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12 Coaches with a Lot of Money at Stake in the 2012 NCAA Tournament

by: Esteban On  Friday, March 22, 2013

ncaa tournament coach bonuses 2013

Tens of millions of people around the world are financially invested in the outcomes of NCAA Tournament games. The schools stand to reap major financial windfalls via surging TV revenue, merchandise sales, and ticket sales if their teams do well. Individual players could see their NBA draft stock skyrocket with a couple of clutch performances, which could get them additional millions. (Right, Gordon Hayward?) And of course, fans around the world have placed bets or paid into pools (both legal and illegal) and are watching the sports ticker with baited breath.

However, nobody has as much riding on the outcomes of these NCAA Tournament games as the coaches—at least not in such a legal, black and white way. That’s because most college basketball coaches have contracts that award bonuses for making it to the Big Dance, as well as bonuses for advancing into the later rounds. So when you see coaches upset about a loss or ecstatic about a win, that’s not just a matter of pride. It’s also because they know they just subtracted or added $25,000 to their salary.

So what coaches have the most at stake in this year’s tournament? Well, that’s a good question. And this list is the answer. Have a look.


All figures courtesy of Forbes.


12. Thad Matta

12 thad matta (ohio state basketball coach) - ncaa tournament coach bonuses

Team: Ohio State Buckeyes

Potential Bonus Money: $180,000

Buckeyes coach Thad Matta had a pretty good year that earned his team the No. 2 seed in the West. Just for getting to the Tourney, Matta earned himself a $40,000 bonus, which is the second-biggest Round of 64 bonus of any coach on this list. Interestingly, though, Matta won’t make any more money by reaching the Round of 32 or the Sweet 16. Then he’ll make $20,000 for making the Elite Eight, another $20,000 for reaching the Final Four, $0 for making the Title Game, and $100,000 for winning it all.

That seems like a strange set of incentives to me, but what do I know.


11. Tom Izzo


Team: Michigan State Spartans

Potential Bonus Money: $300,000

Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches in college basketball. Some would say he is the best (though all of those people probably live in Michigan). However, he has the same basic bonus structure as Matta of OSU, just with different amounts. Izzo got $25,000 for making the Big Dance, but he’ll get nothing for making rounds two or three. Then, if MSU makes the Elite Eight Izzo gets $25,000, and if they make the Final Four he gets $100,000—but nothing for making the Title Game. If the Spartans win the Title Game, however, Izzo will collect a check for $15o,000.


10. Dave Rice

10 dave rice (unlv basketball coach) - ncaa tournament coach bonuses

Team: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

Potential Bonus Money: $325,000

Rebels coach Dave Rice is one of just two coaches scheduled to receive a bonus for every stage of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. For making the tourney he got $25,000, and he would have earned an additional $50,000 for every UNLV victory.

Of course, the Rebels were upset yesterday by the Cal Golden Bears. So who knows, this photo might be from the exact moment when somebody pointed out that the loss cost him up to $300,000.


9. John Bellein

9 john bellein (michigan basketball coach) - ncaa tournament coach bonuses

Team: Michigan Wolverines

Potential Bonus Money: $325,000

John Bellein of Michigan has an every-other-round bonus structure. He gets $25K for making the tournament; $0 for making the second round; $50K for making the Sweet 16; $0 for making the Elite Eight; $100K for making the Final Four; $0 for making the Championship Game; and $150,000 for bringing home a National Championship.

Seems pretty reasonable to me.


8. Rick Pitino

8 rick pitino (louisville basketball coach) - ncaa tournament coach bonuses

Team: Louisville Cardinals

Potential Bonus Money: $325,000

Louisville didn’t hire the esteemed Rick Pitino just to make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They hired him to win it all. His bonuses are structured accordingly. Pitino gets nothing for making the Round of 64 and nothing for making the Round of 32. However, he gets $50K for making the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight; $75K for making the Final Four; and $150K for winning it all.

Of course, once again, you’ll notice the guy is not rewarded for making the title game. In fact, only three coaches on this list are. This could mean one of two things: either (1) there is no added economic value for schools in losing the Title Game over and above simply making the Final Four, or (2) they all think that giving a bonus just for making the Title Game will make coaches less hungry to win a championship.


7. Bill Self

7 bill self (kansas basketball coach) - ncaa tournament coach bonuses

Team: Kansas Jayhawks

Potential Bonus Money: $350,000

Like Rick Pitino, Bill Self is not employed to do “pretty good.” He coaches the Kansas Jayhawks, and is thus expected to contend for a championship every year. Consequently, Self doesn’t make an extra dime unless his team reaches the Final Four. If they do that, he gets a $150,000 bonus. Then he stands to make nothing for reaching the Championship Game, but $200,000 if they win it all.


