Poor pay. Long hours. Three decades without a pay raise. No compensation for success.
The top state in the nation in producing NFL talent is one of the poorest in paying its high school football coaches, the ones responsible for guiding the futures of thousands of students.
Coaches know that they won’t get rich doing what they love, at least not at a public high school in Florida. They say they do it because they love what they do and have a chance to make an impact on lives. But few outside the walls of most schools know the financial and family sacrifices that coaches running any level of program make to put the best product out on the field for 10 weeks in the fall.
With the demands of coaches increasing in scope over the past five years, the train that has carried coaches to better-paying jobs out of the state, or out of the field entirely, is speeding up. Half of the 40 public schools in the Times-Union’s coverage area have combined to make 25 head coaching changes since 2014.
Average coaching pay: $63 a week.
Across the 64 districts that pay supplements, the average high school football coach is paid $4,382.98, according to research compiled by the Times-Union. For what could be a 16-week season that begins in late August and can conclude as late as mid-December, that might be considered decent pay for a part-time job.
The reality is quite different.
Stretch that average out across 52 weeks — the real calendar for football coaches — and tabulate the hours. Several coaches who detailed their jobs to the Times-Union put their annual football-only workload in excess of the 900-hour range. That’s in addition to the teaching positions that eat up the first seven or eight hours of their day.
That total also absorbs a lofty tax hit — supplements are taxed at the 25 percent rate — which turns the average head coach pay into $3,287.23, or about $63 a week.
Don’t count on a pay raise, either.
If supplemental raises make it to the negotiation table during union bargaining, they often leave it unchanged. The last time football coaches in Columbia and Duval counties received a supplemental increase was nearly 30 years ago, right about the time movies like “Top Gun” and “Full Metal Jacket” were in theaters.
And because coaches are more than almost always unionized teachers whose contracts run for 10 months, they don’t get anything for summer, a period filled with workouts, camps, 7-on-7 tournaments, recruiting trips and trying to keep players from transferring. Some coaches can earn extra money in the summer for mowing the field — for $10 an hour.