Nick Saban Is Worth More Than $85 Million

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Hey Friends,

Nick Saban got PAID earlier this week. Alabama’s head football coach agreed to a new 8-year contract worth at least $84.8 million, making him the first college coach in history to reach $10 million in annual recurring compensation.

Nick Saban’s Annual Salary

  • 2021-22: $9.5 million

  • 2022-23: $9.9 million

  • 2023-24: $10.3 million

  • 2024-25: $10.7 million

  • 2025-26: $11.1 million

  • 2026-27: $10.7 million

  • 2027-28: $11.1 million

  • 2028-29: $11.5 million

Given he is a government employee, Nick Saban’s base salary will stay at $275,000 annually, but his ‘talent fee’ will start at $8.825 million and grow by $400,000 annually. The Crimson Tide Foundation pays for that fee.

Even more interesting, the data suggests that he’s still underpaid.

Most sports fan knows about the “Flutie Effect.” Named after Doug Flutie, a Boston College quarterback who successfully threw a Hail Mary to beat Miami in a nationally televised game in 1984, the general idea is that college applications surge following athletic success.

The examples are virtually endless. Boston College saw a 30% jump in applications for the two years after Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary in 1984. Applications jumped 13% at Auburn after Cam Newton led them to a BCS national championship victory in 2011. And even Florida Gulf Coast saw a 27% increase in applications after advancing to the sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed in 2013.

Alabama is no different. Nick Saban has methodically built the most dominant program in college football since arriving in Tuscaloosa in 2007. They’ve won 6 of the past 12 national championships, played in 8 of the last 12 title games, and have recorded double-digit wins every single season since 2007.

The craziest stat? Nick Saban has now had almost 40 players drafted in the 1st round of the NFL Draft since 2007, a record which likely no other college football coach will ever surpass and an invaluable tool within his recruiting process.

But that on-field success has also had a trickle-down effect on other parts of the school. When Nick Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, they had a total enrollment of about 25,000 students.

That number has increased to almost 40,000 now, representing a 60% jump in enrollment and significantly outpacing the 10% increase that the average U.S. public college has seen over the same time period.

An increase in total enrollment is great. It brings more money, more attention, and hopefully, more prestige to a university. But the type of student matters much more than just a number.

Not only has Alabama increased its annual enrollment by about 60%, but the overall composition of its student body has significantly changed also. For example, when Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the majority of Alabama’s freshmen class was composed of students paying in-state tuition.

Today, only about 40% of the university students are from Alabama, with over 56% coming from elsewhere in the United States, and the remaining 4% is international.

That’s important for several reasons, but mostly financially. Alabama’s out-of-state enrollment increased from about 12,000 students in 2011 to more than 22,000 students in 2020.

Those students pay about 3x more in annual tuition than an in-state student — $30,000 vs. $10,000 — which means that 10,000 additional students paying $20,000 annually is worth about $200 million to the universtiy (10,000 x $20,000 = $200M).

Sure, Alabama will cover a portion of that through scholarships, but even if you take 50% of it away, that’s still $100 million. Also, don’t forget that students pay tuition annually, meaning that Alabama now reaps this ~$200 million benefit every year regardless of its athletic performance.

There’s nuance to this, of course. Nick Saban isn’t solely responsible for the increase in applicants, and Alabama prioritized growing out-of-state enrollment years ago. But my point is simple — the dominance of Alabama football has led to an invaluable amount of advertising each fall.

The salary of college coaches has always been a touchy subject. Maybe that will change with the ability for college student-athletes to now earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness, or maybe it won’t. But regardless, the value of Nick Saban is undeniable.

Have a great day, and I’ll talk to everyone tomorrow.


For additional reading, my friend (& sister-in-law!) Polina Marinova of The Profile wrote an excellent profile on Nick Saban earlier this year — check it out below.

The Profile
The Profile Dossier: Nick Saban, America's Most Successful Coach
This week, Alabama head coach Nick Saban won a record seventh national title after his team defeated Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship. He now boasts the most national championships by a head coach in college football history. Although Saban has proven to be one of the greatest college football coaches, that label hasn't c……
Read more

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