March Mad Cash: head coaches earn big tourney bonuses

(WBIR - Knoxville) The month of March is when college basketball coaches make big names for themselves on the national stage of the NCAA tournament. It's also when coaches make big cash bonuses.

There is a lot more than school pride at stake when the University of Tennessee men's and women's basketball teams take the court in the "Sweet 16" round of the NCAA tournament. A win on the court adds tens of thousands of dollars to the pockets of coaches at UT. The same goes for the coaches on the opposing benches.

Big Orange Bonus

Win, lose, or draw, the University of Tennessee pays head coach Cuonzo Martin $1.35 million a year for his services during the regular season. When the Vols squeaked into the "big dance," Martin earned an additional $50,000 bonus for making the NCAA Tournament. That bonus grew to $75,000 when UT made it to the Sweet 16.

Martin's postseason bonus will grow to $100,000 if the Vols take down Michigan on Friday night and advance to the Elite Eight. Martin's contract calls for a $150,000 bonus if UT makes it to the Final Four. Winning the entire tournament will net Martin a $200,000 bonus.

Big Blue Bonus

There's also plenty of green at stake for the Big Blue of Michigan. By making it to the Sweet 16, Head Coach John Beilein has already made a beeline to the bank with $75,000 in bonuses. That total comes from a $25,000 bonus for making the tournament and then $25,000 per tournament win. Beilein earns $25,000 for each win from this point forward in the tournament.

Bluegrass Bonuses

The winner between the Vols and Wolverines will advance to face the winner of Louisville versus Kentucky. That match-up proves the cash is always greener in the bluegrass state. Kentucky's John Calipari and Louisville's Rick Pitino are two of the highest paid college coaches in the nation in any sport.

Calipari's contract pays him $5.2 million before bonuses. Coach Cal has raked in $100 thousand for the advancing to the Sweet 16. His bonus grows to $150,000 if he advances to the Final Four and balloons to $350,000 for winning the entire tournament.

Rick Pitino's contract pays a salary of $4.9 million. He earned $50,000 for winning his conference tournament. In the NCAA Tournament, Pitino has already pulled in $50,000 for making it to the Sweet 16. He'll get an additional $50,000 if he beats Kentucky to advance to the Elite Eight. Tack on an additional $75,000 for a Final Four appearance. If the Cardinals successfully defend their title, Pitino's contract hatches an additional $150,000 bonus nest egg. All told, Pitino can possibly earn up to $325,000 in the NCAA tournament.

"Billy Ball" Bonus

The Florida Gators pay bonuses out the reptilian nose for "Billy ball." Head coach Billy Donovan has already chomped on a total of $225,000 in bonuses for winning the SEC regular season title, the SEC tournament, being named the SEC coach of the year, finishing the regular season in the Associated Press poll's top 10, and advancing to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. Donovan can earn a $100,000 bonus by taking Florida to the Final Four and a $150,000 bonus for winning the national championship. All told, Donovan's bonus green from the gators will grow to $400,000 if Florida takes home the title. He also has a chance to tack on an additional $50,000 if he is named the AP national coach of the year.

Lady Vols Bracket Bonus

Leading the Lady Vols is hardly a volunteer job for head coach Holly Warlick. She earns a $550,000 salary before bonuses. Winning the SEC tournament earned Warlick a $25,000 bonus. However, she missed out on a $25,000 bonus that kicks in when she wins the SEC regular season title.

Warlick has brought in $40,000 in bonuses so far in the NCAA tournament. She gets $20,000 for making the NCAA tournament. That bonus grew to $40,000 when the Lady Vols made it to the Sweet 16. The bonus in Warlick's wallet will grow to $60,000 for advancing to the Elite Eight, $80,000 for the Final Four, and $150,000 if the Lady Vols manage to grind their way to the ninth national championship in program history.

Athletic Directors' Bonus Rounds

Coaches are not the only athletic administrators with money on the line during the NCAA tournament. Many athletic directors have contracts that kick in bonus cash with basketball victories.

The University of Tennessee's athletic director, Dave Hart, is one of the few who does not earn performance-based bonuses. Hart does not make any additional money based on how Cuonzo Martin or Holly Warlick's teams perform. Hart earns an annual salary of $817,250.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart has already made $40,000 in bonus cash by virtue of the Wildcats men and women basketball squads making the NCAA tournament. That bonus consists of $15,000 for the women making the big dance and $25,000 for the men's team making the tourney. Barnhart's contract calls for a $25,000 bonus for each basketball team that makes the Final Four, meaning he could still potentially pull in another $50,000 this season. Barnhart's annual salary is $654,000 with an additional $240,000 in potential performance-bonuses.

Louisville's athletic director, Tom Jurich, is one of the highest paid ADs in the nation with a salary of $1,411,915. He has already made a $45,000 bonus for the Cardinals' men and women making the NCAA basketball tournament. His contract allows him to earn up to $344,000 in performance bonuses.

Michigan's AD has a bit more secretive arrangement regarding bonuses. Dave Brandon's contract gives him $900,000 as the head of the Big Blue athletic department. He also can make up to $200,000 a year in performance bonuses. However, the stipulations of what will earn him that extra cash is negotiated and agreed upon on a yearly basis between Brandon and the school's president.

Jeremy Foley at the University of Florida earns a salary of $1,233,250, making him the third highest paid athletic director in the nation. Foley can earn up to $50,000 in various performance bonuses.


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