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February 20, 2004

Compensation Upgrade For Saban

FROM THE BAYOU comes word that Coach-of-the-Year Nick Saban will become college football’s highest-paid coach. The numbers are impressive by anyone’s standards (this side of Donald Trump that is). The seven year contract for the LSU coach totals $18.45 million—incentives could push that figure higher.

Saban’s annual compensation will increase steadily from $2.3 million this year to $3 million in 2010. His previous compensation was $1.6 million.

When the Tigers won the national championship a clause was triggered in his contract to make him the highest paid college football. What a terrific example of payment for performance. Truly meritocracy at its finest.

Skip Bertman, LSU's AD, said Saban was deserving of the huge salary because he is great on and off the field, and he has great academics.

“We have the best guy, so he gets the most money," Bertman said. "Not only do we have the best guy in America, but we make money because he's here. We're gonna make well over a million dollars in T-shirt sales because he was a winner. We're gonna make money because he fills the stadium with 92,000 people.”

Bertman pointed out that Saban’s entire compensation package is funded privately by the athletic department and the Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF).

Saban's 2004 salary break down: $400,000 in base salary, $1,450,000 from university radio and TV programs, $300,000 from the TAF and $150,000 from LSU’s shoe and equipment provider.

Saban’s bumped-up package, attractive though it may seem, is actually rather modest when compared to the compensation of professional athletes. Baseball’s Alex Rodriguez, the newest Yankee, who has been bandied about from one headline to the next, has a record-busting $252 million, 10 year contract. That makes his compensation about ten times that of Saban’s. But the reigning champ of compensation—Formula One Ferrari race car driver Michael Schumacher—is estimated to be good for $80 to $100 million for just one year.

Of course, comparing Saban’s compensation to that of his own players reveals a Grand Canyon-like contrast.

(this excerpt was extracted from the New Orleans Times-Picayune of 2-20-04, with added commentary from College Athletics Clips)