The reaction to news that Lake Travis football coach Hank Carter was Texas’ highest paid coach was predictably met with shock, scorn and even outright indignation. That’s understandable in a state where the average high school teacher’s salary is more than $100,000 less annually. Still, it belies a more bottom-line truth: Even at an eye-watering $155,000 per year, Hank Carter’s contract is cheap at the cost.
Yes, Carter represents good value for Lake Travis despite his high price tag. In fact, he’s a remarkably good value. Just consider the financials:
- Lake Travis hosts five home football games per year at its home stadium, which has a capacity of 7,000. Even if one writes off a total of 1,200 tickets for each game to comped seats for band, drill team and cheerleaders for both teams, that leaves a total of 5,800 tickets for sale for each game.
- No, the Cavaliers don’t sell out every game (though they do sell out some). So, let’s assume that Lake Travis hosts 4,000 paying fans for each game, which would leave 1,800 empty seats, just as a conservative measure.
- Lake Travis football season tickets sell at three different rates: $35 (general admission), $90 (reserved bench seating) and $140 (reserved chairback seating). If — and this is a major assumption — 2,000 of the school’s season tickets are sold at the cheapest rate, with the other 2,000 split between the $90 and $140 rate, that would drive a total of $300,000 in annual ticket revenue.
So, a coach with an annual salary of $155,000 is responsible for driving a minimum of $300,000 in annual revenue. That leaves $145,000 to pay for assistant coach salaries and additional expenses, but also comes before any funds raised by the school’s rather significant booster club are factored in. Those funds alone often subsidize the head coach’s salary, sometimes offsetting it in its entirety.
And what inspires such dedicated fundraising from booster clubs? Success on the field, something Carter has achieved in spades with the Cavaliers. In five years leading the program, Carter’s teams are 91-11 with three state titles. Those are the kind of results that can inspire an open checkbook from donors.
Put the entire football-related revenue puzzle together, and Carter’s $155,000 salary seems downright reasonable. Eye-popping, possibly even tone deaf, but reasonable.