You always hear about big markets in sports. Coaches and players in big markets make more because the audience is bigger. (Kobe Bryant justified his recent zillion dollar extension this way.) Local markets may be old school thinking in a sense, since people can now watch any game they want–not just the local team–and digital kids in Detroit sometimes grow up loving the San Antonio Spurs or the San Francisco 49ers. But big markets aside, programs with pedigree still have the most money–and there is hardly a program in college sports with as much pedigree as UCLA men’s basketball. Not to mention it’s in the second biggest market in the country.
That’s why Steve Alford, the former Indiana All-American, gets paid $3.5 million a year to coach the UCLA Bruins. That makes him the 7th highest paid basketball coach in the country according to USA Today data. Other coaches at this pay scale are guys like Kentucky’s John Calipari, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Kansas’s Bill Self, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who tops the list–by a lot–at $9.7 million. They all have multiple Final Four appearances and at least one championship. Alford has never escaped the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, but then again he’s coached Iowa and New Mexico mostly–he only started coaching UCLA last year. And he has time: after he was on the job for only a year, UCLA gave Alford a one-year extension, so his deal runs through the 2020-21 season!