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Special report: McCaffery salary ranks near bottom among Big Ten coaches

[ 0 ] March 12, 2013 |

Growing up in Iron Mountain, Mich., Tom Izzo and Steve Mariucci dreamed of making it big and cashing in someday.

“Mariucci and I used to sit there and say, ‘If we can just make $100,000 in our lifetime…’” Izzo said, “because there were people in Iron Mountain who hadn’t.”

Both men overachieved, to the tune of millions of dollars. Mariucci was an NFL head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions. And Izzo has become a college basketball kingpin as Michigan State’s coach.

Izzo, who has coached the Spartans to six Final Fours and an NCAA title, is making $3.49 million this season. That makes him the Big Ten’s highest-paid basketball coach and puts him in the top 10 nationally.





“There were times, early in my career, when I was embarrassed by what I made,” Izzo said. “Because it was so much more than I ever thought.”

Contracts for men’s basketball coaches in the Big Ten and Big 12 Conferences, obtained by the Des Moines Register through Freedom of Information Act requests, found that Izzo is one of five coaches in the two leagues making at least $3 million to coach hoops this season.

Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team earned a share of a ninth consecutive Big 12 regular-season title Saturday, heads the list at $3.865 million. Also in the club are Tom Crean, Indiana, $3.16 million; Thad Matta, Ohio State, $3.1 million; and Bob Huggins, West Virginia, $3 million.

The Register chose to survey the Big Ten and Big 12 as a measuring stick to what the head basketball coaches at Iowa’s two biggest public universities make. Every school complying to FOIA requests has basketball coaches making in excess of $1 million annually. That includes Fran McCaffery, making $1.3 million in his third season at Iowa, and Fred Hoiberg, making $1.2 million in his third season at Iowa State.

These figures don’t include a myriad of incentive clauses tied to success for on-court or academic success or retention bonuses that many coaches have in their contracts.

Self, for instance, who agreed to a new 10-year deal in September 2012 that will pay him a guaranteed $52 million, also stands to receive an additional $22.41 million in retention bonuses if he sees the contract through. Factoring in his retention bonus this year, Self stands to make $4.732 million. He would get another $350,000 if Kansas wins this year’s national title.

A USA TODAY Sports survey of coaching contracts found that John Calipari of Kentucky is the highest-paid coach at $5.3 million annually. He’s followed by Rick Pitino, Louisville, $4.81 million; and Mike Krzyzewski, Duke, $4.6 million. Billy Donovan of Florida is a notch below Self at $3.64 million.

“This is just indicative of the fact that major college intercollegiate athletics is a big business,” former coach and ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “And if guys are having the success that (Alabama football coach) Nick Saban or Bill Self are having, and it makes sense financially for the university, I don’t see why it’s a big deal.”

Northwestern and Penn State in the Big Ten and Baylor and Texas Christian in the Big 12 didn’t provide contacts to the Register, claiming their private-school status precludes them from following FOIA guidelines. And Texas Tech’s Chris Walker is coaching on an interim basis and doesn’t have a contract.

The Register extrapolated those missing salaries from published reports and other data. The final numbers show that Hoiberg’s $1.2 million salary is the lowest among permanent coaches in the Big 12. McCaffery’s $1.3 million ranks ahead of only Northwestern’s Bill Carmody ($1 million) and Penn State’s Patrick Chambers ($900,000) in the Big Ten.

In 1986, Tom Davis signed a five-year deal, worth $75,000 annually, to leave Stanford for Iowa.

McCaffery’s deal looks like Monopoly money by comparison.

“The interest level, in terms of things like ticket sales and television, has increased an institution’s ability to pay those numbers,” McCaffery said. “That’s just how the market has developed. I don’t, for a minute, take for granted the opportunity I have, and I am fortunate to have it. Yes, I’ve paid my dues. Yes, I’ve had great mentors. But every day you’ve got to figure out how to maximize this opportunity.”

McCaffery isn’t jealous of Izzo’s pot of gold.

