College coaches make more than players get in scholarships

Jim Harbaugh University of Michigan
University of Michigan guaranteed coach Jim Harbaugh at least $38 million over seven years.

The college national championship game is Monday night, but no matter which game you're watching, the winner is clear: The coaches.

College coaches at schools with big sports programs -- particularly the big-money football and basketball programs -- are the highest paid employees on campus by far.

The head coaches in the five major college athletic conferences earn more than their schools spend on all athletic scholarships combined, according to a CNNMoney analysis of data from the Department of Education.

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The 535 coaches for men's sports collected a total of $440 million in salary, an average of $823,000 per full-time position during the 2014-2015 school year. That includes the football and basketball coaches, who generally earn millions of dollars, as well as more modestly paid lacrosse, swimming or wrestling coaches.

Meanwhile, those same 65 schools paid out a total of $426 million in student aid to roughly 20,000 of male athletes on their teams - or an average of just over $20,000 per athlete.

The University of Michigan is a prime example of this phenomenon. Last January the school signed a deal with ex-NFL coach Jim Harbaugh, who took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl three years ago. His contract guarantees him $5 million this season and a total of at least $40 million over seven years.

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Of course a nine-digit payday is far more than Michigan or any other school can award its 85 football players through scholarships.

Advocates pushing for the rights of college athlete rights say this is fundamentally unfair.

"This goes to show what happens if you artificially suppress compensation to one group of people, such as the college athletes, it's going to go somewhere. In this case it's going to coaches," said Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, which is trying to create the first union for college athletes.

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