It's Not Just Coaches That Make Big Bucks

Apr 18, 2018

UNC-Chapel Hill Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham.
Credit Chuck Burton / AP

College athletics is notoriously big business.

Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski received close to $9 million of salary and other compensation in the 2015-16 school year. UNC-Chapel Hill men's basketball coach Roy Williams is under contract with the public university through 2020 and can earn as much as $1.75 million in that last year plus a $250,000 bonus if the Tar Heels win the NCAA tournament.

While coaches get more attention – and players can legally earn exactly nothing – athletic directors can receive compensation that runs into the seven figures, according to data compiled by Spencer Fane, a law firm that markets to university athletic departments.

Kevin White of Duke University received $1.5 million, and Bubba Cunningham of UNC could see a similar amount, if the Tar Heels perform well on the field or court. At N.C. State University, Athletic Director Debbie Yow has a base salary lower than many of her peers, but could earn a bonus of $1 million.

In looking at conference averages, athletic directors might want to target the Atlantic Coast Conference for employment. The average total compensation was higher in the ACC than any of the other four so-called Power Five conferences.

However, the average for the ACC skews high because of Notre Dame, which compensates AD Jack Swarbrick $3 million, double any other AD in the country, according to the Spencer Fane database.

Hover over any of the bars below to see the compensation packages for athletic directors. Note: Some athletic directors are excluded from this analysis, including four from the ACC. These were from private institutions and hired since the most recent Form 990s were available that included their employment. A full methodology from Spencer Fane is available.