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December 21, 2010 - Football coaches salaries loaded with incentives for athletic success

USA Today recently published an article detailing the significant increase in the amount of football coaching salaries, including assistant coaches, from bonuses and other incentives.  The paper investigated salaries at 89 institutions, including the two institutions whose football teams will play in the Bowl Championship Series title game: the University or Oregon and Auburn University.  Performance bonuses could take the University of Oregon's guarantee of $4.21 million in salary to head coach Chip Kelly and his staff to more than $7 million this season. Kelly is guaranteed $2.4 million himself and could collect up to $735,000 in performance incentives.  At Auburn University, performance bonuses for head football coach Gene Chizik and his assistants could take their combined $5 million-plus in guaranteed pay to almost $7.5 million. Chizik already has qualified for $800,000 in such incentives and can collect another $550,000 — $500,000 for a national championship and $50,000 for finishing 14-0.

"It's a competitive marketplace," said University of Oregon athletics director Rob Mullens. The combination of guaranteed pay and bonuses "puts [Oregon] where we want to be, which is in the top tier of college football."  Beyond that, "it's performance-based, and they've performed at a top level," Mullens said. "So they should be rewarded."

A second article found that the number of assistant football coaches earning $250,000 or more in the NCAA's top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is up from at least 106 a year ago to 132 this season. Fifty-one are in the Southeastern Conference.  Twenty-six assistants are pulling down $400,000 or more, double the number making that much in 2009. Thirteen are in the SEC, topped by four defensive coordinators making $700,000 or better.

USA TODAY, in partnership with the National Sports Law Institute of Marquette University Law School, obtained compensation details for nearly 890 of the nearly 1,100 FBS assistants. Analysis of head coaches' compensation found that their 2010 pay held steady from a year ago at an average of $1.36 million.

Link here to the USA Today's head coach contracts database.