USA: As demand for high school football coaches rise, salaries soar

Experienced head coaches in top private-school programs in Southern California are paid well into six digits. Critics say the resources would be better-used in the classroom.

In a time of budget cuts, teacher layoffs and campus closures, at least one position in high school education is in such demand that salaries are skyrocketing well into six digits: Hoping to bolster school spirit and create an atmosphere that will attract new students and benefactors, private-school administrators from south Orange County to the outskirts of Ventura are digging deep to structure financial packages for coaches that dwarf those of even the best-trained, experienced teachers.

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At Chaminade Prep in West Hills, Ed Croson makes nearly $100,000 to coach football while the scale for a science or math teacher with a master’s degree and 10 years’ experience is $53,953. And over at Crespi High in Encino, teachers are complaining that new football Coach Jon Mack was awarded a salary of well over $100,000 after instructors — including some who make about a third as much — were told there would be a salary freeze for the 2010-11 school year.

“The pressure is on to pay more,” said Jeff Woodcock, headmaster at Oaks Christian, a relatively young school in upscale Westlake Village. “Why is [football] so important at USC? Why is it so important at top universities? It’s because they know people want to be part of success. When you have a high-profile program that’s successful, it has residual effects.”

Oaks Christian trumpeted its sports programs from the start. When the school opened in the fall of 2000, its 18-acre campus was already dominated by athletic facilities such as a lighted football stadium, all-weather track, 1,200-seat gymnasium, 2,300-square-foot weight room, 50-meter swimming pool, and top-flight baseball and softball complexes.

To guide the football program, Oaks Christian hired Bill Redell, a veteran coach who played professionally in Canada and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame — and he didn’t come cheap.

Redell, who is paid in part from private resources not directly connected to the school, declined to reveal his salary but indicated it was comparable to what other top coaches in the Southland are now receiving — in the area of $100,000 or more, about the same as a top large-school coach makes in football-crazy Texas.

“I’m not low-paid,” Redell said.


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