TV, radio rights, shoe deals cover much of coaching pay

Your answer to a recent question of how the money from Ducks paraphernalia is distributed prompted me to ask where the money for Ducks football coaches' salaries comes from. Mark Helfrich left with an $11.5 million buyout over the next two years. The University of Oregon has hired a new coach, Willie Taggart,$16 million over the next five years. That's a lot of money for a public university in state facing a budge shortfall. Where does that kind of money come from?

— John T., Ashland

Whether it's Nick Saban at Alabama or the latest hire at Oregon, the majority of those mega-buck salaries are covered by athletic department funds that come from, television and radio rights, shoe and athletic apparel contracts, and other financial deals that have nothing to do with a university's academic programs.

On average, a top college coach's base salary accounts for about a quarter of his total compensation. Taggart's base salary is $2.9 million this year, rising to $3.5 million in 2020, with a plethora of incentives that could increase the the new coach's take home pay.

As well as the hundreds of millions forked over by ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC to televise college games; radio distribution by IMG and Westwood One produce streams of dollars, and Nike, Under Armour and Adidas fork over increasing fortunes.

Last year, Under Armour signed UCLA to 15-year, $280 million deal, starting with $15 million up front. Approximately $11 million annually follows in rights and marketing fees.

While such contracts rarely specify where the money goes, athletic departments are thus armed with cash for big salaries.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to To see a collection of columns, go to We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.


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