Good Question: Do College Coaches Have Too Much Power?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On most college campuses: who’s got more power? The president or the head football coach? At Penn State the answer is fairly clear: it was the head coach. So do college coaches have too much power?

“I think they have a lot of power,” said Michael Rand, college sports editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“They are very visible, very well compensated and very powerful,” said Rand. “Too powerful? That’s up for debate.”

“They have that power they wield because the university knows they have the cash,” said WCCO sports anchor Mark Rosen, who noted the power is linked with winning.

“If Jerry Kill starts putting the Gophers in significant bowl games they’ll start putting statues of him around town next to Mary Tyler Moore and Sid Hartman,” he laughed.

According to a USA Today analysis of college football salaries in 2010, 60 college football coaches make more than a $1 million a year.

“These guys are making a ton of money. They are the front window to the university, the first point of contact with the school for many people,” said Rand.

Alabama pays Nick Saban $5.1 million. Kirk Ferentz gets nearly $3.8 million from Iowa. USA Today said the average pay for a major college football coach is $1.36 million.

“In Paterno’s case, Penn State’s football program generated $50 million profit. That’s where the power exists,” said Rosen. That $50 million profit was in one season, according to information Penn State provided to the U.S. Department of Education.

Last year, the football teams in the 6 major conferences made a combined profit of $1.1 billion.
That breaks down to a profit of at least $1 million per team, per game. It’s enough money to fund nearly all of the other sports those schools offer.

But that doesn’t mean the coaches don’t have to ultimately report to someone.

“They wanted to run Joe Paterno out of town 6 years ago. Why? He wasn’t winning,” said Rosen.

Ultimately, of course, Paterno did survive. He did overpower the University president. A problem when all of the power lies with one man.

“There was too much power, too much of an inner circle, and nobody stop things when they should have. People will see what happened now and say, ‘That can’t happen again,'” said Rand.

So what to do about the problem?

Andrew Zimbalist studies the business of sports as an economics professor at Smith College.

He proposed a salary cap for coaches in an article in the Harvard Business Review pointing out that some coaches are earning five to 10 times what is paid to their schools’ president.

“If the NCAA were to place, say, a $400,000 cap on coaches’ compensation packages — about five times an assistant professor’s pay, which would also put coaches’ pay in line with the average pay of college presidents — it would not materially affect the quality of coaching or the college programs’ ability to attract top talent,” Zimbalist wrote.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Jacky C

    Thats what we get for “Worshiping” sports. Cant believe all those college kids crying out for his re-instatement and quickly forgetting about the little kids that sufferd.. Our countrys in big trouble.


    • Guy

      But how much of that should be laid at Paterno’s feet specifically? He got a REPORT (ie – he didn’t actually SEE anything) from someone who – appearently – didn’t think it was significant enough to actually intervene himself … and passed it up the line to be delt with.

      To me that puts the responsibility to stop the immediate molestation & make a report to the cops on the guy that SAW it happening … and the responsibility for the followup & firing on the administration.

      This sounds too much like scapegoating.

      • markH

        If I were in Paterno’s position and received a report that one of my employees was seen by a credible eyewitness sodomizing a young boy in the shower, I would not “pass it up the line to be dealt with” before I contacted the police and told them exactly what was relayed to me by the eyewitness. Your attitude is one of ignorance, apathy, and callous insensitivity to the suffering of others-more specifically, those who cannot or will not speak for themselves.

        • Guy

          And YOU know EXACTLY what was reported to Paterno?

          The statement NOW was that he was seen sodomizing a boy. Was that what
          PATERNO was told or was it just “Sandusky was in the shower room with a young boy” … BIG difference in the severity wouldn’t you say?

          I might also make the assumption that the guy that reported it has ALREADY CALLED THE COPS.

          Since McQueary (the guy that actually SAW the act & who ALSO did NOT report it to the cops) is still on the team; I stand by my claim that this is scapegoating

      • frankie

        @ Guy. There was an intervention, Sandusky could no longer bring children to the campus. Paterno’s first question should have been did you call the cops. Sandusky should have been banned from campus. That would have been help covering up a felony. Hope Paterno goes to jail.

  • Joepa

    I think the media has too much power

    • markH

      Joepa- Then perhaps a few years living in a society where the media are controlled by the state (i.e. Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia) will enlighten you as to the value of independent media in uncovering scandal and revealing corruption. Your comments suggest that you were born quite soon before or after the fall of Communist USSR. Peace.

      • Daz

        Whats the difference between the media being controlled by the state or by ratings? Nothing, both will sacrifice the facts and ethics to look the best to whom ever is in control.

    • frozenrunner

      The power of the media is as only as great as the ability of the population to understand the difference between opinion and fact

  • See BS

    Maybe Hollywood Celebs and News Media people should have salary Caps too.

  • melanie

    Penn State sold its soul to the devil when it overlooked those children at the expense of their own self-preservation. But this article should be offer a wider focus in the fact that this kind of abuse and cover up goes on all the time; from Shippensburg University Pennsylvania and their violation of student speech codes to Penn State and their violations of young children— its not just about the sports power construct- its about the university power construct as a whole. The University system has become CORRUPT to the core, they have too much autonomy and as a result, alot of innocent people are left to suffer in silence because those who are supposed to protect us are out only for themselves and their own financial/institutional preservation.

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