The University of Nebraska system includes the University of Nebraska-Lincoln ("UNL"), the University of Nebraska-Omaha ("UNO"), and the University of Nebraska-Kearney ("UNK"). The Huskers are known for their sports programs, so I felt it necessary to let the good students of the university know exactly what head coaches are making what - and I'll leave the rest up to you to determine whether it makes business sense. For purposes of this article, I have omitted assistant coach salaries, although I must say many of these salaries are in the $150,000-$200,000 range.
As we all know, football, basketball, and hockey generally are the only sports that produce a profit - and subsequently carry the load for the rest of the sports. Does it make sense for an athletic team that loses over $1 million a year to pay its coach a salary higher than 99% of Americans? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not here to decide that. What I am here to do is provide some transparency to tuition paying students and tax paying citizens of the state of Nebraska. All of these figures are available with a simple Google search, but I figure most people don't have the time to do that and the students are too busy on UNL blackboard. Oh, and these salaries don't include potential bonuses.
Note: Although I'm not Shawn Eichorst or Trev Alberts, the athletic directors of UNL and UNO respectively, I do have a substantive amount of knowledge about finance, was an NCAA DI scholarship athlete, and do understand the undocumented fiscal benefits certain athletic programs can provide. For instance, a gymnastics team may lose money on the books but because of the publicity it produces and the partial tuition some of the girls pay, it might produce an aggregate benefit financially to the university that is essentially "invisible" to the accountants. It also might lose a lot of money in both respects, which is my guess. Another thing to note is that perhaps bottom line finances are not important to a university - or at least not of big concern. This makes a bit of sense but with the steady rise in tuition, the less than stellar job placement by the university, and the value we place on sports over education, maybe we need to wake up and admit athletics in college should be secondary - and the coaches should be paid accordingly. From the data that I have found, most professors are paid less than these coaches - which is probably half the reason the entire Western world and even some of the East is outpacing the US in education.
Free Car: two vehicles
Country Club: probably too busy actually coaching
Mike Riley is the newest member of the Cornhuskers coaching staff, so it is a bit hard to find information on his golfing habits or what car he's rolling around in. One thing is for sure, he is the highest paid employee of the entire university system. Is this fair? Well, probably. I think there was a stat that showed that in a football game, there was only about 11 minutes of actual play - the rest was spent in a huddle and walking around. Easy money in my book. Oh, his salary increases by $100,00 each year under his 5-year deal as well.
Husker Men's Basketball
Free Car: None
Country Club: Country Club of Lincoln
I don't think many people feel Tim Miles is overpaid, which I would tend to agree with. He seems like a great guy, he is very passionate on the court, and for the first time ever, people seem to actually be going to Husker basketball games. However, the team isn't good and most of the players will be lucky if they get a job working at Enterprise Rent-a-Car so I'd say them being locked out of their game room was a long time coming.
Husker Women's Basketball
Free Car: 2012 Chevy Equinox
Country Club: Wilderness Ridge Country Club
Does Connie Yori deserve her salary? To put it this way, the Husker women's basketball program spent $2.5 million more than they made last year. You do the math. Yikes! She did scare people when she passed out during a game and had to be taken to the hospital. Perhaps her salary is somehow connected to that - like a feel sorry for her type of thing. No, it can't be; she signed that contract prior to her passing out. I'm perplexed.
Husker Women's Volleyball Head Coach
Free Car: 2013 Lexus GX460
Country Club: Apparently John doesn't golf
There are few college volleyball coaches that deserve a $400,000+ salary. UNL's John Cook is one of those coaches. Consistent sell-outs at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, coupled with a tradition of winning and producing professional volleyball players (apparently it's big in Europe), the Huskers volleyball program is one of the best in college volleyball. It seems John isn't interested in driving an American car though. I question his devotion to this country - it's not like I drive an Infiniti or anything ;)
Maverick Men's Ice Hockey Head Coach
Free Car: 2013 Nissan Maxima ($28,396)
Country Club: Happy Hallow Country Club
College Hockey is the most exciting sport in the NCAA. Dean Blais not only has two national titles with North Dakota, he also has the UNO Maverick's in the national title mix for the first time pretty much ever. Ice hockey is the big money sport at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, so it makes sense that Dean Blais has the largest salary there. His salary will increase by $10,000 each of the next two seasons, so I think Blais will be doing just fine. His base salary is $250,00 but with that longevity bonus being paid out yearly, he's one of college hockey's highest paid coaches. He's a really cool guy too.
