Jim Harbaugh, Highest-Paid Public Employees
AP Photo/Tony Ding

In 40 States, Sports Coaches are the Highest-Paid Public Employees

I've never put much stock in the saying "money can't buy happiness." Finding a well-paying job is what we're all striving to do in this modern, materialistic world. Without a healthy financial backing, many of our hobbies and vacations are put on hold until we have the dough to do it. Give me a six-figure salary, and I'll show you the happiest, debt-free version of myself.

But when you see the highest-paid public employees across America, you start to realize how important sports are to the image and perception of billion dollar institutions that are supposed to set young kids up for that dream of high salaries and life-long success. ESPN compiled a list of the highest-paid employees in public roles across the country over the last year. According to that data, the highest-paid state employees in 40 states across America are head coaches of NCAA athletic programs.

Nope, vice presidents of the schools your kids are attending don't make squat compared to winning football games. Not a chance that medical school and health sciences employees — you know, the people conducting research that's actually keeping us alive — are more important than NCAA Tournament bids.

In some cases, state governors don't even sniff what college football coaches make. For example, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster earned $106,100, according ESPN's data. As for Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney? He made almost 90-times that much money this year.

What follows are the names, positions and 2019 earnings of the highest-paid public employees in every state. Only one woman, University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, made the list.

Highest-Paid Public Employees by State


Name: Nick Saban

Job: University of Alabama football coach

Salary: $8.9 million


Name: Dr. James R. Johnsen

Job: University of Alaska president

Salary: $384,600


Name: Sean Miller

Job: University of Arizona men's basketball coach

Salary: $2.7 million


Name: Chad Morris

Job: Former University of Arkansas football coach

Salary: $4 million


Name: Chip Kelly

Job: UCLA football coach

Salary: $3.5 million


Name: Mel Tucker

Job: University of Colorado football coach

Salary: $2.4 million


Name: Dan Hurley

Job: University of Connecticut men's basketball coach

Salary: $3 million


Name: Dr. Mark T. Brainard

Job: Delaware Tech president

Salary: $246,000


Name: Dan Mullen

Job: University of Florida football coach

Salary: $6.1 million


Name: Kirby Smart

Job: University of Georgia football coach

Salary: $6.9 million


Name: Dr. Jay Boughanem

Job: University of Hawai'i staff surgeon

Salary: $634,000


Name: Bryan Harsin

Job: Boise State University football coach

Salary: $1.8 million


Name: Lovie Smith

Job: University of Illinois football coach

Salary: $4 million


Name: Jeff Brohm

Job: Purdue University football coach

Salary: $6.6 million


Name: Kirk Ferentz

Job: University of Iowa football coach

Salary: $4.8 million


Name: Bill Self

Job: University of Kansas men's basketball coach

Salary: $4.1 million


Name: John Calipari

Job: University of Kentucky men's basketball coach

Salary: $9.3 million


Name: Ed Orgeron

Job: Louisiana State University football coach

Salary: $4 million


Name: Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy

Job: University of Maine president

Salary: $350,000


Name: Mark Turgeon

Job: University of Maryland men's basketball coach

Salary: $2.9 million


Name: Dr. Michael Collins

Job: University of Massachusetts chancellor

Salary: $1.1 million


Name: Jim Harbaugh

Job: University of Michigan football coach

Salary: $7.5 million


Name: P.J. Fleck

Job: University of Minnesota football coach

Salary: $3.6 million


Name: Matt Luke

Job: Former Ole Miss football coach

Salary: $3.1 million


Name: Cuonzo Martin

Job: University of Missouri men's basketball coach

Salary: $2.8 million


Name: Laurence Hubbard

Job: Montana State Fund president

Salary: $342,300


Name: Scott Frost

Job: University of Nebraska football coach

Salary: $5 million


Name: Tony Sanchez

Job: Former University of Nevada-Las Vegas football coach

Salary: $602,000

New Hampshire

Name: James W. Dean Jr.

Job: University of New Hampshire president

Salary: $445,000

New Jersey

Name: Chris Ash

Job: Former Rutgers University football coach

Salary: $2.3 million

New Mexico

Name: Bob Davie

Job: University of New Mexico football coach

Salary: $823,700

New York

Name: Dr. Thomas J. Quatroche Jr.

Job: ECMC President and CEO

Salary: $876,400

North Carolina

Name: Roy Williams

Job: University of North Carolina men's basketball coach

Salary: $3.3 million

North Dakota

Name: Dr. Larry P. Nybladh

Job: Grand Forks Public Schools superintendent

Salary: $231,200


Name: Ryan Day

Job: Ohio State University football coach

Salary: $4.5 million


Name: Lincoln Riley

Job: University of Oklahoma football coach

Salary: $6.4 million


Name: Dana Altman

Job: University of Oregon men's basketball coach

Salary: $2.8 million


Name: James Franklin

Job: Penn State University football coach

Salary: $5.7 million

Rhode Island

Name: David Cox

Job: University of Rhode Island men's basketball coach

Salary: $700,000

South Carolina

Name: Dabo Swinney

Job: Clemson University football coach

Salary: $9.3 million

South Dakota

Name: T.J. Otzelberger

Job: Former SD State men's basketball coach

Salary: $400,000


Name: Jeremy Pruitt

Job: University of Tennessee football coach

Salary: $3.9 million


Name: Jimbo Fisher

Job: Texas A&M University football coach

Salary: $7.5 million


Name: Kyle Whittingham

Job: University of Utah football coach

Salary: $4 million


Name: Dr. Frederick C. Morin III

Job: University of Vermont dean

Salary: $582,300


Name: Tony Bennett

Job: University of Virginia men's basketball coach

Salary: $4.2 million


Name: Chris Petersen

Job: Former University of Washington football coach

Salary: $4.6 million

West Virginia

Name: Bob Huggins

Job: WVU men's basketball coach

Salary: $3.9 million


Name: Paul Chryst

Job: University of Wisconsin football coach

Salary: $4.2 million


Name: Chris Bohl

Job: University of Wyoming football coach

Salary: $2.1 million

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