PINE BELT, MS (WDAM) - Under the stadium lights, Friday nights in the fall are largely reserved for football in the Pine Belt. All that action on the gridiron has a lot of head coaches cashing in off the field.
Since it’s your money, we wanted to see how much of it local school districts pour into coaching supplements, which are paid to coaches for coaching duties. WDAM requested pay scales and supplement lists from public school district in the Pine Belt.
From the districts we did get information from, what we found is a variation of pay scales and many head football coaches who take on other well-paid positions within the district.
“If you’re going to get quality people, you’re going to have to pay them,” said Forrest County School District Superintendent Brian Freeman.
Freeman knows the importance of balancing athletics and academics with a public school budget. For his district, the head football coach, who is also the assistant principal, gets an $8,800 supplement, just for coaching football and taking on all the responsibilities that come with it.
“During the week you’re looking at 12-to-14-hour days and then on Friday nights it may be an 18-or-19-hour day,” said Freeman.
The highest supplement we found comes from the Hattiesburg Public School District at $38,965. That’s just to be the head coach, which does come with a lot of responsibilities. There’s also a $4,000 supplement given to the coach for being the athletic coordinator. According to the records, those two supplements are in addition to a teacher salary of $51,932 and an hourly bus driver rate of $12.86.
The morning we were set to interview Hattiesburg School Superintendent Robert Williams about that supplement, we were told something came up and he wouldn’t be available. Williams did release a statement.
“The goal of Hattiesburg Public School District is to educate all students by providing quality programming in academic areas, the arts and athletics. The goal is to have quality people in all areas," read the statement from Williams.
When it comes to Hattiesburg’s biggest rival, there’s a big difference in supplements, but not overall pay. The head football coach in Laurel makes an $11,500 supplement for being the coach and another $4,000 supplement for managing athletic transportation. When you factor in the $74,710 salary for also being the athletic director, the two coaches make about the same. Superintendent Toy Watts said that coaching supplement is based on several factors.
“Athletics teaches dedication, teamwork and perseverance, and for some of our students, it opens the door for college scholarships,” said Watts in a statement.
Supplements are determined by local districts and approved by school boards. When it comes to that football supplement though, for most districts, it’s much higher than any other coaching, advisement or academic position.
When asked whether the amounts may seem to promote athletics over academics, Freeman said there’s a bigger picture.
“I can see where some people think that, but I can also tell you that academics and athletics work hand-in-hand as well,” said Freeman.
Districts paying more than $10,000 for coaching supplements included Marion County at $12,000, Columbia at $12,000, Forrest County Agricultural High School at $10,000 and Petal anywhere between $13,688.80 and $19,988.80. For Freeman, in his district, he said it’s money well spent on coaches who help students perform on and off the field.
“The commitment is unbelievable that they do. They understand what the supplement is and they do the work and when they do that everybody wins,” said Freeman.
Below you can find pay scales and coaching supplements that WDAM received from the school districts.
Wayne County School District (Just pay scale)
Covington County School District (Just pay scale)
Out of 15 districts, four have yet to send us all the information we requested. Those districts are Covington County, Wayne County, West Jasper and East Jasper.