Husker Head Strength Coach - Football
Free Car: 2013 Ford F-150 ($22,325)
Country Club: Knolls Country Club
Although he's not exactly a head coach, James Dobson is a coach in a unique sect of the athletics program at UNL so I decided to go ahead and give him his own section. Making six figures, let alone a $200,000+ salary as a strength coach is rare. Most strength coaches (and yes this is different from the even worse paid 'personal trainers') are lucky to even find a job. That being said, I'd like to believe that the budget for Husker football coaches is deserved - but doesn't it make you wonder?
Husker Track & Field
Free Car: Gary walks apparently
County Club: Prairie Life Center
It's a little funny, but Gary Pepin's salary at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is probably higher than every single professional track star in the US. Most people thing being a track coach would probably be super easy but there are a lot of nuances that normal people don't understand with track. First, the head coach has to pretty much understand to some level every event. This ranges from sprints to jumps to throwing a discus. Second, he has to handle a vast array of personalities - from thugs to nerds (I'm callous). A head track coach at a college is usually, and should always be, a wise old man. They, for some reason, always make the best coaches.
Free Car: None
Country Club: Hillcrest Country Club
I saw a stat somewhere that showed that an NCAA DI baseball player has over an 11% chance of playing professionally, compared with under a 2% for both football and basketball. For some reason though, the NCAA limits the number of scholarships a baseball team gets to 12. Of course softball gets more, but that's because the NCAA is sexist. I'm not joking either. My point is, Darin Erstad deserves his coaching salary. He's a former big leaguer and knows what he's doing. College baseball is big in Lincoln, with the College World Series hosted in Omaha and everything, and Darin certainly has produced a winning tradition over at Hawks Field.
Husker Women's Soccer
Free Car: 2012 Chevy Traverse ($28,177)
Country Club: Yankee Hill Country Club
Just like most of the athletes at UNL don't know there is a law school over on the East Campus, I didn't know there was a women's soccer team over on the City Campus. It's clear that after baseball, a substantial decrease in salary occurs. This can be explained mostly by the fact that the remainder of sports, like women's soccer, are purely athletic programs for community pride. In other words, they lose money. I've never golfed Yankee Hill, but it seems to me that any lack of pay John Walker is getting in his coaching salary is surely supplemented fairly by the University of Nebraska Foundation.
Free Car: 2011 Buick Regal ($25,305)
Country Club: Firethorn Country Club
Now here's a guy who probably deserves his pay, and then some. The Husker wrestling program is pretty good. Not Iowa or Missouri good, but still, it's pretty good. It's also the only DI wrestling program in a state that produces quite a few NCAA DI caliber wrestlers. College wrestling is also a great spectator sport, though for some reason, Husker fans have not caught on.
11. Derrin Hansen, UNO Men's Basketball - $115,500 and a 2012 Chevy Tahoe ($36,042)
12. Dan Kendig, UNL Women's Gymnastics - $107,587 and a 2013 Hyundai Sonata ($20,293)
13. Chance Lindley, UNO Women's Basketball - $94,500 and a 2012 Lexus ES350 ($34,400)
14. Rose Shires, UNO Volleyball - $80,000 and a 2011 Lexus ES350 ($33,299)
As you can see, the University of Nebraska system doesn't shy away from writing head coaches big checks. With help from the University of Nebraska Foundation, most of these coaches (and the assistants) receive perks like free cars and country club memberships as well. Not a bad life. One thing is for sure, college head coach salaries are not what they used to be. If you enjoyed this article, check out these similar articles I have written.