For every star player there is a great coach that guides them and puts together a roster that helps excel that player and their teammates. Coaches are important for many reasons, they are leaders, father figures, and in this day and age even a psychologist.
Sportico published the 25 highest paid sports coaches in the United States and a few things stood out. For example, there is not one coach from the MLS, MLB, or NHL. NCAA coaches make an incredible amount of money, and the NFL clearly likes to write big checks.
The NBA has some names on the list and while the NFL dominates the number of highest paid coaches, if they truly deserve their salary is a subject for another day. Here are the 25 top paid coaches in American sports.
25. Steve Nash - $8 Million
The now Brooklyn Nets coach got to the Eastern conference semifinals with the Nets in his first year at the helm. In 2020/21 Steve Nash had a .667 winning percentage, not bad for a first timer. Nash earns a substantial amount of money for a coach with all of one year’s experience, $8 million.
24. Nick Nurse - $8 Million
Now in his 4th year as Toronto Raptors coach, Nick Nurse earns $8 million a year. Nurse won the NBA title in 2019, but last season the Raptors did not make the postseason. Nurse has coached since 1989 and been an assistant and head coach in several countries.
23. Mike Budenholzer - $8 Million
The current NBA champion head coach Mike Budenholzer comes in at $8 million a season, Budenholzer has been at the helm of the Bucks for four seasons now with a championship season last year to go along two other very promising seasons.
22. Bruce Arians - $8 Million
Bruce Arians is the first NFL coach on the list coming in at $8 million a season, all Arians has done was win the Super Bowl last season and get the best out of Tom Brady at what many consider the tail end of his career.
21. Sean McVay - $8.5 Million
Sean McVay is the coach of the Los Angeles Rams and in his 5 seasons with the Rams he got to the Super Bowl 1 time and holds a .675 winning percentage. McVay was the AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2017.
20. Sean McDermott - $8.5 Million
There is nothing small market about the Bills if they can shell out $8.5 million on their coach. Sean McDermott has been with the Buffalo Bills for 5 seasons now and has alternated good seasons with some less than impressive ones.
19. Ron Rivera - $8.5 Million
Ron Rivera is at $8.5 million and has been coaching in the NFL since 2011, his biggest claim to fame is taking the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl, losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Since then, it’s been pretty mediocre, Rivera has a less than .500 winning percentage at Washington.
18. Erik Spoelstra - $8.5 Million
Erik Spoelstra is an institution at the Miami Heat, being a part of the coaching staff since 1997 and taking over since 2008. Spoelstra paid back the organization with 2 NBA titles and 5 Eastern conference crowns.
17. Doc Rivers - $8.5 Million
Doc Rivers is a veteran NBA coach and is currently at the helm of the Philadelphia 76ers. Rivers won an NBA title in 2008 and today wants to take the Sixers to the promise land. Dealing with Ben Simmons makes Rivers earn his pay that’s for sure.
16. Matt Rhule - $8.6 Million
The NFL can be generous, it’s the only way to explain that Matt Rhule earns more than Bruce Arians, a very good coach in college Rhule has found life in the NFL hard coaching the Carolina Panthers.
15. John Calipari - $8.6 Million
John Calipari is the first NCAA coach to be on the list, at $8.6 million a season it raises the debate of the money involved in college sports. Calipari coaches the Kentucky Wildcats since 2009.
14. Urban Meyer - $9 Million
Urban Meyer, coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL was a big-time college coach in the NCAA but in the NFL, he is on thin ice. Meyer makes a salary that is not indicative of the results, his first year in the NFL has been a mess.
13. John Harbaugh - $9 Million
Winning a Super Bowl upgrades anyone’s pay day and John Harbaugh did just that winning the big one with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. Harbaugh has had an exceptional record with the Ravens after paying his dues as an assistant.
12. Frank Reich - $9 Million
The Indianapolis Colts head coach has been with the Colts for four seasons now and has done a very good job making the playoffs 2 out of 3 seasons. Reich did it with a different quarterback each year.
11. Dabo Swinney - $9.3 Million
Again, this is how you look at it, how can the “system” justify paying a college football coach 9.3 million dollars to coach collegiate athletes? For a NCAA College football fan Swinney is an institution for those who view college sports with a grain of salt, that money could go to much better uses.
10. Steve Kerr - $9.5 Million
One of the best NBA coaches of his generation, Steve Kerr learned from the best and with the Warriors he coaches the best, a hard worker and team first coach Kerr has won 3 NBA championships all with Golden State.
9. Kyle Shanahan - $9.5 Million
To many an offensive mastermind, to others a below .500 coach getting paid just shy of $10 million. Kyle Shanahan's record with the 49ers is not indicative of one of the highest paid coaches in all of professional sports.
8. Jimbo Fisher - $9.5 Million
Jimbo Fisher has an incredible coaching record in the NCAA and has won 1 national championship. Fisher has broken many records since taking over Texas A&M.
7. Nick Saban - $10.7 Million
Nick Saban has won 7 national championships in the NCAA and is now with the Crimson Tide, he has spotted and cultivated many NFL talents and is nearly always a semifinalist in the College Football Playoffs.
6. Mike Tomlin - $11.5 Million
Mike Tomlin won Super Bowl XLIII and made it to another falling short. Tomlin has never had a losing record with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the best coaches in the NFL.
5. Gregg Popovich - $11.5 Million
A living legend in the NBA Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs since 1996 and winner of 5 NBA titles. Popovich is being paid for what he has done, not so much what he is doing now.
4. Andy Reid - $12 Million
Andy Reid is a Super Bowl winning coach with the Chiefs and has been a firm coach since his days with the Eagles. One of the best in the business and still with miles to go.
3. Sean Payton - $14 Million
The New Orleans Saints boss has been at the helm since 2006, Payton won Super Bowl XLIV with the Saints and has always been in the mix among the best in the NFL.
2. Pete Carroll - $14 Million
Pete Carroll built a legendary NCAA program with USC and would join the Seahawks winning one Super Bowl and almost won back-to-back titles in the NFL. Carroll has won over 100 games in the NFL and continues to go strong.
1. Bill Belichick - $18 Million
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Bill Belichick is the highest paid professional coach in all of American sports. What Belichick built in New England with Tom Brady will go down in history as maybe the greatest sports dynasty in American sports. Belichick is a master on the sidelines.