The Gender Pay Gap Between Women and Men NCAA Head Coaches

Differences in earnings between females and males have been a major problem over decades.

These salary differences between women’s and men’s basketball head coaches may possibly be based on discrimination or bias in the workforce. Meanwhile, others may suggest that men’s programs bring in more revenue and this is why head coaches of men’s programs get paid more than coaches of women’s programs. Data was collected between men’s and women’s basketball coaches at Division I universities, in the 1990-91 season. According to the findings, head coaches of women’s basketball teams make 52-57 percent of what men’s basketball coaches earn (Eastan and Milkman 2). This is a huge difference in the salaries of women and men who have the same occupation. Coaches of men’s and women’s college sports teams should be paid equitably.

Over time collegiate sports have expanded, increasing in popularity, coach salaries, and revenue in these college sports teams. Even though these college programs have increased tremendously, women coaches still do not earn nearly as much as men. As the wages of head coaches continue to rise, the money pouring into these athletic departments does not benefit both genders equally (Traugutt et al. 45).  Head coaches of women’s programs are getting paid lower salaries than those of men’s programs. Why should revenue justify the salary of these collegiate head coaches? It shouldn’t! Roy Williams’ base 2016 contract at the University of North Carolina paid him a little over $2 million, while Sylvia Hatchell, the women’s head basketball coach, was paid around $650,000 dollars (Traugutt et al. 44-45). There is a major difference between these two salaries. Despite the fact that both coaches’ career win percentages and national tournament appearances are equivalent, .732 and 22 for Hatchell and .790 and 26 for Williams (Traugutt et al. 45). Also, Hatchell has more experience in coaching at the university than Williams has. Traugutt states that by comparing these two division 1 head coaches you can see the major gap in salaries. You can also determine which gender gets the “keep up the great work.”

Some may argue that salaries for head coaches are based on the amount of revenue that men’s and women’s programs bring in. Based on NCAA data collected from the 2016-17 basketball season, average attendance for men’s games was 4,799 compared to 1,586 for women’s games (Easton and Milkman 1). Fans are more likely to attend men’s games rather than women’s games. Salaries are based on the market and women coaches are free to ask for more, as in any field. Men’s collegiate programs bring in more revenue than women’s collegiate programs. This may be the answer to your question about how these colleges are able to afford these high wages. Men’s programs bring in a boatload of money from ticket sales, social media, television contracts, alumni boosters, and more. Despite the millions of dollars that these programs gain, frequently, athletic departments spend more than they earn.(Mckenna 5). Why isn’t this money going towards the educational mission of these colleges? Sports have become a marketplace in America. Colleges have spent millions on luxury facilities to lure in top prospects from around the world. Players typically choose their schools based on coaches who have a proven track record of getting graduates into the professional leagues (Mckenna 3). Meanwhile, women’s athletic departments are like the hated step-children. They barely receive new gear, exercise equipment, practice facilities, uniforms, trainers, and travel funds. 

Covid 19 played a major part in college athletics. The pandemic was sudden and came without a warning immediately affected the economy and college sports as well. There was a major loss in revenue as a result of teams having to end their season and others have restrictions on fans in the facility. To stay solvent, college presidents and athletic directors were obliged to make severe adjustments, including wage cuts, the termination of sports, and the reduction of athletic personnel.(Williams and Mathis 3). The main sources of revenue for these sports decreased drastically. It will take years to get back to “normal” again. Just imagine how the pandemic has negatively affected women’s programs. This is why coaches’ compensation should not be determined by income; anything may happen, such as an outbreak, to reduce revenue and divert funds away from these college programs.

The revenue that these athletic programs bring in should be distributed equitably amongst the college or university. These athletic programs are treated as a business market. Universities and colleges are not a venue for entertainment. All funds received, whether through sports, contributions, taxes, or tuition, should be used in accordance with the institution’s general aims. Sports money should be divided across all departments at a college or university, and all coaches, men, and women should be compensated equally. Coaches should be compensated more like professors, with raises based on job performance and seniority rather than ticket revenue and television deals.

Women are at the disadvantage of being in a male-dominated occupation. “‘The great majority of DI athletic directors are men’”(Welch and Sigelman 1421). There may be bias from male athletic directors, by offering more males a job, giving a bigger budget to male programs, and more. “‘Male athletic directors, they speculate, are more likely to hire males because they perceive a shortage of qualified women coaches and a tendency from women to have family obligations’”(Welch and Sigleman 1421). This goes back to the traditional gender roles of how women should stick to more feminine jobs and men should handle the masculine jobs. The world is changing every day! When are we going to wake up and realize that females deserve the same opportunities as men? 

Head coaches of women’s programs should receive equal pay as coaches of men’s programs. Over time sports have evolved to bigger platforms, which has raised salaries for head coaches. Gender-based wage discrimination came into place and affected many women coaches’ salaries. People should understand the effect of prestige that is in men’s athletic programs and also how athletic administrations are biased. Gender should not influence the payment of these athletic college programs but should be based on job performance and seniority. Revenue amongst men’s and women’s athletic programs should not justify the salary of head coaches.

There should be more focus on the academic side of these athletic programs. Factors like how many students graduate, while the coach has the job should be put into place. Head coaches should be able to demonstrate their worth based on their hard work in assisting these players intellectually and athletically, rather than on their popularity.


                                                                     Works Cited

Eaton, David, and Martin Milkman. “Gender Differences in NCAA Non-Revenue Sports: An Examination of Men’s and Women’s Soccer Coaching Salaries.” Faculty & Staff Research and Creative Activity, 12 Mar. 2021, pp. 1–23. Accessed 25 March 2022. 

Humphreys, Brad R. “Equal Pay on the Hardwood: The Earnings Gap Between Male and Female NCAA Division I Basketball Coaches.” Journal of Sports Economics, vol. 1, no. 3, Aug. 2000, pp. 299–307. Accessed 25 March 2022.

McKenna, Laura. “The Madness of College Basketball Coaches’ Salaries” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 24 Mar. 2016, pp. 1-10. Accessed 10 April 2022.

Traugutt, Alex, et al. “Salary Disparities between Male and Female Head Coaches: An Investigation of the NCAA Power Five Conferences.” Journal of SPORT, 2018, pp. 40–55.  Accessed 5 April 2022.

Welch, Susan, and Lee Sigelman. “Who’s Calling the Shots? Women Coaches in Division I Women’s Sports.” Social Science Quarterly, vol. 88, no. 5, Dec. 2007, pp. 1415–1434. Accessed 1 April 2022.                                             

Williams, Matthew, and Devin Mathis. “The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Stress It Put on College Athletics.” The Sport Journal, vol. 24, no. 1543-9518, 13 Aug. 2021, pp. 1-11. Accessed 10  April 2022.

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Jashyree Bell

My name is Jashyree Bell and I am currently a freshmen at Stephens College. I am majoring in Integrative Human Biology. I love to run, draw, and hang out with friends.

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