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How Much Do The Coaches In The Final Four Make?

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The men’s Final Four is set. In one region, UConn will take on Alabama; in the other, Purdue will tip off against NC State. There’s plenty at stake for each team. UConn is looking to become the first program to repeat since Florida did it in 2006 and 2007. NC State last won a title in 1983, when Jimmy Valvano memorably ran around the court looking for someone to hug during the postgame celebration. Meanwhile, Purdue and Alabama are looking for their first NCAA Championships in school history.

(As a bonus, on the women’s side, NC State and UConn also both reached the Final Four. It’s been a great year for those schools!)

With the teams facing off on Saturday before deciding this year’s champion on Monday night, let’s take a look at the head coaches for each school. Who’s making the most money?

UConn head coach Dan Hurley. (Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Dan Hurley, UConn: $5 million

Just a couple of months after leading the Huskies to the national championship last year, Hurley signed a six-year contract extension to remain with Connecticut. The deal is worth $32.1 million over six seasons, making Hurley the seventh highest-paid coach in the NCAA ranks and the highest-paid coach in the state’s history. He’s also the only Big East coach to be in the top 25 earners.

This season, Hurley has a $4.5 million base salary and a $500,000 retention bonus, putting him at an even $5 million for the year. He’ll continue to see his salary increase, averaging $5.35 million throughout the deal and finishing with a $5.8 million salary by the time the contract is up after the 2029-30 season.

How many more championships can UConn win before the contract expires? Hurley has improved the team each season since his arrival in 2018. Despite first-round tournament exits in 2021 and 2022, the Huskies rebounded and won it all in 2023. Hurley lost key players to graduation and the NBA Draft, yet he still replenished the roster, and UConn looks even more unbeatable this year. They’re two victories away from another championship.

Prior to Connecticut, Hurley spent six years as the head coach of Rhode Island and two seasons with Wagner. He finished with winning records at both stops, including two second-round appearances with the Rams in 2017 and 2018. He’s won 64% of his games, with an overall coaching record of 290-163.

Nate Oats, Alabama: $4.53 million

Nate Oats joined Alabama before the 2019-20 season, and after a successful start, he inked a three-year extension in 2027. That raised his annual compensation to $3.225 million; he’s continued to see his earnings increase. He signed another contract extension in February 2023 that paid him $4.5 million annually through 2029. This year, he’s the tenth highest-paid coach, but a third contract extension in March 2024 will put him in the top five coaches in the country. Those terms are still being hashed out, though based on current salaries, he’d be making north of $5.7 million per year.

Oats has reached the NCAA Tournament in seven out of his nine coaching seasons. Since Oats joined the Crimson Tide, the program has made the Sweet 16 three times, including this year’s Final Four appearance. Last year, Alabama was the No. 1 overall seed before falling to eventual runner-up San Diego State — a team that, coincidentally, lost to UConn both this year and last year. Can the Crimson Tide reverse the trend?

Before Alabama, Oats spent four years with Buffalo. The Bulls made it to the second round in consecutive seasons, and in his final year, Oats led the team to a 32-4 record and a MAC championship. He’s 214-96 overall, a .690 winning percentage.

Matt Painter, Purdue: $3.68 million

Matt Painter played at Purdue from 1989 to 1993 and has been a coach at his alma mater for two decades. He took over the head coaching gig in 2005 and quickly turned the school into a regular powerhouse. Beginning in 2007-08, Purdue has finished third or better in the Big Ten in 12 out of 17 seasons. That includes five first-place finishes (or tied for first place) and 15 NCAA Tournament appearances.

Yet the knock on Painter was that he could never win the big games come tournament time. It’s a silly belief when there’s so much variance in a single-elimination tournament, but before this year, Purdue’s last three tournaments were losing in the first round as a No. 4 seed, losing in the Sweet 16 to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s, and losing in the first round to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, just the second time a No. 1 seed has ever lost to a 16-seed. It’s fair to say Purdue fans were worried headed into this year, but the Boilermakers have looked dominant throughout the regular season and into the postseason. Now, they’re looking to finish their historical run with a title.

Despite his longevity at the school, Painter isn’t paid nearly as much as the highest earners in the game. He’s still 24th among coaches this season, however, and his annual salary has tripled since 2011. If he delivers a championship, you can bet another raise is in order.

Prior to returning to Purdue, Painter spent one season as Northern Illinois’s head coach. He led the Huskies to a 25-5 record, a MAC title, and an NCAA tournament appearance. Over his career, he’s compiled a 471-207 record (.695 winning percentage).

Kevin Keatts, NC State: $2.9 million

Kevin Keatts may be the lowest-paid coach on this list, but he had a very lucrative March. Thanks to the Wolfpack’s run through the ACC Tournament and subsequent trek to the Final Four, Keatts made an extra $300,000 in performance bonuses and earned himself two extra years on his contract (which now runs through 2030) and a $500,000 pay raise beginning with next season. He’s also regularly had 2% to 4% pay increases annually, so he’ll quickly shoot up the ranks of the highest-paid coaches.

It’s a huge turnaround for someone who seemed destined for the hot seat as ACC Tournament play began. Keatts led the Wolfpack to NCAA Tournament appearances in 2018 and 2023, but this year looked like it was going to be a dud. The Wolfpack were 17-14 and had lost their final four games of the regular season. Now, they’re back in the Final Four for the first time in 41 years and could be playing for a national title.

Before signing with NC State in 2017, Keatts coached the UNC Wilmington Seahawks for three seasons. He went 72-28 during those seasons, finishing first in the CAA and reaching two consecutive NCAA Tournaments. For his career, Keatts is 211-121, good for a .636 winning percentage.

Regardless of what happens in the final few games, the strong play of these Final Four teams will benefit their coaches and universities in the coming years — and add extra money to their pockets.





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