Virginia head coach and reigning NCAA basketball champion Tony Bennett recently turned down a lucrative deal that would’ve vastly increased his already multimillion-dollar salary. Many basketball coaches, however, will take every penny a college throws at them. In many ways, we don’t blame them.
Bennett isn’t in struggling for money, however. According to USA Today, he is still one of the highest-paid coaches in the country, joining these other four coaches as the biggest moneymakers in college basketball.
5. Bill Self, Kansas: $4.06 million
A journeyman coach before settling in Kansas in 2003, Bill Self made a name for himself at Illinois and Tulsa before finding the school where he’s seen the most success. Like Kentucky’s Calipari, Self has become one of the best recruiters in the country, as Kansas boasts tons of NBA talent under his rule. Self won a single championship back in 2008, but he’s made it to three Final Fours and won nin conference tournaments so far.
4. Tony Bennett, Virginia: $4.15 million
Perhaps, it’s easier to turn down a lucrative payday when only three other coaches make more money than you. After a short run at Washington State, Tony Bennett moved to Virginia. There, he rebuilt a struggling program into a consistent contender, and the team has made the NCAA tournament seven out of eight years.
Younger than many of his peers, Bennett may ascend this list if he can keep his position of success. His 2020 team may be a test of how quickly he can turn things around after losing many key pieces from last season.
3. Tom Izzo, Michigan State: 4.157 million
Since joining Michigan State in 1995, Izzo has been one of the most successful coaches in college basketball. In just five short years, he transformed the Spartans from a rebuild to a champion, winning the NCAA Tournament in 2000.
Izzo has won over 600 games, nine conference tournaments, and appeared in the Final Four eight times. With a healthy bonus incentive, he consistently makes more than the $3.7 million base salary he receives.
2. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke: $7 million
There is, perhaps, no coach more synonymous with college basketball than Coach K. Duke University has thrived under Mike Krzyzewski’s nearly four-decade run as head coach. During that time, he’s a 12-time conference winner, made it to the NCAA tournament 35 times, been to 12 Final Fours, and won five championships.
Coach K’s Rolodex of NBA talent spans from superstars like Grant Hill to rising stars like Zion Williamson, and he shows no signs of slowing down despite being well into his seventies. If Krzyzewski sticks around for two more years, he will have spent 40 years with Duke University.
1. John Calipari, Kentucky: $9.3 million
John Calipari best encapsulates the current state of college basketball. While many coaches stress a four-year commitment from players, he takes advantage of the talent that only wants one year. His career has not lacked controversy, but Calipari has become one of the best coaches in the country at recruiting and producing NBA talent.
Calipari has coached college since 1988, with a brief stint in the NBA during his first college basketball job in Massachusetts and his second one in Memphis. He has been a 14-time conference tournament champion and made it to 20 NCAA tournaments. Calipari won an elusive championship in 2012 in just his third year at Kentucky. He is currently on a lifetime contract worth $86M.