Home Mailbag: Looking at UVA Basketball coaches’ salaries, man, they are way overpaid

Mailbag: Looking at UVA Basketball coaches’ salaries, man, they are way overpaid

college basketball money NIL
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Your piece on the basketball staff is interesting. To me it is evidence that college sports is a pretty lucrative business for coaches and administrators.

I went on the AD directory and found 12 staff directly under men’s basketball and another three or so in other areas of the department who concentrate on men’s basketball. Except for one person, the lowest salary for the staff you listed is $150K, and that’s for a couple of folks who are seventh or eighth down from Tony Bennett

Even up here in NOVA, $150K is good money, and it generally means you are leading an organizational unit of some kind. It’s a good example of how market forces don’t actually work in college sports. Young would-be assistant coaches are in abundant supply, and one certainly doesn’t need to pay $150K to hire qualified candidates. 

It’s just one form of sharing the spoils from a profitable business built on free labor. I’m not a big donor, but if I was, I’d be requiring some cost savings from AD payrolls before coughing up even more money for NIL.   

Jim Gillespie

I’ve been, for years now, saying something along these lines – that market forces don’t work at all when it comes to the funny money being thrown around in college athletics – and just assumed nobody’s been paying attention.

Just with the example of UVA Basketball staff salaries, starting at the top, with Bennett, who is paid $3.0 million per year, his compensation is roughly 22 percent of revenues, based on the most recent accounting of revenues for the hoops program at UVA, for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which pegged total revenues for the UVA program at $13.7 million.

If you think of a big-time college men’s basketball or football coach as akin to being a CEO, CEOs at companies in the $10 million to $15 million a year revenue range are paid closer to $250,000 a year, about one-tenth of what Bennett is getting in salary to lead the UVA Basketball program.

I’m not picking on Tony Bennett here, just to be clear – every D1 men’s basketball and football coach is grossly overpaid relative to their peers in the business world.

And then, down to the assistants, yeah, Jim is spot on here, in particular.

Nothing against Isaiah Wilkins or Johnny Carpenter, but $150,000 a year to be the fourth and fifth full-time assistants?

CEOs of companies that bring in $2 million to $3.5 million in annual revenues make $150,000 a year.

Emphasis there on, the CEOs of those companies – not guys who, no offense, chop up video for scouting reports and show guys how to set screens and hedge on pick-and-rolls.

This isn’t just an issue at UVA, to be sure, but I think Jim has a point here – smart donors might be asking questions about this kind of thing as the Virginia Athletics Foundation comes-a-callin’ for money for NIL, and there’s really no good answer other than, you know, well, everybody else dramatically overpays, too.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].