With the recent firing of Archie Miller, Indiana is currently embroiled in a search for the next leader of the Hoosier men’s basketball program. The four-year Miller experience left fans and administrators underwhelmed, putting an immense amount of pressure on the new coach to turnaround the program quickly. From style of play to recruiting success to years on the job, a lot of factors play into hiring a new coach. But, as with any hire, salary is always going to matter.
So, how much will Indiana have to pay its new coach?
In a general sense, the answer to this question will largely depend on whether the University chooses a flashy, attention-grabbing name or whether the administration selects a lesser-known fresh face. As with any employment position, compensation is directly correlated to demand. A mid-major hire would be a bargain-basement option compared to a Power Five name.
But, let’s get into some specifics and take a look at the current state of college basketball coaching salaries in 2021. Before we begin, it’s important to remember that not all coaching annual salaries are created equally. Some coaches prefer to include several performance bonuses above and beyond their base salary. Others may frontload or backload payments. In particular, this season has also created scenarios where coaches have accepted reduced payments or even deferred some pay until next year because of COVID-19. Texas Tech’s Chris Beard, for example, reportedly accepted a $328,708 “pandemic reduction” salary cut. It’s also important to remember that while public university contracts are widely disseminated, private institutions are not required to make contracts public, leaving some details unknown. Thus, for simplification purposes, let’s focus on a coach’s scheduled base salary coming into the season pre-pandemic.
For 2020-21, Archie Miller made a base salary of $3.35 million, which was the 21st highest salary in college basketball this season, according to USA Today. It’s safe to presume that Indiana’s next coach will make an equal to or higher salary, unless the administration decides to go with a lesser known commodity. For example, after paying Gregg Marshall around $3.5 million per year, Wichita State signed a new deal with promoted assistant coach Isaac Brown to take over the position at an annual salary of about $1.2 million. This type of deal almost never happens at the Power Five level.
Four coaches are scheduled to make over $5 million this year. The highest-paid coach in college basketball is University of Kentucky’s John Calipari at a base payment of $8 million this season. Calipari is followed by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. According to USA Today, Coach K is set to make slightly over $7 million this season. Villanova’s Jay Wright and Texas Tech’s Chris Beard clock in at the third and fourth positions, making $6.14 million and $5.05 million respectively. Tennessee’s Rick Barnes rounds out the top five at $4.95 million.
Big Ten coaches Brad Underwood of Illinois and Fred Hoiberg of Nebraska each make $4 million of base salary, falling in the top 12 of highest-paid coaches. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is the highest-paid coach in the conference in total pay, but his base salary of $3.92 million actually ranks behind Underwood and Hoiberg. Overall, the Big Ten has six coaches (including Miller) that rank in the top 30 highest-paid in college basketball for the 2020-21 campaign. Thus, Indiana will likely have to come in around a similar salary in the $3 million to $4 million range (or likely even higher) in order to be competitive at the conference level. However, given inflation and the desire to be competitive on the national level, it’s entirely possible that the next coach will be closer to the $5 million to $6 million range. Although this seems particularly reasonable given the fact that IU is now paying football coach Tom Allen a salary of nearly $4.9 million per year on average.