Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

December 17, 2013

Highly paid coaches are the cost of big money college football

(Continued)

Brown was making $400,000 at North Carolina when Texas hired him for $750,000. Since 1997, he's been treated quite well at Texas, where he earned a little less than $5.5 million in 2013. His salary was second only to Saban’s in college football, according to figures compiled by USA Today.

The sad truth is that even though Brown wanted to continue coaching, Texas wanted a change. College football is a business where winning trumps everything else – even friendships.

Money is not a problem in Austin. The University of Texas operates the best funded sports program in the country. Revenue in 2012 was $163.3 million, according to the USA Today report last month, besting runner-up Ohio State by more than $20 million.

To put that in perspective, Texas’ annual revenue tops that of many other major schools by more than $100 million annually - universities that include Kansas State, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Oregon State, Colorado, Missouri and Mississippi, just to name a few.

College sports is big business, and schools operate like professional organizations in every way except to when it comes to compensating those who actually play the games. Then the NCAA and its member universities revert to the quaint notion that players are students who, when not in the classroom, double as athletes.

The NCAA has made it clear that student-athletes won’t become paid players; scholarships are enough compensation. That issue's off the table, at least for now.

But when revenues vary so widely among member institutions, it begs a question about fair competition on athletic fields.

The athletics-generated incomes of about 14 schools are at or above $100 million per year. Not surprisingly, those schools are the powers of the powerful: Half are in the Southeastern Conference, the Big 10 claims four followed by the Big 12 with two and the Atlantic Coast Conference with one.

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