The life of a college basketball coach can be cruel. Longevity at a program is contingent on regular-season success and meeting postseason expectations. Most notably, showing in March Madness can play a major role in a coach’s career. Power conference programs and their tradition-rich fanbases want to win — and more often than not, win in a hurry.
External pressure aside, money does the talking most of the time when it comes to measuring underachievement in the coaching ranks.
Here’s a look at five men’s college basketball coaches, based on USA TODAY Sports’ updated salary database, who aren’t living up to their massive deals.
Fred Hoiberg, Nebraska
The 49-year-old was viewed as a strong Huskers hire, after his NBA coaching stint with the Chicago Bulls didn’t pan out, mainly based off his success with Iowa State from 2010 to 2015. So far in Lincoln, Hoiberg hasn’ t been meeting his $3,500,000 compensation ($18,500,000 buyout) — and athletics director Trev Alberts announced Feb. 24 that Hoiberg “has agreed to restructure his contract.” As of March 10, the university had not released any new terms. Nebraska finished in 14th place in the Big Ten his first two seasons, then 13th this past season. In three seasons, he’s accumulated just 24 wins and his record in the Big Ten is 9-50 (.153).
Jamie Dixon, TCU
For what Dixon is paid, TCU should be expecting Big 12 title contention. He is making more than reigning national champion Baylor coach Scott Drew and is only behind Kansas’ Bill Self and Texas’ Chris Beard for compensation among Big 12 head coaches. Despite decent credentials from his time at Pittsburgh and an NIT championship in his first season in Fort Worth, Dixon is not living up to the $4,347,975 in total pay he received in the 2019 calendar year, including benefits and bonuses, according to the school’s most recent federal tax returns.
Rick Barnes, Tennessee
Barnes has been delivering results in seven seasons leading the Volunteers, guiding the program to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a Sweet 16 in 2019. But Barnes’ teams have been underachieving in March for the most part, and the 67-year-old veteran coach receives an enormous paycheck worthy of a Final Four-caliber coach (where Barnes guided Texas in 2003).
He’s hauling in $5,200,000 and has a $23,137,500 payout. He also has the most lucrative bonus package for a public-school coach at a possible $3 million. What’s more: He’s scheduled to see increases in future years ($250,000 after the 2022 and ’23 seasons, then $100,000 after the ’24 and ’25 seasons).
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Buzz Williams, Texas A&M
Williams ran successful programs at Marquette and Virginia Tech before arriving in College Station — with three Sweet 16 appearances and one in the Elite Eight. But so far, he has yet to turn Texas A&M into a contender in the SEC, and the Aggies haven’t reached the NCAA Tournament during his tenure. Considering his pay is scheduled to increase $100,000 each year and he’s already making top-dollar ($4,000,000), winning is necessary. (Billy Kennedy delivered two Sweet 16 appearances in seven seasons before being fired in 2019.) His payout if fired without cause is $12,933,333.
Jeff Capel, Pittsburgh
The former Duke assistant has had four consecutive losing seasons since taking over the program and has yet to finish in the top 10 of the ACC standings. Capel delivered better results as head coach at Oklahoma (2006-11) before his disappointing time in Norman ended. To note: His $3,533,438 in pay is based off the 2019 calendar year and includes all bonuses paid and the value of the benefits.
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