Anyone have any insights on pay differences between coaches in different divisions in the NCAA? I know head coaches at big D1 schools will be paid a pretty nice salary (assuming 100-300k at the top?), but what are D2 or D3 schools making for head and/or assistant coaches? I'm just curious as to what the pay differences are at the different levels. Would a head coach at a D2 make similar to an assistant at D1 (but the assistant still in charge of distance)? What do assistants of distance coaches make? I know there's a lot of variety but any insights at all would be great.
I started off as an assistant distance at public D3 - $6k/year + grad. tuition. After 2 years where men's xc was 3rd and 1st at NCAAs (2 highest finishes in program history) and women were top-10 and men's track was 2nd outdoors, next stop was assistant distance at another public D3 in a different state where pay was $7,500/year.
After men's xc at 2nd school improved to 3rd at NCAAs during my 3rd year (which was highest in program history, hadn't made NCAAs in decades before my 1st year there), got my first head coaching gig for XC at a private, liberal-arts D3 in the same state where pay was $34k.
After 1 year at that program where had highest conference and regional finish in program history, plus largest recruiting class, got a head XC/track gig at public D3 back in first state at a different school. Program was woefully under-resourced. Pay was $46k. 2 part-time assistants (i.e. coached their event groups at practice and meets only, no recruiting, no admin., etc.), each made $12k. After a few years of that, went to head XC at a private, liberal arts in a very large metro area of a different state where pay was $45k.
After that, I got out of coaching. The time commitment relative to the pay (and relative to the pay I can make in other professions) and the lack of opportunity to coach at a school that actually has the resources to compete, and the lack of being able to choose where to live and work just made it not worth it. It's fun, but as a profession it is a joke.
It 100% depends on what the individual school decides and other schools in their conference.
D1 head coach in the MAC? 70-110k
D1 head coach in the SEC? Depends which school but can be anywhere from 90k-350k
D1 head coach in a smaller conference than the MAC? Probably more like 60k-90k
Hell, I've seen D1 head coaches paid as little as 45k.
D2? Again it depends on the conference and school.
A lot of D3/NAIA head coaches are getting 40k-70k I imagine based on some positions I know about.
If we're talking assistants, every division will have positions for 5k-15k part time or as high as 60k per year full time. There's no standardized payment requirement and schools will pay as little as possible to attract a candidate.
Here's a list of all of my positions:
Volunteer D1 major conference - $0
part time assistant D1 middle of the road conference - 10k
Can give you some D2 insight. Keep in mind, I’m at a state school, so these numbers can/will look very different than others at private schools.
Started as a part-time (coached my group only and recruited my group only): year 1 was $8k, years 2 and 3 were $14k. No benefits, no tuition help.
Was promoted after year 3 to full-time (coach my group and help recruit entire program): first year was paid $42k, next year $56k, last two years $68k. Eligible for a pay raise every 2-3 years depending on your tier and years of service. Full benefits, tuition reimbursement. I know plenty of coaches across divisions getting paid way more and get paid WAY less. It really is an odd field as pay is all over the place. The D2 coaches passed a proposal this year at convention that is hopefully going to make pay across the division a little more transparent.
I don't think a breakdown by NCAA division is necessarily going to follow a pattern. The University of Chicago was an original member of the Big 10 conference, but is now non-scholarship D3. It's one of the most prestigious, selective colleges in the US (comparable to an Ivy League school), and extra-curricular activities (including athletics) for the students are extremely important give the students plenty of options for "campus life". (MIT and Caltech are similar.) So, a coach there could get paid decently--especially if they had other (PE) teaching assignments to give them a full-time job.
A NAIA head track and field coach should not make less than a state school assistant custodian ($46k salary, medical, vision and dental benefits, free tuition, 5.5 weeks of paid vacation, only working 40 hours per week, plus retirement benefits.
Am I the only non-college coach shocked by how high these salaries are? As a head coach of a mid-sized private school track program where I have to manage successful boys and girls middle and high school teams, I make a total of $5000 for the season. I expected there to be a big jump from what I make to college for all the reasons anybody would be think of (higher level, requirement of better credentials, additional recruiting and admin responsibilities, longer seasons and year-round time committments etc), but I never thought coaches could make $50,000+ a year doing this? I assume most coaches coach because they love what they do. There's so much that one has to sacrifice to do the job, but those of us who do coach are more than happy to make those sacrifices. So a $50K salary on top of doing what I love to do actually sounds appealing.
That's great, but that's 2 examples of directors, in one of the most expensive metro areas in the country, out of almost 450 programs in D3. Even if we assume that there are a few others littered around expensive metro areas, less than 1% of total coaching positions in D3 cross/track pay that much. They're outliers that aren't very representative and that very few coaches ever get the chance at, regardless of their actual coaching abilities.
Started as XC assistant and head track a small Midwestern D3 at $42K. Later took over XC and got a $4K raise. No cost of living through eight years. Moved to a better academic D3 school got $58K. Cost of living increase every year, but had reductions during Covid. There are D3's that make 90K, but I'd suggest the majority make $50K-$75K. Many make less.
Most of us have many duties in addition to coaching but get summers off. You don't want to know what the assistants make. It's embarrassing considering tuition is skyrocketing.
South Dakota has a really easy to use public employee salary lookup. You can check out all sorts of coaches, administrators and professors at a variety of levels. Highest paid SD track coach (at least at public university) - Lucky Huber - 90k per year. Olympian Rod Dehaven doesn't quite make as much - 83k per year