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Women's Hoops: Who Are The Best Paid Coaches In The Big Ten?

A breakdown of the various contracts of the Big Ten women's basketball coaches.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, Michigan Wolverine's coach Kim Barnes Arico agreed to a three-year contract extension worth about $360,000 a year, which got me wondering: Is that good? How much are other coaches paid?

For part one of this two-part series, I'll be looking at the women's coaches and the second part will look at the men's coaches. The information isn't available in one convenient place (and may not be all that reliable where it is available, which I'll get to in a moment) so I put everything together in a table, along with some other information that seemed relevant, like how many seasons they've been with the team, what's their record, and how many NCAA Tournament games they've coached. You'll see the table after a bit of fine print.

The Fine Print

The "Guaranteed Salary" column is probably a little wonky, and should be taken with a grain of salt. Contracts are private, and I'm using the figures that the universities have released. For some universities, this includes things like a marketing salary to do commercials and other promos, and for some universities, marketing salary is considered a separate source of income. That doesn't even begin to include the performance bonuses, because again, it's not publicly available.

Northwestern keeps their salaries secret, although I've included coach Joe McKeown so you can compare his record and tournament appearances.

"NCAA Tournament Games Coached" is exactly what it says, and doesn't take into account whether the team won or lost.

"Average NCAA Games Per Season" is also simple: Take the number of NCAA Tournament Games Coached, and divide by number of seasons. It's an interesting little statistic that I've made up for this exercise, but beware of small sample sizes: C. Vivian Stringer and Kevin McGuff are both averaging about two NCAA tournament games per season, but Stringer has been coaching for twenty years, and McGuff only two. The more seasons a coach has been with the team, the more this stat says about the coach.

Finally, the table doesn't include Big Ten Tournament wins, which makes it easier to compare the newer schools to the older schools. This omission especially hurts a coach like Coquese Washington, who has won three Big Ten tournaments, but looks unremarkable by NCAA Tournament Games Coached alone.

So Who's Number One?

School Coach Seasons With Team Guaranteed Salary Record NCAA Tournament Games Coached Avg. NCAA Games Per Season National Titles
Ohio State Kevin McGuff 2 $850,000 41 - 29 (.612) 2 2.0 0
Rutgers C. Vivian Stringer 20 $700,000 432 - 216 (.665) 41 2.1 0
Penn State Coquese Washington 8 $700,000 146 - 104 (.584) 10 1.3 0
Nebraska Connie Yori 13 $673,200 96 - 36 (.727) 22 1.7 0
Purdue Sharon Versyp 9 $547,025

195 - 108 (.644)

18 2.0 0
Iowa Lisa Bluder 15 $445,000

304 - 174 (.636)

18 1.2 0
Minnesota Marlene Stollings 1 $425,000

23 - 10 (.697)

1 1.0 0
Maryland Brenda Frese 13

$382,880

340 - 104 (.766)

34 2.6 1
Michigan Kim Barnes Arico 3 $360,000

340 - 104 (.766)

2 0.67 0
Michigan State Suzy Merchant 8 $340,089

179 - 87 (.673)

13 1.6 0
Illinois Matt Bollant 3

$330,000

43 - 51 (.457)

0 0 0
Wisconsin Bobbie Kelsey 4

$300,000

40 - 78 (.339)

0 0 0
Indiana Teri Moren 1

$300,000

15 - 16 (.484)

0 0 0
Northwestern Joe McKeown 7 Unknown

111 - 110 (.502)

1 0.14 0

Thoughts:

The women's coaches are getting significantly less than the men's coaches, but Men's and Women's college basketball are also two very different leagues, and you can't do a straight apples-to-apples comparison. In the same way that a coach in England's Premier League is going to get more money than a coach in MLS, because millions more fans watch the Premier League, the smaller revenues of the women's games are going to mean smaller salaries.

Having said that, Maryland Terrapin's coach Brenda Frese is almost certainly underpaid. The best coach in the Big Ten by NCAA Tournament Games per season, she seems to make between $800,000 and $900,00 per year after bonuses, according to this 2011 article in the Baltimore Sun. If Maryland has a good year, she'll be in the top three or four coaches in the conference, although it doesn't look likely that she'd be number one; and if Maryland has some bad luck with injuries or otherwise has a poor season, then Brenda Frese's pay won't be in the top half of coaches.

Michigan State Spartans' coach Suzy Merchant also looks like a bargain for the university, and I haven't found any evidence online that she's getting those big bonus checks.

C. Vivian Stringer had been making about $900,000 a year, but took a smaller guaranteed salary in order to unlock bigger bonuses when the team does really well. She's a good bet to be the highest paid coach in the conference in any given year.

Wisconsin Badgers' coach Bobbie Kelsey, of course, would be overpaid at any salary.

Only three women's coaches in the Big Ten haven't managed a .500 winning percentage, even with a cupcake out-of-conference schedule: Bobbie Kelsey (four seasons), Illinois' Matt Bollant (three seasons) and Indiana's Teri Moren (one season.) The jury is still out on Moren after Indiana's wild year, but with Kelsey's abysmal record, and the lawsuit against Matt Bollant, you have to wonder if their current contract will be their last with the team.

Amongst all the noise and the "once the bonus check clears, who knows?" you should have a rough idea of compensation in the Big Ten coaches. Look for Part Two, a breakdown of the men's coaches, in the next few days.