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Highest paid college basketball coaches: Bill Self leads highest-paid NCAAM’s coaches in 2023-’24

Who is the highest paid coach in college basketball? It should come as no surprise that John Calipari and Bill Self are two of the highest-paid men’s basketball coaches in 2023. However, the list of the top-paid men’s coaches includes some intriguing names and fascinating backstories.

One trend you’ll notice among the highest paid college basketball coaches is the lack of championships in recent years. Following the retirements of Jay Wright and Coach K, Self and Tony Bennett are the only two coaches on this list with a national championship since 2013.

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Using a combination of USA Today‘s listed men’s basketball head coach salaries and recent reporting on contracts, here are the highest paid college basketball coaches right now.

Highest paid college basketball coaches 2023-’24

10. Eric Musselman, Arkansas Razorbacks

  • Eric Musselman coaching record: 207-76 all time
  • Eric Musselman buyout: $11.72 million

Arkansas Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman has overcome failures and mistakes to become one of the highest-paid college basketball coaches in 2023. He came up through the coaching ladder in the NBA, eventually becoming the Sacramento Kings head coach. However, a DUI and a .439 winning percentage pushed him out of the league by 2007. College basketball offered him a fresh start. After going 110-34 with Nevada (2015-’19), Musselman has taken over Arkansas and led them to two Elite Eights and a Sweet 16 in the last three seasons.

9. Buzz Williams, Texas A&M Aggies

  • Buzz Williams coaching record: 331-202 (.621) all time
  • Buzz Williams buyout: $13.141 million

Texas A&M Aggies basketball coach Buzz Williams has won just about everywhere he’s gone. He went 139-69 at Marquette, leading the program to five NCAA Tournament appearances in six years. Later at Virginia Tech, he helped the Vokies turn around from 11-22 in his first year to a 20-win program with three tourney appearances in the next four seasons. Now, Williams has the Aggies ascending in the SEC as one of the emerging college basketball programs around the country.

8. Mick Cronin, UCLA Bruins

  • Mick Cronin coaching record: 466-207, 101-36 at UCLA
  • Mick Cronin buyout: $20 million

No one will ever replicate the success John Wooden had with the UCLA Bruins, but Mick Cronin is quickly approaching Ben Howland’s territory (233-107, .685). Since hiring Cronin before the 2019-’20 season, UCLA has won at least 22-plus games in each of its last three seasons and boasts a .737 winning percentage that only trails Wooden and Jim Harrick. Plus, Croning has demonstrated his Bruins can make deep NCAA Tournament runs, including a 2021 Final Four Trip.

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7. Brad Underwood, Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Brad Underwood coaching record: 225-106 all time
  • Brad Underwood buyout: $25.341 million

Brad Underwood hopped around between a few different jobs before settling down at Illinois. There was a lot of work that needed to be done to rebuild the Fighting Illini’s basketball program, resulting in a 26-39 record over his first two years. It’s been great ever. since. Most recently, the Fighting Illini have made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons and Underwood has a 67-30 (.690) mark entering the 2023-’24 season.

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6. Tony Bennett, Virginia Cavaliers

  • Tony Bennett coaching record: 412-158
  • Tony Bennett buyout: $13.29 million

One of the younger men on the list of highest paid men’s basketball coaches, 54-year0ikd Tony Bennett has enjoyed phenomenal success at Virginia. He’s won six ACC regular-season champions and twice won the ACC Tournament, taking the Cavaliers the distance as 2019 national champions. However, Virginia isn’t viewed as one of the best teams in college basketball this year.

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5 highest paid CBB coaches

5. Chris Beard, Ole Miss Rebels

Syndication: The Clarion-Ledger
Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Chris Beard coaching record: 173-73

Chris Beard has one of the best records and winning percentages in college basketball. However, there’s a reason two different programs are paying him a combined salary that makes him one of the highest paid CBB coaches in 2023. After being fired by the Texas Longhorns for family violence, the Ole Miss Rebels swooped in and hired him. While the decision to hire Beard earned a lot of criticism, Ole Miss viewed the move as a necessity to resurrect a basketball program that has had just two NCAA Tournament appearances since 2014. At the very least, Beard should put Ole Miss back in the tourney.

