This map of the United States highlights each state’s highest earning employees. The big winner? Football coaches.

The breakdown counts 27 football coaches, 13 basketball coaches, and one hockey coach. The leftover ten include five college presidents, a medical school chancellor, a medical school department chair, a medical school plastic surgeon, and a law school dean.

The majority of these are in what’s referred to as the "$1 million club," thanks to “additional compensation” and bonuses that inflate coach salaries.

Payroll isn’t made up of taxpayers’ dollars, but Reuben Fisher-Baum, the Deadspin reporter who created the map, explains that there are still a few problems with the trend.

Namely, the revenue earned by winning teams doesn’t go back into the educational institution they represent.

And, as Fisher-Baum puts it, "You don’t have to pay someone $5 million to make college football profitable in Texas.”

Infographic: Who's The Highest-Paid Public Employee In Your State?

Spoiler alert: It’s probably the football coach.

In May, a reporter at Deadspin released a carefully compiled map of the United States’ highest-paid public workers. After Reuben Fisher-Baum culled through state salary databases and various media reports, he tallied the findings.

The list of highest-paid active employees counts 27 football coaches, 13 basketball coaches, and 1 hockey coach. The leftover ten include five college presidents, a medical school chancellor, a medical school department chair, a medical school plastic surgeon, and a law school dean. (The math gets you to 51 positions because Minnesota’s football and basketball coach are each earning $1.2 million.)

The map imparts at least two inescapable, jarring insights. One: These upper echelon salaries beat out those for all public employees, including state governors. Two: That’s a lot of yellow.

The bottom line is that coaches and athletic directors make healthy salaries. Their extravagant salaries, due to “additional compensation” and bonuses, eclipse what a lot of people make annually. Along with the map, Fisher-Baum explains that, no, payroll for coaches is not coming out of taxpayers’ pockets, but that, yes, these figures are still cause for concern. Why?

The salaries are unnecessarily inflated:

It can be tough to attribute this revenue directly to the performance of the head coach. In 2011-2012, Mack Brown was paid $5 million to lead a mediocre 8-5 Texas team to the Holiday Bowl. The team still generated $103.8 million in revenue, the most in college football. You don’t have to pay someone $5 million to make college football profitable in Texas.

Also, the revenue that athletic teams generate does not ultimately benefit the educational institution they represent:

All this football/basketball revenue is sucked up by coach and AD salaries, by administrative and facility costs, and by the athletic department’s non-revenue generating sports; it’s not like it’s going to microscopes and Bunsen burners.

This may or may not reflect our nation’s priorities. As evidenced by the original article’s comments section, there’s much room for debate about what the hard facts signify. But visualizing this trend makes it quite clear that football is central to what we care about--or at least to what middle America values. In some ways, the color pattern of the map also parallels a red and blue electoral map. If nothing else, we can all get a kick out of Nevada, our nation’s only state to give a plastic surgeon the top prize.

Read more over at Deadspin.

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  • Anthony Cooper

    Whats not mentioned here, is the amount of money that schools actually do put back into the education program. But that can be debated.  

    The astounding thing with this article is that it's criticizing football programs for how THEY spend the money THEY make. Like, really? Does that make any sense? Accept what little the athletic programs give to the education departments, because they do give, and be grateful they give anything at all. 
    Bottom line, football isn't taking a dime from education.  

  • Bradford

    Well, at least here in N.H., it's a college president...BTW, the Director of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH, makes a BASE salary of $1.3MILLION...wonder why health care costs are so HIGH...???... And there are literally THOUSANDS of RETIRED State employees, making over $100,000. in RETIREMENT...wonder why taxes are so HIGH...???...

  • Christopher

    I think it's rather telling, coming from a Midwest state and now living in a red southern state.
    I would rather see college presidents and plastic surgeons being paid is not a way of life, unless all those pro-NFL players with permanent brain damage and other quality-of-life injuries tell you otherwise.

  • MisterJacobs


    Why is this important?

    There is not "...much room to debate what the hard facts signify." People like football. It makes schools a lot of money.

    I think this is another blatant attempt to beat another drum to divide our great nation. GIVE IT A REST PEOPLE!

  • ttownsend

    Totally agree.  All those people who don't have liberal arts degrees, wear Tom's and live in studio apartments at the heart of a bustling metropolis are such Neanderthals.  Their sole interests are football and cheese whiz.  If only there was a way for all of us enlightened urban dwellers to slough off their dead weight, this country would be a utopia.  

    Folks, I live in a small condo in middle of Seattle and can't stand cheese whiz but am entirely fed up with the constant assault on any portion of society that doesn't share the same interests as those in the media.  What happened to the melting pot?  Please, lose the attitude and drop the incessant references to "the red states", "middle america", etc, etc.  

  • bleitten

    Would have been much more interesting if they added a rollover with the name, position and amount for each state.