The college basketball season is officially here, and with an opening night shocker - Duke beating Kentucky isn't surprising, but Duke absolutely throttling Kentucky is.
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, 12 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 27 highest-paid coaches in all of college basketball for 2018.
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 34 of the last 35 seasons, 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: $7.99 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 two other appearances in the Elite Eight. It's been an impressive run, to say the least.
3. Chris Holtmann, Ohio State
Salary: $7.15 million
Holtmann is in just his second season with the Buckeyes, but he came over as a highly sought-after candidate. Currently age 46, 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, 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.
4. Bill Self, Kansas
Salary: $4.95 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 20 straight tournament appearances for Self, with a championship to show for it with his 2007-08 Jayhawks team. He is currently in the midst of a 10-year contract, having solidified himself at one of the best college programs.
5. Tom Izzo, Michigan State
Salary: $4.36 million
Izzo is starting his 24th season coaching Michigan State, and is currently riding a 21-year NCAA tournament streak. 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.
6. Sean Miller, Arizona
Salary: $4.05 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.
7. Bob Huggins, West Virginia
Salary: $3.76 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.
8. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah
Salary: $3.39 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.
9. John Beilein, Michigan
Salary: $3.37 million
Michigan's records in Beilein's tenure since he took over in 2007 have been inconsistent, to say the least. They've won as many as 33 games in a season and as few as 10. But the highs have undeniably been high, and the highest one so far was last year when the made it all the way to the final game of the NCAA tournament, ultimately falling to Villanova. It was the first time in Beilein's lengthy career in college basketball that he made it to the Finals.
10. Archie Miller, Indiana
Salary: $3.2 million
Archie Miller is just 40 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.
11. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma
Salary: $3.1 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.
12. Shaka Smart, Texas
Salary: $3.1 million
Smart is entering his fourth season with the Longhorns, trying to get them past the first round of the NCAA tournament where they've stalled out in two of the past three years. 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.
13. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
Salary: $3.04 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. Tony Bennett, Virginia
Salary: $3 million
Big things are expected of this Virginia team, and a big reason for that is Bennett once again at the helm. They're 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. This Cavs team wants revenge.
15. Avery Johnson, Alabama
Salary: $2.89 million
Johnson is another coach who had a lengthy career playing in the NBA, most notably with the San Antonio Spurs where he won a title in 1999. From there he went into coaching in the NBA, finding success with the Mavericks and much less success with the Nets. He was hired in 2015 to be the next coach of Alabama, and they steadily improved in his first three years, making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year.
16. Scott Drew, Baylor
Salary: $2.87 million
Scott Drew came to Baylor in 2003 after a scandal led to the previous coach getting fired and the program get punished by the NCAA. Players left the program, and Drew had to rebuild it entirely. He managed to far surpass expectations, and in 2008 the Bears made their first NCAA tournament in over 20 years. Drew's teams have made two Elite Eights and were in the tournament in seven out of 10 seasons from 2008-17.
17. Frank Martin, South Carolina
Salary: $2.85 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 last year and failed to make the tournament.
18. Brad Underwood, Illinois
Salary: $2.76 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 last year, going just 14-18.
19. Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech
Salary: $2.75 million
College basketball fans were shocked when Buzz Williams left his previous job coaching a great Marquette program to run a struggling Virginia Tech program in 2014. But since starting there, he has done an admirable job building the program and team into something far more respectable, and in 2017 the Hokies made their first NCAA tournament since 2007. They've now made the tournament two years in a row under Williams, the first time Tech has done that since the mid-1980s.
20. Mark Turgeon, Maryland
Salary: $2.7 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. Last year, though, found the Terrapins on the outside looking in come tournament time.
21. Dana Altman, Oregon
Salary: $2.7 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.
22. Cuonzo Martin, Missouri
Salary: $2.7 million
Martin is now in his second 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 last year, and he's hoping to get his team back and deeper into it this year. Martin made the Sweet Sixteen in his final year at Tennessee but has not made it beyond that as a head coach yet.
23. Steve Alford, UCLA
Salary: $2.6 million
Steve Alford had a brief NBA career before his coaching career. He found varying degrees of success coaching Missouri State, Iowa and New Mexico before he became the UCLA coach in 2013. Here, he has seen his most consistent success as a head coach as the Bruins reached the Sweet Sixteen in three of his first four seasons.
24. Jay Wright, Villanova
Salary: $2.56 million
Jay Wright seems awfully low on this list considering Villanova has won two of the last three tournaments and are the reigning champs of college basketball. It's also surprising because Wright isn't a particularly new coach, either; he's been with the Wildcats since 2001, and in addition to those incredible championship runs he has an additional Final Four, Elite Eight and two Sweet Sixteen appearances on his resume.
25. Mike Anderson, Arkansas
Salary: $2.55 million
Mike Anderson has consistently found success anywhere he has gone. In his second season as head coach at University of Alabama, he took the program to its first Sweet Sixteen since 1982. After UAB, he joined Missouri to build the Tigers back up to prominence, and they made the Elite Eight in his third season. This will be his eighth season at Arkansas, bringing the team to three tournaments in his first seven years.
26. Michael White, Florida
Salary: $2.53 million
Michael White got the Florida gig after coaching Louisiana Tech to four of its most successful years, and in just his second year at the helm the Gators made the Elite Eight. Florida is trying to go deeper into the tournament than they did last year after a disappointing second-round exit at the hands of Texas Tech.
27. Bruce Pearl, Auburn
Salary: $2.52 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.