‘Bama Coach Nick Saban holds another title that’s not up for dispute this year: Highest paid college football coach in the country. Saban, who has won four national championships in the past seven years, will earn more than $7 million this year, according to a USA Today analysis. That salary makes him the highest paid public employee in the country.
Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney, will earn less than half that, with a total 2015 compensation of $3.3 million.
Coach salaries have drawn attention in recent years amid a continuing controversy over whether schools are taking advantage of unpaid student athletes, especially those on teams that generate millions in revenue for their schools. The NCAA has argued that college sports provide a forum for athletes to showcase their talents, setting themselves up to make money as professionals.
Most successful coaches’ salaries come out of ticket sales and TV contracts rather than tuition, but the majority of athletic programs in the football bowl subdivision don’t make money. Last year, 101 Division I football athletic programs lost money, while 24 turned a profit, according to an NCAA report.
Some have argued that coaches’ salaries, which are often higher than those of university presidents, could easily pay for tuition or room and board for hundreds of students at their schools, many of who are using student loans to afford their educations.