Four Midlands high school football coaches are among the highest paid in the state, according to a survey conducted by The State.
Dutch Fork’s Tom Knotts, Irmo’s Reggie Kennedy, Airport’s Kirk Burnett and River Bluff’s David Bennett are ranked in the top 10 of the state’s highest paid football coaches and athletics directors. All four have dual roles as both coaches and athletics directors.
Knotts and Kennedy, both employed by Lexington-Richland District 5, make $106,214 per year. Burnett is eighth at $101,818 and Bennett is ninth at $100,760.
Bennett is stepping away from his position as River Bluff coach and athletics director to concentrate full-time as the Director of Athletics for the Lexington 1 school district.
The State, through the Freedom of Information Act, requested salary information for coaches receiving $50,000 or more for coaching and teaching duties from 81 public school districts, as well as the S.C. Independent Schools Association. SCISA is a private organization and didn’t respond to the surveys.
Ten athletics directors or coaches make at least $100,000 or more per year, with four from the Midlands and four in Anderson County.
Westside and T.L. Hanna High, both located in Anderson County School District Five, have their coaches and athletics directors in the top 10. Westside athletics director Rayvan Teague is the highest paid coach or athletics director in the state with a salary of $109,852. Westside football coach Scott Earley, who previously coached at Chapin and Lexington, ranks fifth at $102,728.
Others earning more than $100,000 per year are Spartanburg coach Chris Miller ($105,590) and Conway coach Chuck Jordan ($102,215)
“Like the old saying goes, much has been given, much is required. There are a lot of expectations to go along with,” Earley said. “It has come a long way since I got started in it. Back then, first day of practice would be something special. Now, it is another day and it has become almost a 365-days-a-year business. We give them a couple weeks off at Christmas and over spring break and we are at it almost every day.”
Unlike Earley’s other stops at Chapin and Lexington, he doesn’t have head athletics director duties, which can be time consuming in the months outside of football season. Still, Earley has his share of other responsibilities. He has a couple weightlifting classes and is in the community generating fundraising for the program. He tries to get sponsors for the scoreboard and help raise money for trips like the ones they took this summer for 7-on-7 passing leagues throughout the Southeast.
“You’ve got to be out there shaking hands, speaking to groups, making sure businesses are part of your program. I love doing that,” Earley said.
Earley credits Anderson County District Five superintendent Tommy Wilson with his commitment and willingness to pay the district’s coaches and athletics directors. T.L. Hanna football coach Bruce Ollis and athletics director John Cann also make more than $100,000 per year.
Wilson came to Anderson County after spending the majority of his career in Georgia, where coaches’ salaries commonly are the $100,000 range. According to FirstCoastNews.com report, 22 high school coaches make more than $100,000 per year. Buford’s Jess Simpson leads that list at $174,107.65.
It’s the same across the country as well. According to the Houston Chronicle, 20 coaches in the Houston area make more than $98,000 a years with 14 topping $100,000. The top five coaches all come from the Houston suburb of Katy, according to the survey.
“Our desire is to have the highest paid coaches in the state. They understand the expectations as well,” Wilson said. “You get what you pay for. If you want a $60,000 coach, they are out there. When I came here from Georgia, I felt the athletics have been totally neglected. And I think the stronger athletics programs you have go hand in with strong academic and arts.”
Wilson said the school board gave him the reins to go out and sign off the hires of Earley and Teague, who he worked with in Georgia. Wilson said graduation rates have gone up as well as the performance of the teams on the field.
The school district also has benefited from the passage of the district’s penny sales tax, which is split among the county’s five districts. That money from the tax helped pay toward renovations and new facilities at Westside and T.L. Hanna. Westside is about to open a 12,500-square foot weight room, which will be opened for all athletes, and a new field house
“I never want a coach to leave the field saying, ‘If I only had this or that I could be successful,’ ” Wilson said. “It’s been well worth the investment.”
The six-figure club
S.C. football coaches or ADs making more than $100,000:
1. Rayvan Teague
2. Reggie Kennedy
3. Tom Knotts
Dutch Fork coach/AD
4. Chris Miller
5. Scott Earley
6. Chuck Jordon
7. Bruce Ollis
TL Hanna coach
8. Kirk Burnett
9. David Bennett
River Bluff coach/AD
10. John Cann
TL Hanna AD
How data was compiled
In a survey conducted this summer, The State’s new database contains the names and salaries of South Carolina high school head football coaches and athletic directors making $50,000 or more a year. The information was furnished by the school districts in response to S.C. Freedom of Information Act requests.