Our Opinion: Coach's pay is pure economics

Published 2:07 am Monday, January 8, 2007

By Staff
After a coaching search that garnered raises for at least two of its targets, the University of Alabama's hire of Nick Saban to lead the Crimson Tide is garnering negative attention for the purported amount of his contract.
Saban - who actually took a pay cut to leave the Miami Dolphins - will reportedly be the highest paid college coach in the country - until the others successfully lobby their schools for a raise, that is.
Are college coaches paid too much?
Maybe. But then so are pro athletes and actors.
From an economic standpoint, Saban's $30 million over eight years is what the market allows. That salary won't even make a dent in what the football program makes in a year, and if he wins, Alabama stands to make even more in merchandising and bowl appearances.
Saban will make more money coaching at Alabama than at Alcorn State University, for example, for the same reason that the CEO of Wal-Mart makes more money than the manager of a grocery store.
It's pure economics.
From that standpoint, of course it makes sense - mostly if he wins every game and restores the football program's dominance.
But take the moral view, and you have to wonder, not only about Saban's salary but about any profession that seems to skew the balance for the rest of us.
What does it mean when we drive up the market value of coaching skills or athletic talent or acting prowess?
In Saban's case at least, the UA athletic department makes its own money. His salary doesn't come from taxpayer dollars, and it doesn't steal from academic scholarships or professor pay raises or classroom research.
But those of us cheering in the stadium next season - at Alabama or at any school where the coach makes more money than anyone in the stands - may ponder the cost of those points that should be racked up on the scoreboard.

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