Five most overpaid men's college basketball coaches: Looking at you, Calipari and Hoiberg

Several college hoops coaches are struggling to match the expectations that come with a contract worth multiple millions in annual salary.

Money can't buy you happiness, a national championship or, in some cases, even a winning season.

Some of the most successful coaches in college basketball rank among the nation's highest-paid, including Kansas coach Bill Self and Virginia's Tony Bennett. But there are many more coaches struggling to match the expectations that come with a contract worth multiple millions in annual salary.

That includes the highest-paid coach in the sport, Kentucky's John Calipari, who is earning $8.5 million in total compensation with a contract that runs through the 2028-29 season. After being knocked out in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats have spent most of this season unranked and on the tournament bubble.

USA TODAY Sports compiled pay information from each school in the Power Five conferences and from each school outside those conferences whose team has appeared in at least three of the past five NCAA tournaments.

These are the five most overpaid coaches in men's college basketball, led by Calipari:

Kentucky head coach John Calipari

John Calipari, Kentucky

There are concerns that Calipari's tenure at Kentucky has grown stale as he heads into the home stretch of his 14th season. After missing the tournament in 2021 and getting jettisoned early last spring, the Wildcats have looked tired and predictable on offense while struggling to lock down a postseason bid. The results haven't been there to justify Calipari's salary, which is by far the largest in the country; in second is Kansas' Bill Self at $5.96 million.

Chris Holtmann, Ohio State

Holtmann won at least 20 games in each of his first five seasons at Ohio State with four tournament bids, though the Buckeyes have yet to advance out of the opening weekend. He's also won 62.2% of his games, good for third among all OSU coaches in the past century. But this year's team started 10-3 and cracked the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll before dropping 13 of 14 games to plummet toward the bottom of the Big Ten. Holtmann ranks 24th nationally and seventh in the conference at $3.5 million in total compensation and has a university buyout of $16.8 million. 

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MOST UNDERPAID:  Coaching bargains at Purdue, Iowa State 

Mike Hopkins, Washington

The longtime Syracuse assistant started his tenure with a bang, winning 21 games in 2017-18 and then winning 27 games and the Pac-12 regular-season championship a year later. Since then, Hopkins and the Huskies have won 15, 5, 17 and 16 games, with this year's team needing a miraculous run to the conference championship to get back into tournament play. At 101-90 overall and under .500 in the Pac-12 (51-61), the results haven't been there to justify Hopkins' $3 million salary. 

Fred Hoiberg, Nebraska

Hoiberg's stint in Lincoln opened with enormous fanfare — all deserved after his terrific run at Iowa State — but has landed with a thud. Nebraska won just 24 games and went 9-50 in Big Ten play in his first three seasons, annually ranking among the very worst teams in the major conferences. The Cornhuskers have surged in the past month and are sitting at 16-15 overall and 9-11 in the Big Ten, raising hopes that the program has turned a corner. This has earned him another season, but Hoiberg will have to continue Nebraska's climb up the conference standings to warrant his $3.25 million salary. That amount was lowered from $3.5 million after last season as part of a contract renegotiation that also included a major reduction in the buyout he would be owed and the deletion of a $500,000 retention payment he had been set to receive if he remained head coach through the end of the 2023-24 season.

Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State

Tinkle earned a four-year contract extension in April 2021 after leading Oregon State to a memorable run to the Elite Eight. That boosted his basic annual pay to nearly $2.7 million, seventh in the Pac-12, and resulted in his university buyout being $11.9 million this season. The results haven't been there, to put it mildly: OSU went 3-28 last season, winning just once in conference play, and are currently 11-20, second to last in the unimpressive Pac-12. While this year's team has improved, Tinkle is on the hot seat.

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