UL's Napier tops Sun Belt Conference on total pay list

Tim Buckley
The Daily Advertiser

UL football coach Billy Napier's total annual pay is the highest among all head football coaches in the Sun Belt Conference, according to figures released Tuesday and compiled by USA TODAY Sports.

Napier’s reported total pay of $875,000 for this season is $50,000 more than next-closest Blake Anderson of Arkansas State, whose Red Wolves fell 37-20 to the Ragin’ Cajuns last Thursday night.

Other Sun Belt coaches’ total pay, according to the USA TODAY Sports annual report: Jake Spavital, Texas State, $800,000; Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State, $750,000; Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern, $680,000; Steve Campbell, South Alabama, $619,000; Chip Lindsey, Troy, $600,000; Shawn Elliott, Georgia State, $594,000; Matt Viator, UL Monroe, $390,000; Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina, $360,000.

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UL's Billy Napier is the highest-paid coach in the Sun Belt Conference.

Napier’s total pay also is the 88th-highest among the 122 FBS programs providing information to USA TODAY (not all private schools and organizations are legally required to do so).

No coaches of Power 5 programs make less than Napier.

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But 23 coaches from other Group of Five programs make more — all 10 reporting in the American Athletic Conference, topped by South Florida’s Charlie Strong at $5 million; six of 12 in the Mountain West, led by Wyoming’s Craig Bohl at $2,137,000; six of 13 reporting in Conference USA, topped by Seth Littrell of North Texas at $1,865,500; and just one in the MAC, Toledo’s Jason Candle at $1.15 million.

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney leads the list at $9,315,600, followed by Alabama’s Nick Saban at $8,857,000; Coastal Carolina’s Chadwell, a first-year head coach, brings up the rear.

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Among head coaches of FBS programs in Louisiana, Napier ranks in the middle: behind LSU’s Ed Orgeron ($4 million) and Tulane’s Willie Fritz ($1,162,000), but ahead of Louisiana Tech’s Skip Holtz ($704,000) and ULM’s Viator.

The USA TODAY total pay figure includes base salary — from both the school and, in Napier’s case, the Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Foundation — and deferred payments earned annually.

It does not include standard university benefits or potentially taxable items including automobile allowance and the value of game tickets.

Napier also earned the highest amount of incentive-based bonus pay last season, $75,000, among all coaches still in the Sun Belt this season, according to the USA TODAY data.

His buyout total of $3,000,520 as of Dec. 1, 2019 — the amount UL would have to pay if it fired its coach at the conclusion of the regular season — also is the highest in the Sun Belt, with App State’s Drinkwitz next-closest at $1,735,417.

Earlier this year UL added one season to Napier’s original five-year contract with the school. It now runs through the conclusion of the 2023 season.

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Napier’s 5-2 Cajuns are idle this week and return to action Nov. 2 against Texas State at Cajun Field.

They finished 7-7 in his first season in charge at UL, winning the Sun Belt’s West Division, losing at Appalachian State in the inaugural SBC championship game and losing to Tulane at the 2018 Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

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