Skip to main content

March Madness is nearly here, as some of the top ranked teams (and some underdogs) get the chance to come out on top.

Much of the top-ranked teams in the Associated Press' poll don't come as much of a surprise. A lot of them are long-time college basketball powerhouses, and one way that's reflected is in the salaries of their head coaches; of the top 25 ranked teams by AP before the start of the season, 13 of them are on this list of highest-paid coaches.

It pays to coach some of the biggest schools in the NCAA, in no small part due to the NCAA going out of their way to ensure it doesn't pay to play there. Still, many of these coaches have impressive and storied careers that warranted paydays. These are the 28 highest-paid coaches in all of college basketball for 2019-20 using information from Stadium.

1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

Salary: $8.98 million

Who else could it have been? Coach K has been the head coach of Duke since 1980. They've made the NCAA tournament in 35 of the last 36 seasons, are well on their way to another one and haven't missed it since the 1994-95 season. And even in that season, Coach K coached just 12 games before leaving for injury treatment. He has presided over five NCAA Championship teams, with an additional three teams that lost but made the finals. He's the only coach in men's college basketball history to win 1,000 games with a single team, a feat he accomplished en route to winning the most games of any college basketball coach in NCAA history. It would've been more surprising if he wasn't No. 1.

2. John Calipari, Kentucky

Salary: $8.04 million

No matter what school Calipari coaches in, he has never been far from some sort of controversy. But his record as a coach has kept him around. With the exception of a brief NBA stint in the late 90s, Calipari has been a head coach in the NCAA since 1988, and has coached Kentucky since 2009. In that stint with the Wildcats he has won one championship, made another Finals appearance, made the Final Four two other times and has three other appearances in the Elite Eight. It's been an impressive run, to say the least.

3. Mick Cronin, UCLA

Salary: $5.5 million

Cronin is in the first year of his contract as head coach of the Bruins. A head coach in the Division I world since 2003, Cronin has seen a lot of success at programs that didn't have the resources or name brand UCLA does. Coaching Murray State for 3 years from 2003-06, his teams went 69-24 and made the NCAA tournament twice. From there he was hired by Cincinnati, where he coached for 13 seasons. Before leaving for UCLA, his Bearcats teams had made the NCAA tournament in nine consecutive seasons, peaking with a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2012.

4. Rick Barnes, Tennessee

Salary: $4.7 million

Rick Barnes is in his 5th season with Tennessee, steadily improving both their record and their success in the NCAA tournament. Prior to his tenure as Volunteers coach he was with Texas for 17 seasons, as well as having head coaching stints with George Mason, Providence and Clemson. After getting Tennessee to the Sweet Sixteen in 2019, Barnes was rewarded with a lucrative new contract extension worth $26 million.

5. Bill Self, Kansas

Salary: $4.48 million

Bill Self has led Kansas to the NCAA tournament every year he has been head coach since he started in 2003. He also made it the three years prior as coach of Illinois, and the two years before that as well as coach of Tulsa. That is 21 straight tournament appearances for Self, with a championship to show for it with his 2007-08 Jayhawks team. He's also certain to make it 22 straight this season. He is currently in the midst of a 10-year contract, having solidified himself at one of the best college programs.

6. Chris Beard, Texas Tech

Salary: $4.2 million

Chris Beard is a newcomer to this list, and has coached for a fraction of the time some of the others on this list have. But that's what happens when you take a team to its first ever National Championship game in just your third season, as Beard did with Texas Tech last year. Though they lost in overtime to Virginia, the season was the most successful one in Red Raiders history. Texas Tech wasted no time in making sure they keep Beard around, signing him to a 6-year, $27.45 million contract extension.

7. Roy Williams, North Carolina

Salary: $4.04 million

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

The Roy Williams era at UNC has been a phenomenally successful one, culminating in NCAA tournament championships in 2005 (just his second season with the Tar Heels), 2009 and 2017. Williams made a fourth appearance in the NCAA finals with North Carolina in 2016, and also appeared there in 2003 during his final season as Kansas head coach. Though 2019-20 has not been a season to remember for North Carolina, Williams has been one of the most consistently successful head coaches in college basketball since he started in 1988.

8. Chris Mack, Louisville

Salary: $4 million

Chris Mack is currently in his second season with the Cardinals, having gotten Louisville to the first round of the NCAA tournament in his first. Prior to this, Mack had seen some success as the head coach of Xavier from 2009-2018, making the Elite Eight in 2017. Louisville signed Mack to a seven year contract in 2018.

9. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

Salary: $3.957 million

Izzo is in his 25th season coaching Michigan State, and is currently riding a 22-year NCAA tournament streak with a 23rd consecutive appearance likely. His Spartans won the tournament once, in the 1999-00 season, and reached the final game again in 2008-09, losing to North Carolina. Izzo and his Spartans team are trying to return to a similar level of glory, having failed to make it past the second round for three consecutive seasons amidst a scandal involving sexual assault allegations against former Michigan State athletes before returning to the Final Four in 2019.

10. Bob Huggins, West Virginia

Salary: $3.955 million

Huggins has never won the NCAA tournament despite being a head coach since 1980. But throughout his career he has consistently built programs that contend year in and year out, and that is true of his West Virginia team, which he has coached since 2007. They've made the Sweet Sixteen in three of the last four tournaments, and they're hoping to go well beyond that this year; Huggins has never made it past the Final Four in his career. After a disappointing 2018-19 season, Huggins' Mountaineers have rebounded this season and could be looking at a return to the NCAA tournament.

11. Bruce Pearl, Auburn

Salary: $3.8 million

Bruce Pearl saw great success in the mid to late-2000s as coach of Tennessee - that is, of course, until NCAA violations led to the team firing him in 2011. That didn't stop Tigers fans from welcoming him with open arms when Auburn announced his hiring in 2014. Pearl's Auburn teams struggled in his first three years but broke through to make the NCAA tournament in 2018, falling in the second round. They then took a massive step forward in the 2019 tournament, making it all the way to the Final Four.

12. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

Salary: $3.77 million

Krystkowiak actually played in the NBA for years before coaching with teams like the Bucks, Spurs, Bulls and Lakers. He had coached at both the college level (for Montana) and the NBA level (the Bucks) before becoming the Utes head coach in 2011, where he proceeded to rebuild a struggling team into a perennial contender. But since a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2015 and a second-round exit in 2016, the team has failed to make the tournament despite solid seasons.

13. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Salary: $3.5 million

Gregg Marshall has done an impressive job of taking a Wichita State program with a spotty history and turning them into a team that has now made seven consecutive NCAA tournaments. Their greatest success came in 2013 when Marshall took the team to the Final Four, upsetting both the No. 1 seed (Gonzaga) and No. 2 seed (Ohio State) in the Western Regional conference before falling to eventual champion Louisville.

14. Archie Miller, Indiana

Salary: $3.31 million

Archie Miller is just 41 years old, and his first season with Indiana wasn't the most successful. But Miller was hired to help rebuild the storied Hoosiers franchise after his success coaching the Dayton Flyers. Before he left to take the Hoosiers job, Dayton had made 4 consecutive NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2014.

15. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma

Salary: $3.3 million

Kruger's career has brought him plenty of success. Oklahoma is the fifth college team he's brought to the NCAA tournament in his career along with Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and ULNV. He also had an NBA stint coaching the Atlanta Hawks. But it's been here at Oklahoma that he has seen some of his greatest success, advancing all the way to the Final Four back in 2016. It was his first Final Four appearance since his Florida team in 1994.

16. Shaka Smart, Texas

Salary: $3.3 million

Smart is entering his fourth season with the Longhorns, trying to get them past the first round of the NCAA tournament where they stalled out in two of his first three years. They did not reach the tournament in 2019, but did win the National Invitation Tournament. Smart got to Texas after an impressive career at VCU, where his Rams never won fewer than 26 games in any of his six seasons. He is likely best known still as the coach who stunned the 2011 NCAA tournament, leading an 11th ranked VCU team to the Final Four via several upsets, including No. 1-seed Kansas.

17. Tom Crean, Georgia

Salary: $3.2 million

Tom Crean was hired by Georgia in 2018 to try and improve the Bulldogs and turn them into a bigger contender. Prior to Georgia, Crean was the head coach of Marquette for 9 seasons and Indiana for another 9. His most notable season was at Marquette in 2002-03, when his Golden Eagles made it to the Final Four before falling to Kansas. At Indiana, he got the Hoosiers to the Sweet Sixteen three times, most recently in 2016.

18. Dana Altman, Oregon

Salary: $3.125 million

In his 16 seasons with Creighton from 1994-2010, Dana Altman made the team a consistent player in the NCAA tournament before leaving for the Ducks. He has seen even greater tournament success since joining Oregon, making the team a Pac-12 powerhouse and reaching the Elite Eight in 2016 and the Final Four in 2017. It was Altman's first ever appearance in the Final Four, and Oregon's first appearance since they won the inaugural NCAA tournament in 1939.