“He’s raised the bar for all of us,” McCaffery said. “We should all thank him.”

Given the win-or-else demands in college basketball and the extra hours it takes to stay on top of the mountain, Izzo has gotten over his embarrassment of riches.

“I can look anybody in the eye and say, ‘I get paid a lot of money, and I earn every single nickel,’” Izzo said.

Self said that no one could envision the salaries being paid to college basketball coaches 15 years ago.

“Did anybody envision the television deals that conferences and schools are getting now?” Self said. “I think this has become such a big business. Yes, it’s always been a big business. But monetarily, it’s off the charts. You look at athletic budgets across the country, how much of those are driven by ticket revenue? Five percent? Ten percent?”

Like Izzo, Self justifies his income for reasons beyond Xs and Os.

“They pay you to deal with a lot of crap,” Self said. “And trust me, all coaches deal with it. Although that’s a big part of the job, it’s not the most rewarding part. Coaching kids and trying to put a team together and see a team through October to March, to me, is what’s fun and exciting.”

Johnny Orr was making $30,000 a year when he left Michigan for Iowa State in 1980. More than three decades later, one of his former players has dwarfed his salary.

“Johnny reminds me of that every time I talk to him,” Hoiberg said.

John Beilein makes $1.8 million to coach the Wolverines today.

“I’m fortunate to be coaching at Michigan and fortunate to be paid the salary I’m paid,” Beilein said. “If that’s what the market demands, then I feel fortunate to be there.”

These jobs can be tough to get — and hold. There were 50 coaching changes at the NCAA Division I level last season.

“It’s alarming, and it is the business,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “The pressure is greater today on the administration to field programs and teams that are appealing to alumni and fans. The cost of running programs are greater. I think it all ties together.”

The pressure to produce, Hoiberg says, has nothing to do with the size of the contract.

“There’s pressure in the lead chair when you’re the head coach of a major college basketball program,” Hoiberg said. “I don’t think (the money) brings added pressure.

“I’m always going to put pressure on myself to go out and prepare a team and do the best job we can.”



The head men’s basketball coaches at Iowa and Iowa State can increase their pay based on meeting certain postseason performance benchmarks.

Iowa’s Fran McCaffery can earn …

-Up to $100,000 a year based on players’ academic progress rate (APR) performance

-$100,000 for a Big Ten regular season title (shared or outright)

-$100,000 for a Big Ten Tournament title

-$150,000, plus a salary bump of $200,000, for reaching the 2013 NCAA Tournament; a $25,000 bonus for reaching the tournament in any year thereafter

-$50,000 for each 2013 NCAA Tournament win

-$50,000 for reaching the NCAA Sweet 16

-$50,000 for reaching the NCAA Elite Eight

-$100,000 for reaching the Final Four

-$50,000 for a NCAA title game

-$150,000 for an NCAA championship

-$10,000 for making the NIT (2013 only)

-$50,000 for an NIT championship

-$30,000 for being named Big Ten coach of the year

-$50,000 for being named national coach of the year

Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg can earn …

-$250,000 for reaching the Final Four

-$100,000 for a Big 12 regular season title

-$50,000 for a Big 12 Tournament title

-$50,000 for an NCAA Tournament berth

-$25,000 for each NCAA Tournament win

-$25,000 for being named Big 12 coach of the year

-$25,000 for being named national coach of the year



Travis Ford of Oklahoma State and Bo Ryan of Wisconsin don’t have incentive provisions in their contracts. Here are samples of what some coaches could earn in the next few weeks:

Big Ten

John Groce, Illinois — $50,000 for Big Ten Tournament title; $25,000 for NCAA bid; $250,000 for NCAA title.

Tom Crean, Indiana — $50,000 for Big Ten Tournament title; $25,000 for NCAA bid; $250,000 for NCAA title.

John Beilein, Michigan — $25,000 for NCAA bid, and an additional $25,000 for each victory.

Tom Izzo, Michigan State — $25,000 for NCAA bid; $150,000 for NCAA title. A Nike deal also includes a bonus of $25,000 for making the Final Four and $50,000 for NCAA title.

