The Highest-Paid College Basketball Coaches in America

·9 min read
Al Sermeno Photography / Shutterstock.com
Al Sermeno Photography / Shutterstock.com

After last year’s NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, college basketball fans are thrilled that the tournament is set to return this year.

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March Madness is always a thrill, and often the biggest stars are the coaches. Players come and go, so programs are often best-known because of high-profile coaches such as Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.

Although those big names are certainly well paid, some of the other names on the list of college basketball’s highest-paid coaches will surprise you. Read on to see the top 20.

Last updated: March 15, 2021

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brad Tollefson/AP/Shutterstock (11741777d)Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger yells to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, in Lubbock, TexasOklahoma Texas Tech Basketball, Lubbock, United States - 01 Feb 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brad Tollefson/AP/Shutterstock (11741777d)Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger yells to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, in Lubbock, TexasOklahoma Texas Tech Basketball, Lubbock, United States - 01 Feb 2021.

20. Lon Kruger

  • School: Oklahoma

  • Conference: Big 12

  • School pay: $3,300,000

  • Total Pay: $3,300,000

  • Maximum Bonus: $270,000

Kruger is one of only two coaches to lead five different teams to the NCAA Tournament. He led Florida and Oklahoma to Final Fours in his career.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Doug McSchooler/AP/Shutterstock (11749894f)Indiana head coach Archie Miller reacts to the action on the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, in Bloomington, IndIowa Indiana Basketball, Bloomington, United States - 07 Feb 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Doug McSchooler/AP/Shutterstock (11749894f)Indiana head coach Archie Miller reacts to the action on the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, in Bloomington, IndIowa Indiana Basketball, Bloomington, United States - 07 Feb 2021.

19. Archie Miller

  • School: Indiana

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • School pay: $3,300,000

  • Total Pay: $3,300,000

  • Maximum Bonus: $1,035,000

Miller, the brother to Arizona head coach Sean Miller, took over at Indiana after a successful six-year run at Dayton, including an Elite Eight berth in 2014. Archie’s Indiana tenure hasn’t seen the same success, as the Hoosiers have yet to make the NCAA Tournament. As a result, it was announced on March 15 that he was let go.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chuck Burton/AP/Shutterstock (11713753b)Texas head coach Shaka Smart directs his team against Kansas State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Austin, TexasKansas St Texas Basketball, Austin, United States - 17 Jan 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chuck Burton/AP/Shutterstock (11713753b)Texas head coach Shaka Smart directs his team against Kansas State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Austin, TexasKansas St Texas Basketball, Austin, United States - 17 Jan 2021.

18. Shaka Smart

  • School: Texas

  • Conference: Big 12

  • School pay: $3,300,000

  • Total Pay: $3,300,989

  • Maximum Bonus: $795,000

Smart has been head coach at Texas since 2015, making the NCAA Tournament now three times including this year. He came from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he led the Rams to five NCAA tourney berths, including a run to the Final Four in 2011.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anthony Nesmith/CSM/Shutterstock (11701568ar)Chestnut Hill, MA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett during the NCAA basketball game between Virginia Cavaliers and Boston College Eagles at Conte ForumNCAA Basketball Virginia vs Boston College, Chestnut Hill, USA - 09 Jan 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anthony Nesmith/CSM/Shutterstock (11701568ar)Chestnut Hill, MA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett during the NCAA basketball game between Virginia Cavaliers and Boston College Eagles at Conte ForumNCAA Basketball Virginia vs Boston College, Chestnut Hill, USA - 09 Jan 2021.

17. Tony Bennett

  • School: Virginia

  • Conference: ACC

  • School pay: $3,307,500

  • Total Pay: $3,307,500

  • Maximum Bonus: $1,450,000

Bennett led the Cavaliers to the 2019 NCAA Tournament championship, a breakthrough after several seasons of early flameouts in the tourney. The title was all the more remarkable because in 2018, Virginia became the first No. 1 men’s seed to lose in the first round.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP/Shutterstock (11677210t)Baylor head coach Scott Drew questions a call against his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State, in Ames, Iowa.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP/Shutterstock (11677210t)Baylor head coach Scott Drew questions a call against his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State, in Ames, Iowa.

