As Sportico has previously illustrated, Saint Peter’s University, this year’s Sweet 16 Cinderella, achieved one of the biggest financial upsets in modern NCAA men’s basketball history when it defeated Kentucky in the first round.
Now, the tiny New Jersey Catholic school of 2,600 undergraduates enters Thursday’s third round of March Madness as another budgetary outlier: an institution whose president makes more money than its basketball coach.
According to the private university’s most recently disclosed tax filings, from FY20, president Eugene Cornacchia earned just over $416,000, while basketball coach Shaheen Holloway took home just less than $245,000. That juxtaposition stands in stark contrast to the remaining schools in the men’s basketball tournament, several of whose head coaches earn at least five times as much as their campus’ chief administrative officer.
“Saint Peter’s historically has been very prudent in its focus on the balance between athletics and academics,” Cornacchia told Sportico in a statement. “During my time as president we’ve tried to increase our investment in athletics… However, it is important to find the right balance between the two. To not let things get out of control, to where it’s possible that you lose your focus.”
To be sure, the Peacocks’ focus could rapidly evolve amid the exuberance over its tourney run, especially if it were to pull off the ultimate upset: keeping Holloway from being hired away by a bigger, richer program. Cornacchia, however, preaches moderation.
“We’re never going to be on the level that some other schools are,” he said, “but we also aren’t those other schools. We are Saint Peter’s University. We will continue to look for additional investments that make sense for us as our resources allow.”
Consider the example of another Jesuit institution, Loyola Chicago, which made its Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2018. Head coach Porter Moser was earning $465,613—significantly less school president Jo Ann Rooney ($646,636). The following year, however, Moser’s pay was bumped over $1 million, while Rooney earned $745,181.
As for the other remaining 16 teams in this year’s NCAA tournament, the salary situation is a familiar for Division I schools:
- Kansas chancellor Doug Girod earns around $650,000 a year, while basketball coach Bill Self signed a lifetime contract last year that guarantees him $8.2 million annually between salary and retention bonuses. Self has already pocketed another $175,000 in incentive bonuses this year for his team co-winning the Big 12 regular season, prevailing at the conference tourney and advancing to the Sweet 16.
- Mike Krzyzewski—who stands to have pocketed nine figures from his two-plus decades leading the Duke Blue Devils by the end of this, his final season—earned almost $7.4 million in the fiscal year ending June 2020. The school’s president Vincent Price earned $1.5 million.
- Purdue president Mitch Daniels, the former Indiana governor, earns a large share of his yearly compensation from a performance bonus that takes into consideration factors like student success and university fundraising. For 2020-21, this formula added a $232,470 bonus on top of Daniels’ guaranteed salary of $430,500, for total earnings of $662,970. Boilermakers basketball coach Matt Painter, meanwhile, earned $3.1 million.
- Villanova’s Jay Wright made roughly $6.2 million that year, which is roughly $6.2 million more than the school’s top administrator. As a priest in the Augustinian Order of the Roman Catholic Church, the school’s president, Rev. Peter Donohue, declines to take any direct compensation.