Coach: NCAA football corruption tied to coaches' salaries

by | Senior Writer

HOOVER, Ala. -- In the past several months there have been numerous examples of corruption throughout college football.

Head coaches, assistant coaches, student-athletes, student-athletes' relatives, third-party handlers, recruits, agents and boosters have all been involved in some aspect.

And one individual has a strong opinion why there seems to be a recent rash of NCAA rules that are being broken: it's because of the exorbitant amount of money college football coaches are paid, especially those in the Southeastern Conference.

Surprisingly, the individual who believes the coaches are the root of the evil also just happens to be a head coach -- Bronco Mendenhall of Brigham Young.

Mendenhall said the current corruption in college football "absolutely" can be attributed to the huge amount of money made by coaches, especially the SEC, where 10 of 12 earn more than $2 million a year.

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"Absolutely," Mendenhall said. "It kind of takes the amateur part out of sports when someone is making [$5] million to coach, doesn't it?

"With the economy the way it is, I mean, it doesn't make much sense to me."

In the past 25 years, the SEC schools have committed more major violations in college football than any conference. With LSU being put on one-year probation Tuesday, Vanderbilt is the only SEC football program without a major violation since 1987. The Commodores have never had a major infraction in football during the program's history.

Besides committing more major violations than any other conference, the SEC also has been the most successful -- winning the past five BCS titles -- with the nation's highest paid coaches. Of the nation's top 20 highest paid coaches, 10 are at SEC schools, according to USA Today and other media reports of coaching salaries. Alabama's Nick Saban ranks No. 1 overall at nearly $5.2 million a year, while LSU's Les Miles earns $3.75 million annually. Gene Chizik's new contract at Auburn guarantees him $3.5 million a year.

Seven other SEC coaches -- Georgia's Mark Richt, Arkansas' Bobby Petrino, Florida's Will Muschamp, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, Ole Miss' Houston Nutt and Tennessee's Derek Dooley -- are each earning more than $2 million a year.

The SEC's annual media days begin Wednesday in Hoover, Ala.

Nick Saban's $5.2 million salary makes him the highest-paid coach in college football. (Getty Images)  
Nick Saban's $5.2 million salary makes him the highest-paid coach in college football. (Getty Images)  
Mendenhall offered his opinion on coaching salaries when he was initially asked whether student-athletes should be compensated financially in addition to receiving a scholarship.

Last month, Spurrier made a proposal that SEC coaches pay their players $300 a game. In all, seven of the 12 SEC coaches signed Spurrier's proposal, although it is highly unlikely it would ever get NCAA approval.

"A scholarship is enough," Mendenhall told "In fact I prefer walk-on players compared to scholarship players because they're actually contributing their own resources for the value of participating in sport and getting their education.

"It's amateur athletics, it's not professional, and I'm not for paying [the student-athletes]. And if coaches would be more realistic in what they're expecting in their salaries that would be a great start to helping the game."

Beginning his seventh year as BYU's coach, Mendenhall's salary has never been released by the school. Because it's a private institution, BYU is not required to provide contract information, although it announced Mendenhall received a three-year extension through 2013.

Mendenhall said he is prohibited from providing his salary information because of a confidentiality clause in his contract.

The Cougars begin their first season as an independent this fall. Mendenhall believes there will be a split of the 120 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools at some point.

"I think it could happen," Mendenhall said. "I would see more of a division within the existing Division I teams then breaking away from the NCAA."

Mendenhall believes the gap between the automatic-qualifying BCS conference schools (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12 and Notre Dame) and the remaining FBS schools is getting bigger.

"That's the whole argument for the BCS -- include and exclude," Mendenhall said. "There's a division [among the AQ BCS and non-AQ BCS schools] and I don't see it growing closer. I see it separating even more."

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said he doesn't believe the Cougars are currently worthy of a BCS spot. But Holmoe and Mendenhall hope that will change in the future.

"Our intention is to play them all [BCS teams] and beat them," Mendenhall said. "And show them. That's the whole thing, you have to win. No pressure, right? You're only included when you win."

Mendenhall will get a chance in the season opener against one of those SEC multi-millionaire coaches when the Cougars visit Ole Miss on Sept. 3.


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