The Most Overpaid People In Sports?

college athletic director salaries

There's no shortage of well-paid head coaches at the nation's top colleges and universities. As USA Today reported last fall, 42 head coaches at major schools make at least $2 million a year -- and 13 have a base annual salary of more than $3 million.

But it isn't just those with the top coaching job, responsible for leading their teams to victory, who are raking in the dough. Many athletic directors -- those in charge of college athletic programs (including the hiring of coaches) -- are also well compensated, as a separate survey by USA Today shows.

The newspaper notes that among the 124 Football Bowl Subdivision schools some athletic directors now make salaries that rival top coaches, though the bonuses awarded some are viewed as rewarding ordinary achievement.

Topping USA Today's recently compiled list is David Williams (pictured above) of Vanderbilt University, who pulls down $3.2 million and is far and away the best paid athletic director at a major college. (Williams also serves as vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs.) In distant second is Tom Jurich of the University of Louisville (Ky.), who makes slightly more than $1.4 million.

Why is Williams paid so well? It's inexplicable, according to Tom Fornelli, columnist for, who writes: "[F]or some reason, Vanderbilt's AD gets more than twice as much as the next-highest paid athletic director in the country [even though] he's not at a school you'd consider an athletic powerhouse."

In all, as notes, nine schools pay their athletic directors more than $1 million. In addition to Vanderbilt and Louisville, they are:

  • University of Florida
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Ohio State University
  • University of Texas
  • University of Wisconsin

What's more, some major-college athletic directors have incentive bonuses that can net them even more income when they reach goals, as USA Today reports, even though the milestones are routinely achieved by their programs. For example, DeLoss Dodds, of the University of Texas, is eligible for a $62,500 annual bonus should the athletics program operate "with financial solvency." That's a safe bet, the newspaper notes, since the department had more than $160 million in revenue in 2011-12.

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