According to a survey conducted by ESPN, close to half of major college football and men’s basketball coaches have taken some form of a pay cut as universities and athletics departments scramble amid the harsh financial realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are, however, several prominent exceptions.
The three highest-paid college football coaches — Dabo Swinney ($9.3 million), Nick Saban ($8.9 million) and Kirby Smart ($7.5 million, who combined to make over $25 million durning the 2019-20 season — have not yet taken a cut.
Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Jim Harbarugh of Michigan — coaching and financial peers — have taken a cut, though.
In the world of college basketball: five prominent coaches that each made over $4 million in the 2019-20 season have yet to take a cut as well. That group, which is led by Kentucky’s John Calipari ($8.2 million), includes Roy Williams ($4.1 million) of North Carolina.
From the ACC, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski ($7.3 million) and Chris Mack of Louisville ($4.1 million) have already taken cuts. That effort was mirrored at both schools by football coaches David Cutcliffe and Scott Satterfield and athletic directors Kevin White and Vince Tyra.
Back in April, Louisville was one of the first major college athletics departments to cut its budget and furlough some staff members. Right around the same time, Dave Clawson of Wake Forest took a voluntary pay cut. John Currie, Wake Forest’s AD, also took a 10 percent cut. (Important to remember: Wake Forest’s athletics department doesn’t operate on the same big margins as football juggernauts like Florida State or Clemson.)
Similar moves occurred at both Virginia and Syracuse. As ESPN’s survey points out, there are six ACC schools that have seen head coaches in both men’s basketball and football take a pay cut.
Earlier this week, Florida State announced that its athletics department is set to cut its budget by 20 percent. In response, football coach Mike Norvell accepted a 25 percent pay cut. Leonard Hamilton will take a 10 percent cut; so, too, will women’s basketball coach Sue Semrau.
Wake Forest declined to respond to ESPN as to whether or not new men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes has taken a cut.
When Clawson and Currie’s cuts were announced in April, Danny Manning was still the university’s men’s basketball coach. Around this time, Manning did several media hits — describing his expectations to return for the 2020-21 season. Less than three weeks later, though, Manning was dismissed. Five days later, Forbes was hired.
Negotiations for Manning’s buyout started near the end of the regular season, which ACCSports.com reported on March 4. That was one week before America was completely upended due to COVID-19. (Wake Forest also believed it owed Manning a substantially smaller sum in terms of buyout money.)