At Alabama, football staff gets rich while athletes get a $50,000 education

by Kent Sterling

Cha-ching for Saban.  For the players - back to class.

Cha-ching for Saban. For the players – back to class.

At the University of Alabama, head football coach Nick Saban is paid over $7,000,000 per year.  His assistant coaches earn an additional $5.2 million.  The support staff makes another $2.9 million.

Players get an education worth $12,591 (in-state) per year, and if they exercise some initiative to monetize their brand, the NCAA suspends them from participating.  The majority of that $12,591 is a pass through expense for which the university bears no true burden.

Ticket sales for Alabama football games account for $36.2 million.  Licensing brings in an additional $11.2 million.  The increase in annual revenue for Alabama athletics from 2005-2013 – $81,489,358.

Click here to learn about the best bands and teams

Those are the raw numbers as compiled and reported by CBS Sports Jon Solomon, and they speak to the growing chasm in earnings for the universities/coaching staffs, and student-athletes.

Somehow, the perception of coaches is that of reasonable and giving educators who are mentors first and earners second, while players are scurrilous and money-grubbing rascals who swap autographs for tattoos and food stamps when they aren’t shoplifting groceries.

A Michigan fan tweeted to me last night that Jim Harbaugh’s decision to sign as the new football coach with the University of Michigan wasn’t about the money.  Sure it wasn’t.  That’s why he’s going to make $8-million plus per year.  That’s damn nice of Harbaugh.  What a guy!

Harbaugh’s return to Michigan because of love for his alma mater is a heart warming act of generosity is really the story people in Michigan are buying?

The reason Harbaugh agreed to become the coach at Michigan is most likely that no NFL team was willing to step up and pay at the same level Michigan is.  To believe otherwise is invests hope that cash is not the overriding priority for coaches and schools.  All evidence points to the contrary.

Schools continue to oppose paying players not because of some pie in the sky ideal of amateurism and purity.  It exists because schools like keeping all the cash they can.

Coaches and administrators aren’t fools.  They know where the cash for paying players will come from – their pockets.  And before we start to blame the NCAA – they haven’t got a damn thing to do with it.

The NCAA is not an oversight organization.  It’s comprised of member schools run by administrators who are the very people who want to keep the money the profit center of football and men’s basketball provides.  NCAA president Mark Emmert isn’t empowered to make unilateral changes to the financial schematics of college sports.  Emmert acts on members’ wishes, and those wishes right now are to perpetuate the myth that somehow players not being paid is about decency rather than greed.

Click here to read about the best dentist in Indiana offering exams for $1 – Dr. Mike O’Neil of Today’s Dentistry

Paying people commensurate to their value is the construct that propels wealth in America, and it is embraced in every business but college athletics.  Sadly, that greed even extends to young men who seek to profit from the value of their own brand, and why is that?  The $10+ million Alabama reaps because of licensing is a pretty good explanation.

Public school bureaucrats can yelp all they like about the Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences that allowing athletes to sign autographs for cash would uncrate, but the sad truth is that the answer here is as it always is – people like to hold onto the cash they have and expect to have.

Football at Alabama is little more than a developmental wing of the NFL.  To assert the availability of an education is compensation enough for those athletes assumes they deserve no level of self-determination whatsoever, and they should simply be happy with the opportunity to spend four years of debt free living on a college campus surrounded by beautiful women and outstanding trainers and facilities.

I’ll buy that as soon as coaches are paid like professors, whose average pay is $97,800 at Alabama.  Pretty decent salary.  The reason that isn’t that good enough for Saban is the same as why tuition/room-and-board shouldn’t be good enough for Amari Cooper and Landon Collins.

2 thoughts on “At Alabama, football staff gets rich while athletes get a $50,000 education

  1. Pauly Balst

    Another analyst stated it very well, money spent on a coach like Harbaugh is amazingly well invested. He will recruit, win and pack the stadium.

    The dingbat broad lawyer you have had on your radio show is fond of pointing out Texas A&M licensing revenue was only $56k in the Johnny Manziel years, so that did not influence the A&M actions. She is an idiot. I would submit that if the school bookstore only sold 100,000 Johnny football t shirts a year at $25 that was minimally a $2mm annual retail gross margin. Again, she is an idiot.

    It’s even worse than you are stating. What is the INCREMENTAL cost of a student athlete attending a lecture that is happening anyway? It’s no $12,000 in in-state tuition. Think about it this way, what does it cost to have another 1-5 students sitting in a chair in a lecture hall? Like, zero dollars? Toss in some overhead to gather grades and heat/cool buildings, I’d submit it’s under $500 annually. Books, maybe another $500 per. $1,000 a year total cost, unless they are using lab supplies (ha ha).

    Harbaugh will pay for himself several times over. That’s why I suggested to Fred Glass an equity upside “cut of the gate” to attract a coach to Indiana before they hired Coach Wilson.

    This seems really, really obvious to me. Good proven coach = money in bank x 10 in college football and basketball.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Absolutely right about the actual cost of education for athletes. Totally ludicrous to advance numbers like a $200,000 education being handed to student-athletes. The only people that number applies to are the parents who save that amount.

      The canard that a life cannot be well lived without attending college for as long as possible – while not objectionable to those at Kilroy’s and the Bluebird every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Bloomington – is one of the most peculiar in our society. Two of the best at what they do in sports broadcasting/journalism – Mark Boyle and Bernie Miklasz – jumped straight into their professions without sitting in lecture halls for four-six years.

      While I enjoyed college like few others, I cannot think of a single tangible benefit I accrued for that investment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *