Report: Nick Saban, Kirby Smart Among NCAA Coaches With Lucrative Side Deals

A fascinating look into the side gigs of numerous coaches

Kirby Smart
Kirby Smart in a 2019 Ford commercial.
Ford Motor Company

For years, there’s been a heated debate over whether or not college athletes should be paid. That’s not the only thing about college sports that’s led to controversy, though — there’s also the fact that most states’ highest-paid public employees are frequently college coaches. But even then, some prominent football and basketball coaches are making even more money than that via speeches, commercials and endorsements.

An expansive new report by Daniel Libit at Sportico looks into the additional sources of income for many Division I college coaches. In some cases, the aforementioned revenue sources aren’t surprising. “In terms of frequency, most of the outside earning, the disclosure forms show, came from running or participating in sports camps and clinics,” Libit writes. “Those who made the most in outside camp income were not necessarily practitioners in the ‘revenue’ sports of football and men’s basketball.”

When it comes to those 2 sports, however, the names are higher-profile and the amounts of money made are much larger. The University of Alabama’s Nick Saban made $350,000 for speaking engagements in 2018 and 2019. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh was paid $250,000 to appear in a Downy Wrinkle Guard ad. And the University of Georgia’s Kirby Smart made $150,000 for this Ford F150 commercial.

As Libit notes, different colleges and universities regulate their coaches’ side gigs differently, and there isn’t a uniform policy regulating it — other than the NCAA’s requirement that coaches report it to begin with. The whole article is well worth a read, and provides a window into another facet of the industry surrounding collegiate sports.

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