Tubby Smith, Minnesota — $250,000 for winning Big Ten Tournament title; $100,000 for NCAA bid; $1.5 million for winning NCAA title.

Tim Miles, Nebraska — $100,000 for winning Big Ten Tournament title; $150,000 for NCAA bid; $300,000 for NCAA title.

Thad Matta, Ohio State — $40,000 for Big Ten Tournament title; $40,000 for NCAA bid; $20,000 for reaching Final Four.

Matt Painter, Purdue — $47,448 for Big Ten Tournament title; $23,724 for NCAA bid; $94,896 for three or more NCAA wins.

BIG 12

Bruce Weber, Kansas State – Already guaranteed $180,000 for Big 12 regular-season title, and that would grow with Big 12 Tournament or NCAA titles.

Bill Self, Kansas — $25,000 for Big 12 Tournament title; $150,000 for making Final Four, and another $200,000 for NCAA title.

Lon Kruger, Oklahoma — $20,000 for Big 12 Tournament title; $25,000 for NCAA bid; $175,000 for NCAA title.

Rick Barnes, Texas — $62,500 for Big 12 Tournament title; $125,000 for NCAA bid; $250,000 for NCAA title.

Bob Huggins, West Virginia — $20,000 for Big 12 Tournament title; $10,000 for NCAA bid; $50,000 for a Final Four spot.



For this project, the Des Moines Register made Freedom of Information Act requests to all Big Ten and Big 12 universities requesting contracts for their men’s basketball coaches.

Four schools — Northwestern and Penn State in the Big Ten and Baylor and Texas Christian in the Big 12 — declined the request, citing their private-school status. Also, Texas Tech coach Chris Walker is an interim coach and has no contract.

The salaries represented in this package cover a coach’s base compensation plus guaranteed pay that includes things like radio and TV responsibilities, other media obligations, camps, shoe contracts, speaking engagements, fund-raising and other public relations requirements.

Retention bonuses and other incentives based on academic or on-court success were not included. Neither were the values of other contractual perks, such as tickets, the use of a car or a country club membership.



Fred Hoiberg was all for guaranteed contracts during his 10-year NBA playing career.

“I loved it,” Hoiberg said.

That changed when he retired in 2006 and moved into the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office.

“When I was management, you wanted them fighting for that money,” Hoiberg said. “You pay a guy for six years with a max contract, some of them shut it down. If you had a non-guaranteed contract, there were some incentives to get the most money.”

Now in his third season as Iowa State coach, Hoiberg has a contract that runs through April 2020. It pays him $1.2 million this season and will escalate annually. That contract includes a series of performance incentives for success on the court.

“The better job you do, the better off you’ll be,” Hoiberg said.

Hoiberg will earn an extra $50,000 if the Cyclones win the

Big 12 Tournament this week. He’ll get $50,000 if Iowa State gets an NCAA bid on Sunday, and $25,000 more for each victory.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will get a $200,000 raise, kicking his salary up to $1.7 million in 2013-14, if the Hawkeyes make the NCAA Tournament this year for the first time since 2006. If he doesn’t, his salary next year will be $1.5 million. McCaffery’s contract runs through June 2019.

The school’s third Big Ten Tournament title also would earn McCaffery a $100,000 bonus. And he would get an additional $25,000 bonus for an NCAA bid, or $10,000 for an NIT bid. These tournament bonuses will sweeten with each postseason victory. McCaffery also has up to $100,000 in bonuses tied to Academic Progress Rate scores and graduation rates.

Indiana coach Tom Crean has already earned a $125,000 bonus for the Hoosiers’ Big Ten regular-season title. Kansas coach Bill Self earned a $50,000 bonus when the Jayhawks earned a share of their ninth straight regular-season Big 12 title.

Kansas State shared the title with Kansas, which earned coach Bruce Weber an $180,000 bonus. That figure could grow to $480,000 if the Wildcats win the NCAA title.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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