16. Scott Drew

  • School: Baylor

  • Conference: Big 12

  • School pay: $3,303,435

  • Total Pay: $3,303,435

  • Maximum Bonus: $0

Drew took over at Baylor in 2003 after Dave Bliss resigned under a cloud of scandal. Most of the players had transferred after the school had allowed everyone a full release from their scholarships in the wake of Bliss’ firing and subsequent NCAA sanctions. Drew has rebuilt Baylor, leading it to now nine NCAA Tournament berths.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Ainsworth/AP/Shutterstock (11790011g)Head coach Jamie Dixon directs his team against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fort Worth, TexasTexas TCU Basketball, Fort Worth, United States - 07 Mar 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Ainsworth/AP/Shutterstock (11790011g)Head coach Jamie Dixon directs his team against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fort Worth, TexasTexas TCU Basketball, Fort Worth, United States - 07 Mar 2021.

15. Jamie Dixon

  • School: Texas Christian

  • Conference: Big 12

  • School pay: $3,423,401

  • Total Pay: $3,423,401

  • Maximum Bonus: $0

Dixon came back to coach his alma mater, TCU, in 2016, after a successful stint at Pitt. He has led the Horned Frogs to an NCAA Tournament appearance and an NIT Championship, and he led the Panthers to 11 NCAA Tournaments in 13 seasons.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP/Shutterstock (11776578k)Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak shouts to the team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, in Salt Lake CityUCLA Utah Basketball, Salt Lake City, United States - 25 Feb 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP/Shutterstock (11776578k)Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak shouts to the team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, in Salt Lake CityUCLA Utah Basketball, Salt Lake City, United States - 25 Feb 2021.

14. Larry Krystkowiak

  • School: Utah

  • Conference: Pac-12

  • School pay: $3,762,876

  • Total Pay: $3,762,876

  • Maximum Bonus: $280,000

The former NBA star has been head coach at Utah since 2011 and has taken the Utes to two NCAA Tournament appearances.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Woods/AP/Shutterstock (11719658b)Auburn coach Bruce Pearl reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas, in Fayetteville, ArkAuburn Arkansas Basketball, Fayetteville, United States - 20 Jan 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Woods/AP/Shutterstock (11719658b)Auburn coach Bruce Pearl reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas, in Fayetteville, ArkAuburn Arkansas Basketball, Fayetteville, United States - 20 Jan 2021.

13. Bruce Pearl

  • School: Auburn

  • Conference: SEC

  • School pay: $3,800,000

  • Total Pay: $3,840,366

  • Maximum Bonus: $925,000

Pearl came to Auburn after serving a three-year penalty from the NCAA that prevented him from coaching. He had been penalized for recruiting violations at his previous job at Tennessee. Pearl has taken the Tigers to two NCAA Tournament berths. He is the second-fastest coach to reach 300 victories in his career, needing just 382 games.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sam Craft/AP/Shutterstock (11701534f)Texas A&M head coach Buzz Williams reacts after a penally call against Tennessee during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in College Station, TexasTennessee Texas A M Basketball, College Station, United States - 09 Jan 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sam Craft/AP/Shutterstock (11701534f)Texas A&M head coach Buzz Williams reacts after a penally call against Tennessee during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in College Station, TexasTennessee Texas A M Basketball, College Station, United States - 09 Jan 2021.

12. Buzz Williams

  • School: Texas A&M

  • Conference: SEC

  • School pay: $3,843,182

  • Total Pay: $3,843,182

  • Maximum Bonus: $850,000

Williams jumped to Texas A&M in 2019 after successful stints at Marquette and Virginia Tech. He has been to eight NCAA Tournaments in 13 seasons as a head coach.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP/Shutterstock (11781556k)West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins shouts at an official during an NCAA college basketball game against TCU in Fort Worth, TexasWest Virginia TCU Basketball, Fort Worth, United States - 23 Feb 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP/Shutterstock (11781556k)West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins shouts at an official during an NCAA college basketball game against TCU in Fort Worth, TexasWest Virginia TCU Basketball, Fort Worth, United States - 23 Feb 2021.

