have higher salaries than the university president/chancellor. What pissed me off was the assistant football coaches (there were usually a dozen or more) had salaries higher than the best-paid professors. And the coaches always had financial packages that included free use of new cars from local dealerships and other perks. The head coach for the major sports also had a personal radio or TV contract for weekly shows during the season that (by itself) paid several times the best faculty salary.

Coaches are frequently fired before the end of a contract if the team doesn't do well, but what the public rarely knows is the firing comes with a huge buy-out which is worked into the original contract. So, if a coach is fired after a couple of years, he is likely to leave with the equivalent of 10 or 20 years of a faculty salary in his pocket. This ratio goes down significantly with the size and sports stature of the institution. Also, coaches in the minor sports do not do any near as well as in the major sports.

The primary revenue sports are football and basketball, so those coaches earn the most competitive, and lofty, salaries.

05-23-2013, 10:20 PM
Thanks for the info, all! NeuroFizz and Triplec224, I might be PMing either of you for more details in the near future.