The highest paid GMs in sports typically make millions of dollars to take their teams to the next level. The following 20 coaches and general managers all make well over $8 million per year and come the NFL, NBA, and NCAA. Some of the names will be obvious: others might surprise you!
19 tie. Erik Spoelstra, NBA: $8.5 million
Spoelstra has been with the Miami Heat since 1995, starting his career there as a video coordinator. He amazingly worked his way up to head coach by 2008 and led the Heat to back-to-back championships led by the amazing skills of LeBron James.
While Spoelstra hasn't won a championship since losing James, he has continued to keep the Heat competitive. He is known for his ability to juggle multiple player egos and fit them into dynamic schemes that help his teams win.
19 tie. Doc Rivers, NBA: $8.5 million
Doc Rivers is another former NBA player who became a successful coach. Rivers won an NBA Championship coaching Boston in 2008 and has helped transform struggling teams like the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers into better franchises. His abilities earned him "Coach of the Year" honors in 2000 with the Magic.
Rivers joined the underperforming Philadelphia 76ers and has helped keep them consistent after many years of struggle. While they aren't quite hitting the peak that many predicted, Rivers' intelligent and passionate coaching has kept them in the game and engaging to watch.
18. John Calipari, NCAA Basketball: $8.602 million
Calipari's lengthy coaching career started in 1988 with the University of Massachusetts and has included time in the NBA and even as the coach of the Dominican Republic National Team. However, his reputation comes with his decade-long association with Kentucky.
Since joining the team, Calipari has led the team to the Final Four four times, though he hasn't made an appearance since 2015. Calipari has twenty-seven 20-win seasons, eleven 30-win seasons, and five 35-win seasons and one national championship.
17. David Shaw, NCAA Football: $8.925 million
David Shaw joined Stanford and produced five double-digit win seasons from 2011-2016 and kept this team surprisingly successful for many years. However, his team has struggled in the last few years and he hasn't had a winning season in a few years.
In spite of that, he earns good money coaching the Cardinals. While his contract isn't likely to be terminated any time this season (as Stanford likely doesn't have a great replacement option), it's uncertain if Shaw will remain with them in the long term.
15 tie. Jimbo Fisher: $9 million
Jimbo Fisher is the current coach of Texas A&M after resigning from Florida State. In 2020, he led the Aggies to a 9-1 record with an 8-1 SEC showing that just saw them missing the college playoff. He was one of the only coaches in NCAA history to beat Urban Meyer by beating the Crimson Tide in 2021.
While the Aggies haven't done as well in 2021 and 2022 as was expected, Fisher remains one of the highest paid GMs in sports. Only time will tell how long Texas A&M will keep him on staff if he doesn't get into the national championship in the next few years.
15 tie. John Harbaugh, NFL: $9 million
John Harbaugh joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 and has stayed with them ever since. He has continually pushed the Ravens to great success and has won a Super Bowl with the team in 2012. Harbaugh has just two losing seasons with the team.
Harbaugh is known as both a defensive and offensive guru and won his Super Bowl ring in a unique situation. He faced his brother Jim Harbaugh, who coached the 49ers at the time, in the big game and came out the champ.
10 tie. Ryan Day, NCAA Football: $9.5 million
After Urban Meyer abandoned Ohio State for a disastrous season in the NFL, Ryan Day stepped into his shoes. The expectations were high but Day has overachieved. He has a 34-4 record with the team and had a championship appearance in 2020.
Since then, Day has kept the team consistently in the top section of the league, including a strong 2022 season where the team rarely left the top three. If they win a national championship against the leading team, Georgia, his salary may grow even higher.
10 tie. Mel Tucker, NCAA Football: $9.5 million
Michigan State surprised many people by hiring Mel Tucker to help their team bounce back from losing long-time coach Mark Dantonio. After a rough 2-5 season in the short 2020 COVID-19 season, Tucker led the Spartans to a double-digit season in 2021 and earned a $9.5 million paycheck.
Since that season, Michigan State has looked confused and unable to win. They lost four games in October for the first time in years and even experienced a major controversy when several players attacked a University of Michigan player after a loss in 2022.
10 tie. Brian Kelly, NCAA Football: $9.5 million
Brian Kelly surprised many by defecting from Notre Dame to join the LSU Tigers. Amazingly, he makes $9.5 million per year on a 10-year contract. This means that he could make $100 million or more, depending on how well the team succeeds in the playoffs.
Kelly comes to the Tigers with a 113-40 record at Notre Dame and five consecutive double-digit-win seasons. LSU is looking to transform their struggling team and is willing to pay Kelly a lot of money to take them to the next level.
10 tie. Steve Kerr, NBA: $9.5 million
Steve Kerr is that rarest of beats in the NBA: a great player who turned into an even better coach. With the Golden State Warriors, he has earned four NBA championships and was named the Coach of the Year in 2016 for his fantastic season.
