When you think about high-ranking public employees in your state, positions like governor, school district superintendent, or university president might spring to mind. But in almost every state, those jobs don't pay nearly as well as being the head coach of a football or basketball team at a major public university. In 2018, ESPN compared the salaries of each state's highest-paid public employee and found that in 39 of the 50 states, men’s football and basketball coaches topped the list. There wasn't a single governor who was the highest-paid public employee in his or her state.
Making the big bucks:
- Of the 11 non-coaches on the list, eight worked in education, two were physicians, and one was the president of Alaska's state-run natural gas development corporation. Only one woman -- medical school dean Mary D. Nettleman -- made the list.
- Eight basketball coaches and 31 football coaches made the big bucks list. The salaries of the highest-paid public employee in each state ranged from $246,000 to $11.1 million USD.
- University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban topped the 2018 list with an annual salary of $11.1 million, followed by Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (football) and Kentucky’s John Calipari (basketball).