Alaska Trends


ollege sports are big business. The heftiest public employee salary in forty states goes to a college football coach. In its annual analysis, USA Today found the fifty highest paid state employees nationwide in 2021 were coaches of college football or basketball, all making seven figures. Looking at the top three in each state, more than half of the 150 coach football.

Alaska is unusual, not having any college football programs, so a different public employee drew the state’s top paycheck: $371,475 for the executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (abruptly dismissed last December, which some critics compared to firing a football coach during a winning season–but that’s a whole other story). An investment officer with the Permanent Fund was #3, and in between was a state prison psychiatrist at #2, which tracks with other states. In most places where football coaches aren’t in the top spot, the biggest public paycheck goes to an MD, either in a public health agency or medical school. Other than Alaska, the only exceptions are Rhode Island, where the state university president is paid the most, and Delaware, where the biggest paycheck goes to… the veterinarian for the Thoroughbred Racing Commission. Sports!

This edition of Alaska Trends springboards off Brad Joyal’s “Skating Uphill” about the suspension and revival of the UAA and UAF hockey teams. Looking at the most recent revenue and expense data for both schools’ athletics programs from 2020 is undoubtedly an outlier: UAF didn’t play hockey until last fall, and UAA is out of action until later this month. That’s one huge asterisk for all the data on these pages. There are other sports, though, and these numbers offer a peek behind the scenes.

On your marks, get set, go!

SOURCE: US Department of Education, Equity in Athletics Data Analysis
Since the ’30s the UAF sports mascot has been the polar bear. In 1963 the Polar Bears became known as the Nanooks, the Iñupiaq word for polar bear.
Sourdough Turned Seawolf
The UAA school teams were originally known as the Sourdoughs and the logo was a smiling gold panner. The moniker “Seawolves” was adopted in 1977, coinciding with UAA’s official membership in NCAA.
Revenue by Gender
Revenue by Gender circle graphs
Athlete Student Aid
The combined aid to student athletes from UAA and UAF in 2020 was $5M
Athlete Student Aid bar graph
2020 Game-Day Expenses
2020 Game-Day Expenses Bar Graph
For every $1 UAA spends on coaches,

UAF spends 65¢

Clipart of two figures holding stop watches
Figures separately playing basketball, ski, hurdle run, and volley ball.
4 Out of 11
UAA had 4 (Women’s Basketball, Skiing, Outdoor Track and Field, and Volleyball) out of 11 varsity level teams compete in 2020.
2020 Total Revenue
$7,837,362 was generated by UAA’s athletic program

$7,721,634 was generated by UAF’s athletic program

Total Operating Expenses
The team with the lowest expenses of all UAF’s teams is Track & Field
Total Operating Expenses Pie Chart
Clipart figure holding rifle and having a first place medal
UAF rifle squad has won
championships, the most ofany collegiate shooting team
Figure playing hockey
raised by UAA hockey boosters to spare the program for the 2022/2023 season