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Ventura County Star (California)

 

The best-paid workers in American higher education are picking up another 6-percent increase in compensation this year.

We're talking, of course, about the head football coaches at schools in the NCAA's top-level Bowl Subdivision. On average, they are set to make just over $2.4 million, according to USA TODAY's new annual pay survey.

Among an even more exclusive group of coaches — those in the so-called Power Five conferences — the average is more than $3.8 million.

Schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences have, by far, the greatest sports revenues among the 130 Bowl Subdivision institutions, so the compensation disparity there is no surprise.

But this year, the Mid-American Conference gained its first million-dollar coach: Toledo's Jason Candle, who moved up to $1.125 million under a change in his contract that gave him $400,000 more than he had been scheduled to make this season. Previously no coach in the conference had made more than $800,000 from his school for one year.

Even with Candle's record haul, however, the Mid-American's 12 coaches will have combined total pay of just over $6.95 million — or less than the amounts being pulled in by each of this season's four highest-paid coaches: Alabama's Nick Saban ($8.3 million), Ohio State's Urban Meyer ($7.6 million), Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher ($7.5 million apiece).

Saban is making less this season than he did last season, when a $4 million contract-signing bonus lifted him to more than $11.1 million. But his third contract renegotiation in as many years resulted in his recurring annual compensation increasing by $1.175 million. Meyer also is benefiting from upgraded contract terms, while Harbaugh is getting a previously negotiated raise, and Fisher has a new employer that lured him from Florida State with a 10-year, $75 million deal.

When USA TODAY first did this survey in 2006, there were 42 coaches making at least $1 million and one making more than $3 million.

This season, there are 44 coaches making at least $3 million, including 13 at $5 million or more.

And those figures don't take into account other potential liabilities for the schools. The new tax law passed late last year has non-profit organizations, including many universities, facing a 21% excise tax on pay above $1 million for their most highly compensated employees. Coaches' rising pay also has led to schools taking on the prospects of heftier severance costs if they decide to fire their coach for not winning enough.

While potentially subject to being offset by a coach's subsequent income, this buyout amount would be $10 million or more this season for at least 30 schools, and because of another change in the tax law pertaining to these buyout payments, the excise tax also could apply to them.

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