The Highest-Paid Government Employee in Your State is Probably a Football or Basketball Coach

At Deadspin, Reuben Fischer-Baum has an interesting piece cataloguing the highest-paid state employees in each of the fifty states. Forty of fifty are coaches, all but one of them in either football or basketball.

As Fischer-Baum notes, this state of affairs is not quite as egregious as it may at first seem. Many of these Division I football and basketball programs generate a lot of revenue for their state universities, and the coaches are often paid out of that revenue rather than taxpayer funds. I would also add that NCAA coaches are among the very few state employees who face a serious risk of being fired for poor performance. Most Division I football and basketball coaches get fired within a few years of starting a new job.

On the other hand, as Fischer-Baum also points out, many of the coaches are paid far more than is justified by their marginal contribution to their universities’ revenue streams, even as the NCAA – supported by state and federal governments – continues to operate a cartel that tries to prevent all financial compensation for the players. I made the case for paying Division athletes here and here.

Finally, the state of Maine deserves special recognition from legal academics. According to Fischer-Baum, the highest-paid state official in the Pine Tree State is a law school dean.

UPDATE: In the original version of this post, I accidentally got Fischer-Baum’s first name wrong (I put “Robert” instead of “Reuben”). Perhaps I subconsciously confused him with the late Bobby Fischer. In any case, I apologize for the error, which has now been corrected.