here) into the salaries of coaches at FBS universities (the highest level of college football program schools) based on updated data from the Knight Commission.
The graph above shows how much three different schools spend on coaches: Ohio State, which tops the table, spends over $26 million. At the bottom of the 106-school table is the University of Louisiana-Monroe at $2.6 million, about 10% of that spent by OSU. Somewhere in the middle (#43) in my employer, the University of Colorado-Boulder at $12.6 million, just about half of OSU.
Let's compare these expenditures to total university budgets.
source), which is larger that Colorado-Boulder at $1.3 billion (source) and absolutely dwarfs ULM at $75 million (source).
When we look at coaches salaries as a percentage of total campus budgets things get considerably more interesting.
What can we say about the total spending on coaches salaries across all 106 FBS schools?
A full accounting would require going into the budgets of each of the 106 schools, but we can do a quick back of the envelope calculation. The midpoint between OSU and ULM for total campus budgets is about $2.8 billion. Across 106 schools that suggests almost $300 billion in budgets. If you want a conservative lower bound we can cut that in half and use $150 billion.
The Knight Commission database tells us that the 106 schools collectively spend about $1.2 billion on coaches salaries - about the size of the total campus budget for the University of Colorado-Boulder.
So the total expenditure on coaches salaries across the 106 FBS schools, as a proportion of total university budgets, is $1.2 billion divided by $150 billion at the low end and $300 billion at the upper end. This is about 0.8% to 1.6% of total university spending or about 1% in a round number. Overall athletics spending across these programs is more like 5% of the total budgets.
Is 1% of university spending on coaches a lot? A little? Top line numbers like those at Ohio State capture most of the discussion, but the impact on the university may be far greater in places like Louisiana-Monroe.
This data does not answer questions at the heart of debates over college sports, but they should inform that discussion.