Yes, some college coaches make really big money. For the most part, they coach football and basketball. Now there are a handful of softball coaches that make big money, too, but it is the exception, not the rule.
The other day someone asked me how I was adjusting to life without my big college coaching income. He was, honestly, concerned about my well being. Hoping that I was squeezing by somehow with the little bit of money I make as an instructor.
So here is the reality of college softball coaching salaries:
There are some coaches who are getting paid very well for what they do, Patty Gasso and Mike White have had their salaries publicly speculated on but if you really want to know all states list what their employees make.
I don’t really want to get specific about each coach, or take the time to search for each coaches salary, but I’ll make an informed guess that about two dozen coaches make more than $250,000 a year.
The next level, I would guess, is probably about 80 coaches make over $100,000 but less than the quarter of a million mark we discussed above. For example, one of the countries best coaches, Kelly Inouye-Prerez, is rumored to be in this category. Now is that a nice salary for coaching softball, yeah I would say it is, but it certainly doesn’t fall into the OMG she is well paid category. Especially when you consider what it costs to live in California…
So why is that important, you ask?
That means the vast majority of all softball coaches are making below $100,000 and many way below six figures.
My highest salary as a Division 1 head coach was $72,000 a year (my first head coaching job paid $7,000 a year!) and I was happy to be making that amount because I knew of other head coaches in our conference making in the low thirties! Now again, I get it, that is a nice living for doing something that I would have done for free but not quite the “Big Money” that my friend assumed I lost.
So far, we have only discussed head coach salaries but assistant coach salaries are, as you would expect, much lower. Now there are exceptions but when they talk about assistant coach positions being entry level they really mean entry level. I would bet my house that the vast majority of college assistant softball coaches are making less than $20,000 a year. And I know of several that are making less than I made in my first position just to have the opportunity to coach our great game.
So what’s the point?
Next time you hear someone complain that a camp is being run at a school “just” so their assistant coaches can make some money, know that there is a real reason why that is happening. Without camp income, without working at other people’s camps, without giving lessons, many college coaches can’t make ends meet.
Not too long ago I worked at the Christmas Camp at the University of Tennessee and I had the opportunity to work with a coach who has won national championships, and is very established at his school. I also heard talk about having to run hitting and pitching clinics every week to supplement his income.
So please don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that college coaches are rolling in cash. It’s just not true. Most people still coach this game for the love of the game because many of them could do a whole lot better financially doing something else.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.