6. Shaka Smart

6 shaka smart (vcu basketball coach) - ncaa tournament coach bonuses

Team: Virginia Commonwealth University Rams

Potential Bonus Money: $356,000

For two years now, Shaka Smart has been the golden boy of college basketball coaches. When he led the Rams to the Final Four in 2011, he was one of the youngest coaches in the NCAA at just 33 years old. After that season, he got a bit of a raise—from $350,000 annually to $1.2 million annually—and he’s maintained VCU’s competitiveness.

This year, Smart is the only other coach who stands to make bonus money for every stage of the NCAA Tournament. (The other was UNLV’s Dave Rice.) He gets $56,250,000 for making the Tournament; $37,500 for making the second round, Sweet 16, and Elite Eight; $56,250 for making the Final Four and Championship Game; and $75,000 for winning it all.


5. Steve Alford


Team: New Mexico Lobos

Potential Bonus Money: $470,000

You want to know why #3 New Mexico lost to #14 Harvard and messed everyone’s bracket up? Because while coach Steve Alford made $20,000 for getting to the Big Dance, he stood to make nothing by advancing to the second round. So the motivation just wasn’t there.

Okay, that’s probably not true. The guy would have made $100K if he had won games in the second and third round, plus another $100K for making the Final Four and a cool quarter of a million bucks for winning a National Championship.

That’s a lot of bread left out on the table.


4. Mark Gottfried

4 mark gottfried (nc state basketball coach) - ncaa tournament coach bonuses

Team: NC State Wolfpack

Potential Bonus Money: $500,000

Matt Gottfried makes nothing for getting the Wolfpack to the Big Dance and he makes nothing for getting them to the second round. However, after the second round, the paydays get pretty sweet. If #8 NC State should the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four, Gottfried gets $62,500 a pop. If they make the Title Game, Gottfried gets $125,000. Then, if they somehow win it all as a #8 seed (which only Villanova has ever done), Gottfried would get a nice bonus of $187,500.


3. Tom Crean

3 tom crean (indiana basketball coach) - ncaa tournament coach bonuses

Team: Indiana Hoosiers

Potential Bonus Money: $510,000

Expectations are high in Indiana this year, and so is the potential for coach Tom Creen to earn a lot of extra dough. The guy got $25K just for making the Tournament. Then he’ll get $25K for making Round 2; $35K for making the Sweet 16; $50K for making the Elite Eight; $125K for making the Final Four; Jack squat for getting to the Championship Game; and a quarter million for winning a National Championship.

Judging by a lot of people’s brackets, it would seem that Creen stands to make a lot of money over the next few weeks.


2. Sean Miller

2 sean miller (arizona basketball coach) - ncaa tournament coach bonuses

Team: Arizona Wildcats

Potential Bonus Money: $975,000

Who was the happiest man in the country after Harvard upset New Mexico in the Round of 64? Arizona coach Sean Miller. This guy only gets big money if his sixth-seeded team advances all the way to the Final Four, and when the Crimson knocked of the Lobos, actually doing that got a lot easier.

How much does Miller make if Arizona becomes the cinderella of the 2013 Tournament? Well, if they reach the Final Four he gets $300K. Then, if they win it all, he gets another $675K.

So, yeah, with our last two coaches the potential bonuses are really getting up into the stratosphere.


1. Tubby Smith


Team: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Potential Bonus Money: $2.75 Million

Tubby Smith has an absolutely ridiculous set of bonuses awaiting him should his Gophers make a deep run in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Although the guy gets nothing just for making the draw, he’ll earn a $150K bonus if the #11 Gophers beat #6 UCLA tonight in Austin. Then he’ll get another $200K if his team can somehow make it past #3 Florida in Round 2. After that, if Minnesota makes the Elight Eight, Tubby gets $300K; if they make the Final Four Tubby gets $600K; and if they actually win the National Championship, Tubby gets a cool $1.5 million.

The crazy thing here? Making the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight might be doable for Tubby and the Gophers (which is also the name of the band I will be starting this weekend). They’d have to knock off UCLA, Florida, and perhaps Georgetown to get there, but this was a team that was battled-hardened by the brutal Big Ten this year. So stay tuned. Tubby might be buying himself a new boat in a few weeks.