19. Frank Martin, South Carolina

Salary: $3.05 million

In Martin's first season with the Gamecocks they won 14 games. By the 2015-16 season, they were up to a 25-win season. South Carolina rewarded Martin with a hefty new contract, and he rewarded the program by taking the team to the NCAA tournament in 2017, making it all the way to the program's first ever Final Four appearance, losing to Gonzaga. But the team regressed and failed to make the tournament in the next two seasons.

20. Tony Bennett, Virginia

Salary: $3.025 million

Big things were expected of Virginia last year, and a big reason for that was Bennett once again at the helm. They were also looking for some redemption, though. Bennett has turned the Cavs into one of the strongest teams in college basketball since he took over in 2009, and the 2017-18 was to be the pinnacle of it. They went 31-3 and were given the No. 1 seed in the South Regional. But the team was stunned, and became the first top-seeded team in the history of the NCAA tournament to ever lose to a No. 16 seed, as UMBC defeated them handily. That Cavaliers team wanted revenge in 2016 and they got it, making it all the way to the finals where they beat Texas Tech in overtime for Bennett's first championship as head coach.

21. Kelvin Sampson, Houston

Salary: $3 million

Prior to his tenure with Houston, Sampson had not been a head coach in several years, after a number of NCAA violations led to his resignation from Indiana in 2008 and a five-year show-cause order on him. He worked as an assistant in the NBA until that order ended, at which point Houston hired him in 2014. Houston steadily improved under Sampson, culminating in a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2019.

22. Chris Holtmann, Ohio State

Salary: $3 million

Holtmann is in just his third season with the Buckeyes, but he came over as a highly sought-after candidate. Currently age 48, he was lured to Ohio State after an impressive three-year tenure as head coach at Butler, taking the Bulldogs all the way to the Sweet Sixteen in his third season. His first Ohio State season, in 2017-18, saw the team improve their record by eight games from the previous season and make the NCAA tournament, losing to Gonzaga in the second round. They made it to the second round again in 2019 but fell to Houston.

23. Mark Turgeon, Maryland

Salary: $2.96 million

Turgeon has built several different programs into consistent contenders in his career with the NCAA, going from Wichita State to Texas A&M before settling into his current job coaching the Terrapins. After failing to make the tournament in Turgeon's first three years, Maryland made three straight tournaments 2015-17, making the Sweet Sixteen in 2016. In 2018, though, found the Terrapins on the outside looking in come tournament time, and they failed to make it past the second round in 2019.

24. Brad Underwood, Illinois

Salary: $2.95 million

Brad Underwood's NCAA coaching career started at Stephen F. Austin, where his teams made the tournament in all three seasons he coached and pulled off first-round upsets twice. From there he went to Oklahoma State and brought them to the NCAA tournament, and after one season there he signed a contract for his current job at Illinois. But despite Underwood's large contract, Illinois underperformed in his first two seasons. 2019-20, though, has been a much more successful one for the Fighting Illini, fighting for a potential spot in the NCAA tournament.

25. Cuonzo Martin, Missouri

Salary: $2.9 million

Martin is now in his third year with Missouri. Prior to that, he spent three seasons at Cal and three seasons at Tennessee, with one NCAA tournament each to show for it. He brought the Tigers to the first round of the tournament in 2018, but failed to make it in 2019 and likely won't be in the 2020 tournament. Martin made the Sweet Sixteen in his final year at Tennessee but has not made it beyond that as a head coach yet.

26. Kermit Davis, Ole Miss

Salary: $2.85 million

Davis is in his second year as the Ole Miss head coach, having brought them to the NCAA tournament in 2019 (they lost in the first round). Davis started his head coaching career in 1988 when he began at Idaho. He got Idaho to the tournament in two consecutive seasons before leaving for Texas A&M - where he resigned after a season for rules violations. From 2002-2018, he was head coach for Middle Tennessee.

27. Sean Miller, Arizona

Salary: $2.8 million

Miller hasn't brought Arizona a championship like coach Lute Olson did over 20 years ago, but as head coach since 2009 he has consistently kept the team in contention and led them into the NCAA tournament. He has yet to make it past the Elite Eight in his career, both at Arizona and at his previous head coaching position at Xavier. But he has kept the program a successful one, rebuilding the first year with the Wildcats and making them a contender again.

28. Dan Hurley, UConn

Salary: $2.8 million

Hurley is in his second season with Connecticut, having coached them to a 16-17 record in 2018-19. His first two seasons as a head coach in the NCAA were at Wagner from 2010-12, taking them from 13-17 in his first season to 25-6 in his second. From there, he went to Rhode Island from 2012-18. Hurley steadily improved the Rams program and got them to the NCAA tournament in his final two seasons with them, falling in the second round of both tournaments.