Alabama: 45th in helping kids, No. 1 in paying coach

Alabama has their priorities straight, don’t they.

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) — The $4 million-a-year salary offered to the University of Alabama’s new football coach has some questioning the priorities in a poor state that often ranks near the bottom nationally for education.

Many Crimson Tide fans, hopeful for another championship title, cheered the hiring of Nick Saban, who took a cut from his $4.5 million salary to leave the Miami Dolphins. His compensation at Alabama, though, makes him the highest paid college coach in the country, well ahead of Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, who makes about $3.4 million.

The reported salary is more than most CEOs make in a state that ranks 46th in the country in household income, with a median of $37,502. It also is nearly seven times what the university’s president, Robert E. Witt, earns, according to an executive-compensation database compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The hiring announced Wednesday also came on the same day Education Week magazine released a study showing Alabama ranked 45th nationally in giving public schoolchildren a chance for success.

“You couldn’t have a more stark picture of education priorities in the state of Alabama,” said Jim Carnes, communications director for Alabama Arise, a coalition that represents the poor. “We put that kind of money into a college football coach and leave our younger children at the mercy of inadequate schools and underpaid teachers. We strongly need a priority adjustment.”

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