Despite No Season, UMass Amherst Will Pay Its Football Coaches

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There won’t be any football for the fans to watch this year, so what does that mean for UMass Amherst’s coaching staff? Will coaches still be getting paid?


Not paying them to not coach this season was never on the table.

For head football coach Walt Bell, who is in his second year of a five-year contract where he was set to earn $625,000 per season. Instead, he is set to earn $562,500 this year. He and many other coaches across the athletic department took pay cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In Bell’s case, it was a 10 percent pay cut, saving the department $62,500. 

Overall, coaches taking pay cuts saved the department $400,000 this year, assistant athletic director Matt Houde told New Boston Post in an email message on Friday.

“We are still paying our coaches because they are all under contract and hence we are obligated by law,” Houde wrote. 

Houde also said that being a coach in the UMass athletic department is a year-round commitment, so Bell and the rest of the coaching staff have plenty of work to do, even if the team isn’t playing any games.

 “Lastly, even though we may not be playing a schedule this fall, our football coaches are still heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of our program:  checking academics for each student-athlete, player development in strength and conditioning, engaged in the recruiting process to sign our 2021 class, etc,” Houde wrote.

The Minutemen, a Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision team, meaning at the highest level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, competed independent of any conference last year and went 1-11. At the end of the season, they were ranked 129th out of 130 Division 1 FBS teams by CBS Sports. The only team behind them was Akron, whom they beat.

Even so head coach Walt Bell is devastated the season got cancelled this year.

“I’ll tell you guys the same way I told my players,” Bell told The Athletic earlier this week. “You know, my dad passed away in 2008; my biological mom OD’d in 2012. And to be honest with you, this is probably a tougher day than both of those days.”

Financially, UMass’s athletic department is a net drain for the university. 

Last winter, UMass Amherst provided New Boston Post with a copy of its fiscal year 2019 athletics budget.

The report showed the athletic department took in $9,779,889 in student fees and $19,505,048 from university funding — a combined 76.4 percent of its operating budget. Conversely, the athletic department raised $7,440,418 on its own to help cover the $38,394,795 annual operating budget. Additionally, the athletic department received a combined $2,035,115 in athletic subsidies from the NCAA and the conferences it participates in:  Atlantic 10 for basketball and Hockey East for hockey.

That means the athletic department at UMass Amherst alone cost students and taxpayers about $29.3 million last year. 

That loss is about double the average for a typical Division 1 school. The average annual net loss for Division 1 athletic departments with football teams in 2016 was $14.4 million.

Although it’s not a financially independent athletic department, Minutemen athletic director Ryan Bamford told New Boston post in a telephone interview last winter that it was a “worthwhile endeavor.”

“We look at the athletics department as the front porch of this institution where we can really drive people to the university and show them all of the successful things that are happening on campus,” he said. “It’s a great source of pride for us. We look at the subsidy we receive, whether it’s from the NCAA or the school and we try to be good stewards of those resources no matter where it’s coming from.”