Despite coaching Belmont’s women’s basketball team to March Madness wins over Gonzaga University and the University of Oregon, head coach Bart Brooks made nearly $500,000 less than men’s head coach Casey Alexander.
From July 2021 to May 2022, Alexander was paid an estimated $942,280 while Brooks received an estimated $444,144, according to Belmont University’s 2021 IRS 990 form.
With both the men's and women's 2023-24 basketball seasons beginning Monday, the Belmont Vision – using publicly available documents – took a deep dive into the pay of the two coaches.
The form, which is publicly available here, details how the university operates financially, including much more than coaches’ salaries, such as the university’s debt and revenue values.
But there is a significant disparity between Belmont’s two head basketball coaches when compared to each other, and when compared to other coaches in the Missouri Valley Conference.
When Brooks was hired by Belmont in 2017 after being an assistant at DePaul University, details of his contract were not released.
The first time his salary appears is in Belmont’s 2019 tax form.
His salary was listed as $276,708.
Compare that to Alexander, whose five-year, $4 million contract was easily available online as soon as the university picked him to replace legendary coach Rick Byrd in 2019.
The disparity in salaries is not unique to Belmont. Nationally, coaches of men’s basketball teams make more than the coaches of women’s basketball teams, regardless of team performance.
“Compensation for all members of our coaching staff is a complicated matter that is influenced by a number of factors, including years of experience, performance reviews and revenue generation (fundraising, licensing, NCAA distributions, sponsorships, etc.),” said Scott Corley, vice president and director of athletics, in a written statement.
“At this time, men’s basketball generates the vast majority of revenue for Belmont University,” he said.
But this raises a question as to why men’s basketball generates more.
The answer may lie in attendance figures and revenue.
The difference in overall attendance for men’s 2021-22 home games was 27,942 compared to the women’s attendance of 12,679, according to both teams’ 2021-22 basketball statistics.
For the 2022-23 season, the women’s team played eight home games to crowds of less than 1,000. The men’s team only played one game to a crowd of less than 1,500 – its 30-point win over Division II Trevecca Nazarene University.
Even when the women’s team hosted No.7 Louisville, which had the highest attendance at 1,840 fans, that game would be the second-least attended men’s home game.
This 15,000-fan difference partly led to a $769,000 difference in revenue between the teams, according to U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Data Analysis.
Despite what these numbers may say, sophomore Shae South doesn’t believe that there should be a near $500,000 difference in salaries.
South attended nearly every Belmont men’s and women’s basketball game and saw first-hand how successful both teams were in the MVC.
“I don’t see there being any reason for the difference to be that large. I would understand a smaller gap in pay based on something like experience, but not a $500,000 gap,” South said. “Both teams have incredible coaching staff who have incredibly competitive teams and performed very well their first year in a new conference.”
Sophomore Kiernan Tellier said he believes Belmont’s women’s basketball team should gain more recognition for its success, including equal pay for its coaches.
“The women’s team should get the same amount of attendance and respect as the men’s team. I went to those games and thought about their toughness and success,” Tellier said. “If two coaches have a great team that does well, they should be paid equally whether it’s a women’s or men’s team. The players work hard to be successful, and it starts with the coach.”
But another issue with Belmont’s pay lies in the revenue of its conference.
The 2022 MVC men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments, which Belmont is now a part of, display this revenue difference as the entire men’s tournament made $614,000 more than the women’s, according to the conference’s Form 990.
In the 2021-22 season, Belmont played in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Tax filings were not available for the specific tournament revenue, but one Belmont team had a stellar performance.
The men’s team lost in a close game to Morehead State University in the semifinals while the women’s team defeated Tennessee Tech to win the OVC tournament.
They then went on to play in the NCAA Tournament where they beat Oregon before losing in a close second-round game to the University of Tennessee.
The men’s team did not make the NCAA Tournament.
Both coaches were praised by Corley, who said the university was “blessed beyond measure to have coaches of the caliber of Casey Alexander and Bart Brooks.”
The Vision reached out to university communications to interview both Brooks and Alexander in person for this story, but those requests were denied.
Instead, the Vision received the written statement from Corley, who said both coaches have “built incredible teams, fostered a winning culture and provided the kind of integrity, character and servant-hearted approach that are at the heart of who Belmont is.”
“We are honored and privileged to have them leading our men’s and women’s basketball teams.”
But how do Alexander and Brooks’ salaries compare to other coaches in the MVC and in the Nashville area?
Alexander’s salary made him the highest paid men’s basketball coach in the MVC.
The only coach close to his pay is Bradley University’s Brian Wardle, who made $854,836, according to Bradley’s Form 990.
Darian DeVries, who coached Drake University to 18- and 14-point wins over Belmont in the 2022-23 season, made $276,699 less than Alexander, according to Drake’s tax documents.
Compared to other universities in Nashville, Alexander made $2.25 million less than Vanderbilt University’s Jerry Stackhouse, which is expected since Vanderbilt is part of the Southeastern Conference, which generated $721.8 million, according to the SEC.
But Alexander does have a $600,000 difference over his successor at Lipscomb University, Lennie Acuff, according to Lipscomb’s 2021 Form 990.
Most men’s coaches appeared in their universities’ Form 990s or could be found in state salary databases.
Many women’s coaches were either difficult to find or did not appear at all because the coaches were not among the highest paid employees at their schools.
Using the information available for women’s coaches, Belmont again has the highest-paid coach in the MVC as Brooks made roughly $144,000 more than the next highest paid women’s coach, Amaka Aguga-Hamilton of Missouri State, according to Aguga-Hamilton's contract with the university.
Missouri State’s new coach, Beth Cunningham, who replaced Aguga-Hamilton, recently signed a contract starting at $320,000 and increasing each year by $10,000.
Trying to compare Brooks’ salary to schools in the Nashville area proved difficult as the salaries of Lipscomb and Vanderbilt’s coaches did not appear on their respective Form 990s.
The discrepancy in pay between men and women’s basketball coaches is emblematic of college sports.
A study led by Wayne State Professor Scott Hirko uncovered that between 2014-2021, the average salary for a men’s coach for sports in the five largest conferences grew at a rate of 55%, while women’s salaries in the five conferences only grew 33%.
The average women’s coaches’ salaries for all sports went from $3.9 million to $5.1 million while the average men’s coaches’ salaries for all sports rose from $12.2 million to $18.9 million.
Ten NCAA women’s basketball coaches made over $1 million with only three coaches making over $2 million, according to Front Office Sports, an organization focused on the finances of sports.
Kim Mulkey, who just won a national championship for Louisiana State University, is the highest paid women’s basketball coach in history after signing a 10-year, $36 million contract.
Her record-breaking $3.15 million for the 2023-24 season, however, puts her at No. 32 on the men’s list.
Some of these salary numbers come from news outlets or from contracts released by the university and may only include base salary and not any added bonuses or additional compensation.
This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer