Jenny Hansen coaches for Minnesota.

Four Head Coaches in Need of a Raise

Official practices have started, which means we’re getting ready to unveil our updated coaching salary database for the new competition season. It’s always striking to see salary disparities across conferences, and to see a lag between increased performance and raises. Keep in mind that coaches live in places with wildly varying cost of living: for example, Seattle is a lot pricier than Champaign.

We rounded up four coaches who we think have earned a raise, and two who recently cashed in on their successes.

Note that all contracts are structured slightly differently. For the purposes of this piece we only considered base salary, since benefits vary widely. 

Jenny Hansen, Minnesota

2023-2024 salary: $120,000

At a glance, Hansen’s salary looks solid. Consider, though, that she lives in a large metro area, and has coached her team to great success. Her recruiting has been stellar (Lexy Ramler and Mya Hooten, anyone?) and she led her squad to the national championships in 2022 for the first time since 2013. Her contract states, “salary increases for contract years three through
five [2023-2025] shall be made at the discretion of the AD.” All eyes on Mark Coyle, but since he cut the legendary men’s program we’re not holding our breath.

Jessie DeZiel, UW-Eau Claire

2023-2024 salary: $38,000

DeZiel has the lowest salary of head gymnastics coaches in the UW system. She’s also the newest coach, pending UW-Stout’s vacancy being filled. Even with that in mind, $38,000 is a difficult salary to live on regardless where in the country you are. Eau Claire, Wis. sits at just about the average American cost of living. Though DIII salaries are considerably, and understandably, lower across the board, a yearly salary under 40 seems harsh.

Jen Llewellyn, Washington

2023-2024 salary: $135,000

The cost of living is Seattle is outrageous. Housing costs are more than double the national average. While on its face Llewellyn’s salary is strong, it’s the equivalent of about $85,000 in Norman, Okla. or $80,700 in Columbus, Ohio. The Huskies are still in a building phase under her leadership, but it would be great to see them break through and have Llewellyn recognized for her hard work.

K.J. Kindler, Oklahoma

2023-2024 salary: $280,000

Hear us out. Yes, it’s a big number. Yes, she also receives an additional $120,000 annual income from private donor funds, bringing her to $400,000 before performance-based benefits and fringe benefits. However, she’s the winningest active coach and has done things with the Sooners that we haven’t seen since Georgia’s heyday. Oklahoma’s head football coach, Brent Venables, makes $7.25 million per year. The pigskin-toting Sooners were 6-7 last year and finished near the bottom of the Big 12. Sure, football compensation is in a whole different arena, but Oklahoma has made clear that it treats gymnastics seriously. Let’s see it in the numbers.

Coaches Who Got Their Bag

Two coaches saw big increases over the past few years, and it was well deserved. We love to see departments recognizing the value of gymnastics programs and compensating successful coaches.

Shannon Welker, Missouri

Salary Increase: $30,451.27

Welker inked a new contract in May 2022 that took him from $155,000.03 to $185,451.30. The new deal came on the heels of Missouri’s shocking upset of LSU at the Raleigh regional which earned them a spot in the regional final. The Tigers went on to defeat both UCLA and Iowa to head to Fort Worth. All that success resulted in Welker’s much needed increase, especially when is salary is put in the context of the rest of the SEC.

Mike Rowe, Michigan State

Salary Increase: $45,569

In July 2023, Rowe signed an amendment raising his base salary from $95,931 to $141,500. It isn’t outrageous that his initial contract was so low; he did step into the program in a time of turmoil with no head coaching experience. Since then, though, he’s led the program to historic success and has proven to be one of the best recruiters in the country. It’s good to see Spartans administrators recognize that, especially as a department that is constantly in a brouhaha [trigger warning on the first three links] over its revenue sports.

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Article by Emily Minehart. Additional compensation research by Daniel Rothwell and Jill Walsh.


  1. Your info on KJ’s salary is way off. She is now at almost a million guaranteed per year. She earns $650k ($300 base, $350 extra guaranteed “outside income,” which also comes direct from OU, just a different accounting process), plus an annual stay bonus of $200k for $850k before performance based pay. The University of Oklahoma is a public U so the records are all open. She makes more than their women’s basketball coach. She deserves it, but she is no way underpaid.


    Kindler made $658,667 without bonuses in 2022 and is on track to make at least $200k more than that in 2023:

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