11. Bob Huggins

  • School: West Virginia

  • Conference: Big 12

  • School pay: $3,950,000

  • Total Pay: $3,950,000

  • Maximum Bonus: $640,000

Nicknamed “Huggy Bear,” Huggins is one of only 10 head coaches with 800 or more victories. From 1989-2005, he led Cincinnati to 14 NCAA Tournaments, including a Final Four in 1992. After one season at Kansas State, Huggins jumped to West Virginia, where he has taken the Mountaineers to nine NCAA Tournaments and is taking them to No. 10 this year.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock (11774469l)Kansas head coach Bill Self during the overtime of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas, in Austin, TexasKansas Texas Basketball, Austin, United States - 23 Feb 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock (11774469l)Kansas head coach Bill Self during the overtime of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas, in Austin, TexasKansas Texas Basketball, Austin, United States - 23 Feb 2021.

10. Bill Self

  • School: Kansas

  • Conference: Big 12

  • School pay: $3,881,857

  • Total Pay: $3,985,857

  • Maximum Bonus: $525,000

Self has been head coach at Kansas since 2003, enjoying a highly successful run. Under his reign, the Jayhawks won the 2008 championship and reached Final Fours in 2012 and 2018. Kansas has made the NCAA Tournament every year under Self.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anthony Nesmith/CSM/Shutterstock (11677342cf)Chestnut Hill, MA, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Chris Mack reacts during the NCAA basketball game between Louisville Cardinals and Boston College Eagles at Conte ForumNCAA Basketball Louisville vs Boston College, Chestnut Hill, USA - 02 Jan 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anthony Nesmith/CSM/Shutterstock (11677342cf)Chestnut Hill, MA, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Chris Mack reacts during the NCAA basketball game between Louisville Cardinals and Boston College Eagles at Conte ForumNCAA Basketball Louisville vs Boston College, Chestnut Hill, USA - 02 Jan 2021.

9. Chris Mack

  • School: Louisville

  • Conference: ACC

  • School pay: $4,007,494

  • Total Pay: $4,067,494

  • Maximum Bonus: $475,000

Mack is in his third season at Louisville, having led the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament in his first year before the Big Dance was canceled in 2020.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gerry Broome/AP/Shutterstock (11677297k)North Carolina head coach Roy Williams reacts during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame in Chapel Hill, N.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gerry Broome/AP/Shutterstock (11677297k)North Carolina head coach Roy Williams reacts during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame in Chapel Hill, N.

8. Roy Williams

  • School: North Carolina

  • Conference: ACC

  • School pay: $2,385,409

  • Total Pay: $4,102,409

  • Maximum Bonus: $1,024,617

Williams, who played at North Carolina and served as an assistant under legendary coach Dean Smith, has established an impressive legacy of his own with the Tar Heels. After a long run at Kansas, where he led the Jayhawks to two runner-up finishes, Williams jumped to North Carolina in 2003. The coach has won three national championships with the Heels.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP/Shutterstock (11786466b)Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo watches from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan, in Ann Arbor, MichMichigan St Michigan Basketball, Ann Arbor, United States - 04 Mar 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP/Shutterstock (11786466b)Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo watches from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan, in Ann Arbor, MichMichigan St Michigan Basketball, Ann Arbor, United States - 04 Mar 2021.

7. Tom Izzo

  • School: Michigan State

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • School pay: $3,743,070

  • Total Pay: $4,191,070

  • Maximum Bonus: $600,000

Izzo, the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten, has a long history of success with the Spartans. He won a national championship in 2000 and has taken Michigan State to an impressive eight Final Fours.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Slocum/AP/Shutterstock (11750014af)Villanova's Jay Wright coaches during an NCAA college basketball game against Georgetown, in Villanova, PaGeorgetown Basketball, Villanova, United States - 07 Feb 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Slocum/AP/Shutterstock (11750014af)Villanova's Jay Wright coaches during an NCAA college basketball game against Georgetown, in Villanova, PaGeorgetown Basketball, Villanova, United States - 07 Feb 2021.

6. Jay Wright

  • School: Villanova

  • Conference: Big East

  • School pay: $4,410,304

  • Total Pay: $4,410,304

  • Maximum Bonus: $0

The dapper Wright, known for the suits he wears on the sidelines, has been at Villanova since 2001, leading the Wildcats to the 2016 championship and the Final Four in 2009.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Justin Rex/AP/Shutterstock (11786510w)Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard watches fro the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech in Lubbock, TexasIowa St Texas Tech Basketball, Lubbock, United States - 04 Mar 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Justin Rex/AP/Shutterstock (11786510w)Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard watches fro the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech in Lubbock, TexasIowa St Texas Tech Basketball, Lubbock, United States - 04 Mar 2021.

