Nick Saban, head football coach at the University of Alabama, makes upwards of $7 million dollars per year (after bonuses) which makes him the second highest paid public employee in the country. Many people think this is outrageous and believe he is being paid way too much considering he is just a coach. No matter what you think about his salary, I’m here to tell you that he is worth every penny (and more).
Here is a quick recap of Saban’s legacy since being hired in 2007: Over the past decade he has had an impressive 85% win percentage, 5 SEC Conference titles (6 appearances), and 4 NCAA National Championship titles (5 appearances). He has brought in 8 #1 recruiting classes, developed two Heisman winners, and has had 47 players selected in the NFL draft. Even if you aren’t a fan of Alabama or college football, it is obvious that Saban’s accomplishments at Alabama are noteworthy.
Is Saban’s dynasty worth $7 million a year?
Unequivocally yes. Since hiring Saban, Alabama athletics has increased their revenue from all NCAA sports by 142% from $67.7 million in 2006 to $164 million in 2016. The year before Saban’s hire, Alabama football generated an estimated $43 million. In 2016, football generated $103.8 million in revenue representing an ~141% increase. We will use Urban Meyer, head coach at The Ohio State University ($6.5 million per year), as a comparison. Ohio State football generated $58 million in revenue the year before hiring Meyer, $65 million the year after, and $86 million in 2016. Last year, Alabama football was able to generate roughly $45 million dollars more in revenue than Ohio State despite having similar expenses. Due to the football program’s success, Alabama athletics was able to generate $18.7 million in profit, most of which was donated to create academic scholarships.
Should Alabama spend more on academics instead of paying Saban’s high salary?
Probably not. That is because Saban’s financial influence extends far beyond athletics. Alabama has seen a 70% increase in total student enrollment since Saban’s hire enrolling 37,665 total students in the fall of 2016. Auburn University, a public university located in southeastern Alabama, has only seen a 30% increase during the same timeframe despite starting with similar numbers. The University of Alabama has also increased net revenue from tuition (after scholarships) by 285% from $123.7m to $476.7m, increased scholarship allowance by a massive ~430% from $40.6m to $215.5, AND increased private donations from ~$11m to ~$34m, all during his tenure.
It isn’t possible to credit Saban for all of Alabama’s success but given the financial improvements during his tenure, both athletically and academically, you can easily see that Nick Saban is worth every bit of that $7 million per year and then some.
Numbers were gathered from EADA reports provided by the U.S. Department of Education and University of Alabama’s financial statements.