By Schuyler Dixon
ARLINGTON, Texas – Florida’s Billy Donovan has both the SEC trophies from this season. Kentucky’s John Calipari has the bigger bonus check, at least for now.
If the Gators get past Connecticut in today’s semifinals and win their third national championship under Donovan on Monday night, the coach will have the biggest postseason payoff among his Final Four counterparts.
If Calipari wins his second titles in the past three seasons, he will take home $700,000 through incentives that are common for college coaches but more lucrative at some schools.
Kentucky is clearly on the higher end in basketball. Calipari can make as much as $800,000 each year off the success of his team – he’s leaving at least $100,000 on the table this year because Florida won the SEC regular-season and tournament championships.
But even the $700,000 he could get this year is more than the combined maximum for the other three coaches in the Final Four.
Donovan would make $400,000 with a championship, followed by Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie at $166,666 and Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan at $120,000.
“A program’s got to reach a stage of saying, ‘Whatever decision we make, we’re making it within our means,”’ said Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, who has one of the nation’s highest-paid football coaches in Bob Stoops. “I know people focus on some of these salaries and I understand that, but there’s a lot more investment being made into areas that directly, hopefully positively, impact the experience for student-athletes.”
Winning helps that experience as much as anything, and coaches usually have quite a bit extra spending money when they make long postseason runs.
Donovan, who recently signed a three-year extension that raised his average salary to $3.7 million annually over the final six years of the contract, has made an extra $250,000 so far this season. The 18th-year Florida coach would get another $150,000 by winning the title.
Calipari already has $350,000 coming his way – $100,000 each for reaching the Sweet 16 and the regional finals and another $150,000 for making the Final Four. A championship would mean another $350,000 for a coach who has a guaranteed income of $4.8 million this season.
“It seems like we’re working to keep coaches and if there’s a lack of success people are questioning about keeping coaches,” Castiglione said. “So you’re always balancing one or the other. When programs see success happening at others, they want to emulate it. Sometimes that means they’re coming after your best personnel.”
Connecticut athletic director Warde Manual is already on record as saying he wants to rework Ollie’s contract after the Huskies made a surprising run to the Final Four.
Ollie and Ryan have bonus structures more closely tied to school formulas.
At UConn, Ollie and women’s coach Geno Auriemma get $33,333 at three benchmarks – making the tournament, getting to the Sweet 16 and advancing to the Final Four. The payoff doubles for a championship.
Ollie is making $1.2 million this year, about $700,000 less than Auriemma in a rare instance of the coach of a women’s team making more than the men’s coach at the same school.
Ryan, whose is making about $2.3 million this season, has already earned $60,000 for reaching the Final Four. That bonus jumps to $100,000 with a trip to the title game and $120,000 if the Badgers win the school’s second national title.