'There are a lot of attractive reasons to be at North Carolina, but I don’t think pay is one'
There are nine public schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Of those nine, North Carolina ranks dead last in assistant coaches' salaries.
It's not as if the Tar Heels can't afford it.
North Carolina ranked 25th in the NCAA for athletic department revenue in 2012 at $82,424,430. That was good enough for second in the ACC, trailing only Florida State. North Carolina ranks more than $12 million ahead of Clemson, the same Tigers that plunge nearly $4.2 million into their assistant salary pool.
Clearly, North Carolina can afford to pay their assistant coaches more than they do; they just choose not to.
“I think there are a lot of attractive reasons to be at North Carolina, but I don’t think pay is one that is a driver for us,” North Carolina athletics director Bubba Cunningham told the Daily Tar Heel. According to Cunningham, the culture around campus in Chapel Hill dictates a conservative salary strategy for coaches and faculty alike.
According to the USA Today Assistant Coaches' Salary Database, six of Larry Fedora's assistants made $250,000 in 2013, tied for 30th in the ACC. Eight of Clemson's nine full-time assistants made more than that.
North Carolina lost three assistant this off-season, offensive coordinator Blake Anderson to the head job at Arkansas State, running backs coach Randy Jordan to the same position with the Washington Redskins, and tight ends coach Walt Bell to a spot on Anderson's staff at Arkansas State. Bell was the ACC's lowest-paid assistant according to USA Today, making $120,000 in 2013.
North Carolina's new offensive coordinator hire, Seth Littrell, made $356,500 at Indiana last season. Littrell declined to offer his salary upon arriving in Chapel Hill - details have not been released - but it's clear to see he didn't leave Bloomington for the money.
“It’s not as much about the money, and that’s not talk — that’s reality,” Littrell said. “To me, it’s about coming in and working in a place and an environment that you feel like you can be successful and enjoy.”