Elliott, Pry contracts remind us that college football coaches are way overpaid
The average NFL team brought in $381 million in revenue in 2020, according to Forbes.
The University of Virginia athletics department brought in $110.3 million in 2019-2020, according to USA Today.
The Virginia Tech athletics department brought in $99.2 million last year, also from USA Today.
How can those schools afford to pay their new football coaches upwards of $4 million a year, which would rank in the top 20 of what NFL teams pay their head coaches?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but it seems that somebody needs to be asking.
I do know that the above comparison isn’t even apples to apples. Football revenues make up the single biggest source of income for college athletics departments, but there’s also men’s basketball, and to a lesser extent, women’s basketball, baseball and the Olympic sports.
At Virginia Tech, for instance, the number for football-only revenues was $49.6 million in 2019-2020, just shy of half of the overall total revenues department-wide.
At Virginia, football-only revenues amounted to $43 million in 2019-2020, a little less than 40 percent of the overall total for Virginia Athletics.
The nice contract given to new UVA football coach Tony Elliott, to begin at $4.1 million in Year 1, in 2022, topping out at $4.55 million in 2027, would come in at roughly a tenth of football revenues.
Even at Tech, new coach Brent Pry’s contract, which will pay him $4 million in 2022 and 2023, topping out at $5 million in 2026, is in the same ballpark, especially in the latter years.
That’s akin to the average NFL team paying its head coach in the neighborhood of $37 million.
The highest-paid head coach in 2021 is Bill Belichick, the six-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the New England Patriots, whose contract calls for him to be paid $20 million this year.
Belichick is underpaid by college football standards.
In other words, the two first-time college football head coaches in Charlottesville and Blacksburg are worth almost twice as much to those schools as Bill Belichick is to the New England Patriots, on a salary-to-revenues basis.
Something is out of whack here.
Story by Chris Graham