Extended-month contracts help some high school football coaches

Extended-month contracts help some high school football coaches

July 3rd, 2012 by Lindsey Young in Sports - Preps

Ridgeland High School head football coach Mark Mariakis

Ridgeland High School head football coach Mark Mariakis

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

It's the Holy Grail of high school coaching supplements -- though, technically, it isn't a stipend -- and to get it, a person better know football.

The extended-month contract, regularly given to principals and assistant principals, can mean several thousand dollars in extra earnings. Such contracts often are part of the financial packages given to head football coaches.

Not every school system, including Hamilton County, offers them to coaches, and those who get them understand their value.

"To me, it's just part of the financial package here," said Ridgeland football coach Mark Mariakis, who is on an 11-month contract. "It really doesn't factor into the amount of hours a coach is going to work. You're going to work as long as it takes to get the job done. Now, it does make a difference financially. That extra month adds quite a bit to your salary."

Football head coaches in Georgia's Walker and Catoosa counties get 200 days of pay instead of the regular contract of 180 days. Offensive and defensive coordinators in those counties receive 190 days.

A coach earning $50,000 for a 180-day contract will make an extra $5,500 for a 200-day deal. That's in addition to the set supplement that ranges from $5,000 to $17,000 in northwestern Georgia

The extended contracts are given to football coaches because, like a school's administration, they do not have an offseason. Between field maintenance duties and overseeing summer workouts, there's very little down time.

"To me, football coaches and principals usually get the [extended] contracts because you can't shut down a school or a football program for any part of a school year," Dade County football coach Bradley Warren, who does not now get an extended contract but has in past stops, said recently. "You constantly have to work. For example, I was on the tractor mowing for four hours today and I still need to trim. I have to now get cleaned up and be back at the school by 6 for workouts."

Added Mariakis: "I think most systems do recognize the amount of time all sports require, especially football. Football coaches also have to manage many more kids than in other sports, and, believe me, that does make a difference. The job never ends -- you never turn it off -- but I love it and wouldn't change it."

Simply put, football coaches make more money because the more successful a program is the more money is earned through gate receipts, money that can be spread around to help a school's smaller programs. High school football is such big business in some states -- Texas, for one -- that some schools are offering three-year guaranteed 12-month contracts.

Additionally as the athletic director at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, head football coach Todd Windham is well aware of the time his coaches put in. Though he also receives an 11-month contract and knows all too well the summer hours involved in football, he also sees coaches in several other sports working during what is supposed to be the offseason.

"It's not exclusive to football in working all year," Windham said. "Our coaches in baseball, basketball and even cheerleading are working all summer. It didn't used to be that way. I know when I was in high school 25 years ago the time demands on kids and coaches wasn't as great. But if you want to be successful today, you have to put the time in."

Catoosa County's coaching supplement package ranks near the bottom of northwest Georgia school systems, and the three high schools in the county have lost several coaches in recent years to better-paying jobs. Windham, for one, doesn't see things changing any time soon -- for his county and the surrounding ones.

"It's hard to talk about an increase in supplements right now when there are so many needs in the classroom and there are budget cuts nearly every year," he said. "But hopefully, when the economy recovers, we can look at that."

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6296.