The average salary of a basketball coach

Written by david thyberg
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The average salary of a basketball coach
Basketball coaches teach tactics and fundamental skills. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Basketball coaches work in a wide range of settings. Some make it as far as the NBA while others run NCAA college programs or coach high school and youth teams. Obviously, the salaries of basketball coaches vary greatly depending on a number of factors such as level of competition, track record and geographic region. Those who hold positions in the upper echelon of the sport earn extravagant wages, while their lower-tier counterparts pull in far more modest incomes.

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Top NBA Coaching Salaries

The NBA has the highest-paid coaches in all of basketball. The league's top coaches boast exorbitant salaries ranging from £3 million to £6 million per season, according to 2009 statistics reported by Forbes Magazine. Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers led the way with his £6 million annual compensation. Other big names like Doc Rivers, Larry Brown, Mike D'Antoni and Don Nelson also round out this elite group of coaches.

Average NBA Coaching Salaries

Even less prestigious coaches in the NBA bring in a hefty payday. The average NBA coach makes roughly £2 million a year as of 2009, according to Forbes. It should be noted that NBA coaches have to handle nearly twice as many games per season as compared to college coaches, so the pay hike has just as much to do with quantity of games as it does with the quality of competition.

Top College Coaching Salaries

The elite coaches in NCAA Division 1-A college basketball make approximately the same amount as most coaches in the NBA. The top 10 per cent of Division 1-A basketball coaches collect guaranteed annual compensation of over £0.6 million, according to a 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal. In this bracket are a handful of outstanding coaches who earn between £1.3 million and £2 million per season. Forbes Magazine lists several of the top earners, including Kentucky's John Calipari, Florida's Billy Donovan, Kansas' Bill Self and Ohio State's Thad Matta. Big-time basketball universities pay out such huge salaries in order to compete with the pros and retain elite coaching talent. Successful basketball programs generate lots of money for their schools, so producing competitive teams ranks as a major priority for collegiate athletic directors.

Average College Coaching Salaries

The average Divsion 1-A head basketball coach earned around £260,000 in 2009, according to a Fox News report citing official NCAA statistics. The average salary of the 65 head coaches who advanced to the 2010 NCAA tournament was £0.8 million, according to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. However, coaches from institutions in the six major basketball conferences including the Big East and the ACC earned almost five times more than coaches from lesser-known conferences. Likewise, coaches of Division 2 and 3 college programs make much less than those in Division 1 schools.

High School Coaching Salaries

No set pay scale exists for high school basketball coaches, and salaries vary greatly depending on factors such as the wealth of a given school district. Most high school coaches are teachers who participate as volunteers in varsity sports, while others are teachers who receive an additional stipend to manage a school's basketball team. For instance, the News Observer states that the average stipend of high school basketball coaches in North Carolina's state school system is approximately £1,300 per season. More affluent state schools and many private schools offer higher pay to full-time professional coaches rather than paying a stipend to a teacher. The US Department of Labor notes that the median annual wages of full-time coaches in elementary and secondary school in 2008 was around £14,300, though the highest-paid 10 per cent made more than £39,000.

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