Is Oliver Purnell one of the most overpaid coaches in college hoops?


Amid all the outrage over John Calipari's $36.5 million eight year contract extension, Yahoo! Sports writer Jason King thinks Purnell is too handsomely compensated.

Purnell raked in $1.8 million for his inaugural 7-24 season at DePaul. That's $58,064.52 per game, $257,142.86 per win, $855.51 per point or $13.79 per reported home fan. Sounds obscene in those terms.

The Blue Demon head man gets a pass for his first season at the helm, since his team and its recruits were inherited. But we won't really know his worth as a coach until another season or two. This program is in need of someone who can learn to successfully bring in the nation's top recruits from their own backyard.

In the meantime, I decided to compare the salaries and winning percentages of all coaches in the Big East. Here's what I found.

While he's one of the few Big East coaches with zero NCAA tournament wins to his name, Purnell is tied with Villanova's Jay Wright and West Virginia's Bob Huggins for fourth highest paid in the conference.

I plotted all the coaches' annual salaries against their win% at the high-major level (so, for example, coaches that racked up wins at, say, Dayton, aren't unfairly weighted). It's maybe not the greatest measure of a coaches' "bang for the buck," but it measures precisely what every AD wants: wins.

Still, coaches with small data sets like Kevin Willard and Mike Rice are probably inaccurately depicted here. The salaries of Steve Lavin and Ed Cooley, while argued about, aren't really known.


Big East Coach (Annual Salary; Win-loss record at the high-major level)

  1. Jim Calhoun, UConn ($3.2 million; 605-228)
  2. Rick Pitino, Louisville ($2.5 million; 374-124)
  3. John Thompson III, Georgetown ($1.83 million; 160-71)
  4. Jay Wright, Villanova ($1.80 million; 224-110)
  5. Bob Huggins, West Virginia ($1.80 million; 384-124)
  6. Oliver Purnell, DePaul ($1.80 million; 145-114)
  7. Jamie Dixon, Pitt ($1.39 million; 216-60)
  8. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse ($1.35 million; 856-301)
  9. Mick Cronin, Cincinnati ($1 million; 87-76)
  10. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall ($1 million; 13-17)
  11. Stan Heath, USF ($900,000; 123-115)
  12. Buzz Williams, Marquette ($876,282; 83-53)
  13. Mike Brey, Notre Dame ($781,643; 238-120)
  14. Mike Rice, Rutgers ($650,000; 15-17)
  15. Ed Cooley, Providence (unknown)
  16. Steve Lavin,St. John's (unknown)

Best Bang for the Buck in the Big East

  1. Jamie Dixon
  2. Jim Boeheim
  3. Bob Huggins
  4. Mike Brey
  5. John Thompson III
  6. Rick Pitino

Most Overpaid in the Big East

  1. Oliver Purnell
  2. Stan Heath
  3. Jim Calhoun
  4. Mick Cronin

Of course, this analysis unfairly treats all wins equally, meaning regular season and Final Four wins count the same. Jim Calhoun won't appreciate that.

Purnell is 87 wins (with no losses) away from entering the "bang for the buck" side of the graph. Since he will likely continue to have at least a few losses, he may never enter that side of the graph at his current salary level.

I'm reserving my judgement, however, as Purnell works to turn DePaul around. Any progress this season will be rewarded with more prospects and more progress for next season. He's well-paid because of the amount of work to be done. In that sense, he's on the right path.

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Tags: DePaul, Oliver Purnell

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