5. Chris Beard

  • School: Texas Tech

  • Conference: Big 12

  • School pay: $4,200,000

  • Total Pay: $4,443,000

  • Maximum Bonus: $500,000

Beard has been at Texas Tech since 2016, leading the Red Raiders to an Elite Eight (2018) and runner-up appearance (2019).

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Butch Dill/AP/Shutterstock (11778903i)Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes reacts to a call during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Auburn, in Auburn, AlaTennessee Basketball, Auburn, United States - 27 Feb 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Butch Dill/AP/Shutterstock (11778903i)Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes reacts to a call during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Auburn, in Auburn, AlaTennessee Basketball, Auburn, United States - 27 Feb 2021.

4. Rick Barnes

  • School: Tennessee

  • Conference: SEC

  • School pay: $4,700,000

  • Total Pay: $4,700,000

  • Maximum Bonus: $3,000,000

Barnes has been a head coach since 1987, with stints at George Mason, Providence, Clemson, Texas and Tennessee. He has 24 NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four with Texas in 2003. And he can add another NCAA Tournament appearance to his list because Tennessee will be going back this year.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock (11781453y)Head coach Mick Cronin in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Boulder, ColoUCLA Colorado Basketball, Boulder, United States - 27 Feb 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock (11781453y)Head coach Mick Cronin in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Boulder, ColoUCLA Colorado Basketball, Boulder, United States - 27 Feb 2021.

3. Mick Cronin

  • School: UCLA

  • Conference: Pac-12

  • School pay: $5,500,000

  • Total Pay: $5,500,000

  • Maximum Bonus: $300,000

Cronin took over at UCLA in 2019 after a highly successful career at Cincinnati. He took the Bearcats to nine NCAA Tournaments in 13 seasons.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Keith Srakocic/AP/Shutterstock (11717638s)Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski calls to players during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh, in PittsburghDuke Basketball, Pittsburgh, United States - 19 Jan 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Keith Srakocic/AP/Shutterstock (11717638s)Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski calls to players during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh, in PittsburghDuke Basketball, Pittsburgh, United States - 19 Jan 2021.

2. Mike Krzyzewski

  • School: Duke

  • Conference: ACC

  • School pay: $7,256,924

  • Total Pay: $7,256,924

  • Maximum Bonus: $0

Krzyzewski is one of the deans of college basketball, having led Duke since 1980. Under Coach K, the Blue Devils have won five national championships and 12 Final Fours. He is the winningest coach in Division I men’s basketball history, with more than 1,000 wins.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Humphrey/AP/Shutterstock (11768161i)Kentucky head coach John Calipari watches the action in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt, in Nashville, TennKentucky Vanderbilt Basketball, Nashville, United States - 17 Feb 2021.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Humphrey/AP/Shutterstock (11768161i)Kentucky head coach John Calipari watches the action in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt, in Nashville, TennKentucky Vanderbilt Basketball, Nashville, United States - 17 Feb 2021.

1. John Calipari

  • School: Kentucky

  • Conference: SEC

  • School pay: $8,000,000

  • Total Pay: $8,158,000

  • Maximum Bonus: $50,000

Calipari has coached Kentucky to four Final Fours, winning the 2012 title, after previously leading Massachusetts and Memphis to Final Fours in 1996 and 2009 (Those titles were later vacated because of NCAA sanctions). Calipari is one of the first coaches to embrace the “one and done,” signing star recruits who would leave for the NBA after one season. Under Calipari from 2002-2018, Kentucky had 25 players chosen in the first round of the NBA draft.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates used USAToday’s NCAAB Coaches salary data to find the top paid coaches at the Division I level. For each coach, GOBankingRates reported their (1) school pay (the most recently available base salary); (2) their total pay (sum of school pay and income listed on the coach’s most recently available, self-reported athletically related outside-income report); and (3) their maximum potential bonus. All data is the most recently released and not all schools were represented as some private institutions do not release employee pay. All data was collected and up to date as of Feb. 24, 2021.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Highest-Paid College Basketball Coaches in America