ESPN: UNC’s Fedora among 39 coaches who top their state’s payroll

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When asked by a reporter in 1930 about his $80,000 salary being more than President Herbert Hoover’s $75,000 annual pay, baseball legend-in-the-making Babe Ruth had a simple response.

“I had a better year than Hoover,” Ruth said.

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Fast forward to 2018, and it’s not uncommon for figures in the sports world to make more than elected leaders. That’s even true when those sports figures are on the taxpayer’s dole.

ESPN, using data from a USA Today report, found in 39 states, a college football or basketball coach was the highest paid public employee. That includes North Carolina.

Now you might think that state-high salary belongs to University of North Carolina Men’s Basketball Coach Roy Williams. After all, Ol’ Roy has won three NCAA championships, eight ACC regular season titles and three ACC Tournament crowns. He’s also a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National College Basketball Hall of Fame. But you’d be wrong.



USA Today reports Williams will make $2,182,986 this year. That’s a smidge less than the $2.2 million NC State pays Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Keatts (formerly of UNCW fame). ESPN says Williams is actually, get this, the lowest paid coach in the ACC. Let that sink in for a second.

But even Keatts is not the highest paid state employee.

No. That honor goes to UNC Football Coach Larry Fedora at $2.3 million, according to the ESPN report. That’s compared to $144,399 paid to Gov. Roy Cooper. Of course, that Ol’ Roy recently boosted the salaries of many of his cabinet secretaries above his own.

So what does $2.3 million get you? Well, in his six seasons in Chapel Hill, Fedora is 43-34 (27-21 in the ACC) and coming off his worst season: a 3-9 finish (1-7 ACC). He is three years removed from his lone ACC Coastal Division title.

Now, we’d probably all like the kinda coin Fedora, Williams and Keatts make, but the three of them combined don’t stack up to their private-school colleague. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is the highest paid college basketball coach in the nation at $8,982,325, USA Today reports. And that’s still a couple million behind the highest paid coach in football or basketball: Alabama’s Nick Saban, who is paid $11.1 million to coach the public university’s football team.

So what do you think? Are these coaches worth the money? Post your comment below.