The economics of coaching salaries

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at big coaching salaries and provides a few insights.

“The talent that Saban, Tressel and other coaches have is relatively scarce,” Phil Miller, an assistant professor of economics at Minnesota State University, Mankato, wrote on The Sports Economist blog. “On the other hand, the talent it takes to teach effectively, for example, at the collegiate level is more abundant. So the price of coaching talent is much higher than the salary obtained by most professors.” Or, as legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes once told an antisports prof: “I can do your job, but you can’t do mine.”

The WSJ also exposes the fact that taxpayers aren’t paying for Nick Saban’s salary.

The other problem with the salary comparison is that Alabama taxpayers aren’t paying Mr. Saban, and so his salary doesn’t take any money away from professors. One of the benefits to come out of the rampant commercialism of college athletics is that media conglomerates and sneaker companies are willing to pay huge sums for the broadcast and apparel rights. Thus, Mr. Saban will be paid out of Alabama’s $70 million athletic budget, with little or no impact on academic departments.

However, UAB’s football program does hurt academic departments because it is a money pit. And is there any end to its losing money in sight? Those who oppose athletics as waste should target not the profitable programs, but the failures that are bleeding scarce resources.

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