While Kerr's success has been spurred by the amazing play of GOAT shooter Stephen Curry and other great players, Kerr has successfully navigated team injuries and other hardships to keep his team successful. His fast-paced coaching method has kept The Warriors among the top teams in the league for almost a decade.
10 tie. Kyle Shanahan, NFL: $9.5 million
When the San Francisco 49ers hired Kyle Shanahan to coach, there were grumbles from many in the league. Son of former coach Mike Shanahan, many were uncertain if Kyle deserved the job. However, he helped return the flailing 49ers to relevancy and even took the team to multiple Super Bowl appearances.
Shanahan has been praised for his intelligent offense, one that works around a questionable quarterback by limiting his passes and using him in only specific situations. That helps the 49ers make surprisingly strong appearances against teams with far superior quarterbacks.
9. Lincoln Riley, NCAA Football: $10 million
Though Riley's salary isn't certain because his school, USC, is private, he likely makes about $10 million per year. Riley was brought to USC to turn the struggling program around and turn it into a major powerhouse in the league instead of a minor afterthought.
If anyone can do it, Riley might be the one. As one of the younger head coaches in the league, Riley thrived as a quarterback at Texas Tech. He is known as a quarterback whisperer and has produced strong competitors like Baker Mayfield, Jalen Hurts, and Kyler Murray.
8. Bill Self, NCAA Basketball: $10.184 million
Bill Self is one of the longest-tenured NCAA basketball coaches and one of the most successful. He has taken the Kansas Jayhacks to four NCAA Final Four Appearances, the 2008 NCAA Championship, and the 2022 NCAA Championship and earned 14 consecutive Big 12 championships.
Self has an amazing 292-16 record with Kansas and has recruited several unlikely players who went on to become NBA greats. Amazingly, his team has only lost two games in a row twice and never three in a row.
7. Pete Carroll, NFL: $11 million
Until Sean McVay's sudden leap into the leading position, Pete Carroll comfortably sat as one of the highest paid GMs in sports. Like Belichick, his salary dipped slightly over the years, particularly from 2021 to 2022. However, Carroll is still making good money.
Carroll is earning every single one of those dollars in Seattle. After taking the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls and winning one, he has won over 100 games in the league. Furthermore, he helped not only keep the team afloat after star quarterback Russell Wilson left, but has made his team better.
6. Kirby Smart, NCAA Football: $11.25 million
Kirby Smart spent much of his career as Nick Saban's defensive coordinator at Alabama, where he led the stiffing defense that made the Tide so great. He made a jump to Georgia in 2016 as head coach and, after a rough first season, has transformed the Bulldogs into a powerhouse.
Smart uses a fast-paced offense and his stout defensive skills to limit opponents' scoring opportunities. His national championship against Alabama included a three-touchdown fourth quarter. There are some in the league who see Smart and Georgia as the next Crimson Tide.
4 tie. Dabo Swinney, NCAA Football: $11.5 million
Dabo Swinney may lack the instant name recognition that comes with Nick Saban or Urban Meyer. However, he helped lead Clemson to the College Football Player for six straight seasons and won two national championships during that time.
Since those championship wins, Swinney has struggled. In 2021 and 2022, the Tigers haven't been nearly as competitive and, while still good, aren't living up to expectations. Swinney still seems to have the support of the college and the fan base, but only time will tell if it stays that way.
4 tie. Gregg Popovich, NBA: $11.5 million
Gregg Popovich is a legend in the NBA and one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. "Pop" is the first NBA coach in history to earn 1,200 career wins with one team and has kept the Spurs competitive for decades. He has won five NBA titles, three coach of the year awards, and 22 consecutive playoff berths.
Pop was helped heavily by great players like future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, one of the top five best players of all time. However, Pop's brilliant coaching style and confident appearance continually kept the Spurs innovative and engaging.
3. Nick Saban, NCAA Football: $11.7 million
Nick Saban is by far the highest paid college coach in the world right now. There's a reason for that. Since joining the Alabama Crimson Tide as head coach, Saban has gone 183-25 and has won six national championships.
Saban is known for focusing heavily on the running game and powerful defenses. His Crimson Tide rarely gives up many points and, at most, loses one game per year. Saban has never had a losing season since joining the Tide and is unlikely to in the foreseeable future.
2. Bill Belichick, NFL: $12.5 million
Bill Belichick is a coach who likely needs no introduction for football fans. Belichick is arguably the greatest NFL coach of all time. For many years, he was also the highest paid coach.
His salary took a hit in 2022. Perhaps this is because the Patriots have struggled to find a groove without long-time quarterback Tom Brady. That said, Belichick isn't exactly suffering.
1. Sean McVay, NFL: $15-18 million
Sean McVay was not only the youngest head coach in NFL history in 2017 at just 30 but was also the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl in 2022, when his Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Currently, he is making between $15-18 million per year working with the team.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the Super Bowl Blues hit them hard in 2022. They have not only had a hard time getting wins, but Matthew Stafford has been injured several times.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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