This has been a year of upset and consternation in March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball playoffs. Not a game has been played yet. The controversy has been in the seeding, the process by which a committee ranks the NCAA Division I teams will get to compete for the national championship.
Some favorites have suddenly found themselves further down the list than they — and some fans and professional sports watchers — had expected. For example, University of Kentucky coach John Calipari found that his Wildcats were seeded lower than Texas A&M, even though his team had just beaten the Aggies.
But one way Calipari still stands on top is in the annual salary ranking of head college basketball coaches, as analyzed by USA Today. Calipari brings in nearly $6.4 million a year. He's brought his team to the Final Four four times and guided them to the NCAA national title in 2012.
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino of the University of Louisville are also $6 million men. The top 39 coaches on the list all make at least $1 million a year.
Coaches can command this type of compensation because college basketball is big business. According to U.S. Department of Education figures, NCAA Division I teams collectively brought in just under $1 billion in revenue in 2014 ($999,774,987, to be exact). After total expenses of just over $700 million, that left nearly $300 million in money that was split among the schools, with the most successful teams bringing in larger shares. Even so, about 40 percent of basketball programs lose money.
Given the rising cost of education and increasing criticism that colleges effectively turn student athletes into unpaid revenue generators, coaches' salaries have come under scrutiny. Top coaches can be the highest paid public employees in their states. Calipari is, for one example.
Even if they aren't the highest paid public employees in their states, many coaches still make more than the presidents of their universities. As a result, some critics say that coaches' salaries should be limited, with the extra money going to the athletes in the form of stipends or even salaries. After all, they're the ones who make it all possible.
Click here to see college basketball's real Sweet 16: the highest paid coaches.