In 2004, much ado was made about Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s decision to turn down a lucrative offer, reportedly $40 million over five years, to lead the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Your heart has to be in whatever you lead,” Krzyzewski explained at the time of his decision to stay in Durham, N.C., not the first occasion he had passed up an offer to coach in the pros.
But fear not for the wallet of Coach K, who yesterday confirmed reports that he would be retiring after the 2021-22 season, his 41st at Duke. In the end, Krzyzewski has made out pretty well, financially speaking, by forgoing NBA riches to work in nonprofit higher education.
Tax returns show that Krzyzewski has earned at least $87 million, in total compensation, over the last two decades—from 2000 through June 2020. The five-time NCAA champion took in $7 million in nine of the last 11 tax years, an earnings streak that included a nearly $10 million haul in 2012.
Indeed, despite passing on the Lakers, Krzyzewski has been making the equivalent of top NBA coaching money for years. By the time he walks off the court next spring, he will take his place among company even more elite than his peers in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: the college coaching nine-figure club.