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4. Rick Barnes, Tennessee Volunteers

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee Tech at Tennessee
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rick Barnes buyout: $23.854 million
  • Rick Barnes coaching record: 781-406

After the Bruce Pearl years, the Tennessee Volunteers basketball program went through an ugly stretch under Cuonzo Martin and Donnie Tyndall. It led to Tennessee making a huge investment in Rick Barnes, resulting in him becoming one of the highest paid basketball coaches. Barnes has turned around a team that maxed out at 24 wins under Martin, making it a perennial 20-win program. The Volunteers are making NCAA Tournament runs again and Martin has proven to be worth what Tennessee is paying him, especially in comparison to some of his peers.

3. Tom Izzo, Michigan State Spartans

Syndication: Lansing State Journal
Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Tom Izzo buyout: $7 million
  • Tom Izzo coaching record: 688-281

Tom Izzo is synonymous with the Michigan State Spartans. An Iron Mountain, Michigan native, izzo became an assistant on the Spartans staff in 1983 and served in that role until he took over in 1995. He signed a lifetime contract in 2022, ensuring that he’ll likely finish his head-coaching career where it all began. Under Izzo, Michigan State has earned eight Final Four appearances and won two national championships. However, the Spartans have returned to the NCAA championship since 2009.

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2. John Calipari, Kentucky Wildcats

NCAA Basketball: New Mexico State at Kentucky
Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
  • John Calipari buyout: $41.343 million
  • John Calipari coaching record: 834-253 all time

John Calipari has been the Kentucky Wildcats coach since 2009 and he’s been one of the highest-paid college basketball coaches since his arrival. While he’s been passed by Bill Self on the leaderboard for salaries, Calipari does rank 10th all-time in wins. He’ll pass Rick Pitino this year and likely Bob Huggins next season. However, Kentucky hasn’t reached the Final Four since 2015 and its last Elite Eight appearance came in 2019.

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1. Bill Self, Kansas Jayhawks – Highest paid men’s basketball coach

Syndication: USA TODAY
Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Bill Self buyout: $5.41 million (USA Today)
  • Bill Self coaching record: 789-237 all time

The Kansas Jayhawks made Bill Self the highest-paid college basketball coach ever with a new contract signed in November. Self immediately receives $13 million this season, the highest salary in college basketball this year. The deal also includes the Jayhawks’ coach receiving $53 million over the next five seasons, per ESPN, including a $7.2 million salary previously deferred by the COVID pandemic. Self si currently 13th on the all-time men’s coaching wins list and will become the 13th to win 800-plus career games this year.

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Highest paid men’s college basketball coaches

Here are the highest-paid men’s college basketball coaches in 2023-’24, including how their teams performed last season including in the NCAA Tournament.

Coach, Team2023-’24 salary2022-’23 record
Bill Self, Kansas$10.6 million24-8, NCAA Tournament (2nd Round)
John Calipari, Kentucky$8.53 million22-12, NCAA Tournament (2nd Round)
Tom Izzo, Michigan State$5.74 million21-13, NCAA Tournament (Sweet 16)
Rick Barnes, Tennessee$5.45 million25-11, NCAA Tournament (Sweet 16)
Bruce Pearl, Auburn$5.45 million21-13, NCAA Tournament (2nd Round)
Chris Beard, Ole Miss$5 millionN/A (fired
Tony Bennett, Virginia$4.83 million25-8, NCAA Tournament (1st Round)
Brad Underwood, Illinois$4.6 million20-13, NCAA Tournament (1st Round)
Mick Cronin, UCLA$4.1 million31-6, NCAA Tournament (Sweet 16)
Eric Musselman, Arkansas$4.1 million22-14, NCAA Tournament (Sweet 16)
Buzz Williams, Texas A&M$4.1 million25-10, NCAA Tournament (1st Round)

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