It is just a few months until the 2017 NCAA Tournament begins. However, one thing we can learn from the teams that made it to this tournament in 2016 is that they all had one vital thing in common: excellent coaching. If you must succeed in college basketball, you need great coaching. Here is a lineup of five of the highest paid coaches who led their teams to the last season’s NCAA Tournament.
1. John Calipari, Kentucky
Total pay: $6,356,756
Maximum Bonus: $50,000
When Kentucky was seeking to restore its storied program to prominence, they brought in John Calipari. It is no secret that the brass found the right man for the job. Born on February 10, 1945, Calipari has been University of Kentucky’s head coach since 2009. Previously, Calipari was the senior coach at the University of Memphis from 2000 to 2009. Calipari has been to six Final Fours, four of these with Kentucky. He is the only head coach that had Final Four appearances vacated at more than one school. As a college coach, Cal has 22 20-win seasons, nine 30-win seasons, and four 35-win seasons, and he has been nominated National Coach of the Year five times.
2. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
Total Pay: $6,043,979
Total bonus: N/A
Michael William Krzyzewski, nicknamed “Coach K,” was born on February 13, 1947. He has been the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the Duke University since 1980. Krzyzewski has led the Duke University team the Blue Devils, to 12 NCAA Championships. He has also led them to 12 Final Fours and 12 ACC regular season titles. Krzyzewski was also the coach of the US men’s basketball team and has led them to win gold medals at the Summer Olympics in 2016, 2012, and 2008. Additionally, he has served as the chief coach of the American team that won gold medals at the 2014 and 2010 FIBA World Cup. He also served as a deputy coach for the 1992 “Dream Team.” Krzyzewski is among the best coaches in the history of college basketball. His name is synonymous with the highest level of achievement in college basketball.
3. Rick Pitino, Louisville
Total pay: $6,004,529
Maximum Bonus: $775,000
Richard Andrew Pitino, aka “Rick,” was born on September 18, 1952. Rick has been the head coach at the University of Louisville since 2001, and he has led the Cardinals to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship in 2013. Pitino has also served as head coach at Providence College, Boston University, and the University of Kentucky, leading them to the 1996 NCAA championship. In addition to his career as a college head coach, Rick also served two stints in the NBA. He coached the Boston Celtics for three seasons and the New York Knicks for two seasons. Pitino is distinguished as the only men’s coach in NCAA’s history to lead three different schools (Louisville, Kentucky, and Providence) to a Final Four. He’s also the only coach in the NCAA who led two different schools to a NCAA Championship (Louisville and Kentucky). Rick is also one among the only four coaches in NCAA history (together with Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, and Dean Smith) to lead his school to the Final Four in four separate decades. He was officially elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on 8th April 2013 during the Final Four. At 63, Rick has amassed 737 career victories.
4. Bill Self, Kansas
Total Pay: $4,955,186
Maximum Bonus: $525,000
Billy Eugene Self Jr. was born on December 27, 1962. During his 13 seasons as head coach at the University of Kansas, Self has coached the Jayhawks to 12 straight Big 12 championships (2005-2016). He has also led them to two NCAA Final Four appearances (2012 and 2008) and the 2008 NCAA championship.
Self has been nominated National Coach of the Year twice (2012 and 2009), and he is one of four active coaches that have coached three different teams to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament (Illinois, Kansas, and Tulsa). From 2006 to 2012, he had the most distinguished six-year record than any men’s coach in the history of Division I (197-29). During his tenure at Kansas, he has converted several McDonald’s All-Americans to Jayhawks, including Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, and Cliff Alexander.
5. Tom Izzo, Michigan State
Total Pay: $4, 00,955
Maximum Bonus: $350,000
Thomas Michael Izzo was born on 30th January 1955. He has been the head coach at Michigan State University since 1995. Izzo was selected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on April 4, 2016. Under Izzo, the Spartans have been among the most successful college basketball programs in the US. He has led them to the 2009 NCAA National Championship Game, the 2000 NCAA Division I National Championship, seven Final Fours, and five Big Ten Tournament Championships in his 21-year period at Michigan State. Currently, Izzo is the longest serving coach in the Big Ten Conference, and his teams are known for their defense tenacity and rebounding prowess.
Indeed, all these coaches have a proven track record of exceptional performance, and this can be witnessed by the success of their teams.