It is very good to be a successful football coach at a school where people care too much about that sort of thing. According to a report from AL.com, Nick Saban sold his Tuscaloosa home to a Bama booster club, and still lives there while the boosters pay the property taxes.
The sale was closed in March of 2013, two months after Alabama won its third national championship under Saban. The Crimson Tide Foundation, a nonprofit fundraising group for Alabama athletics, paid $3.1 million for the house, compared to the $2.9 million the Sabans bought it for six years earlier.
The home, which Saban and his wife, Terry, bought in 2007 when they came to the university, was purchased by the Crimson Tide Foundation in March 2013. The Sabans continue to live in the 8,759-square-foot home, and the foundation has paid the property taxes on the home since the purchase.
"It's not all that unusual in the world for universities to provide the housing," said Scott Phelps, assistant secretary of the foundation. "We want to keep him happy. We think he is the best coach in America."
Phelps said the money for the home purchase came from the foundation's general fund.
The timing is at least worth noting. Two months before the sale was closed, Saban's agent was conducting negotiations with Texas, which reportedly offered Saban a $100 million deal to take the Longhorns job. But rumors of UT's overtures didn't leak publicly until Sept. 2013. It's not clear when Alabama administrators learned of the talks with Texas.
Two months after the Crimson Tide Foundation purchased Saban's Tuscaloosa home, he put his Georgia vacation house on the market for $10.9 million.
Allowing boosters to pay for a coach's housing is totally and specifically allowed under NCAA rules. (Allowing boosters to buy a player a hamburger is a violation.) Maybe laying out $3.1 million for a house for a coach who makes more than twice that annually isn't the best look—I'm sure the Alabama faculty could think of a few departments that could use a donation that size—but you can understand why the Crimson Tide Foundation would do this. If luring and retaining a coach is the most important element of winning, it'd be foolish to let coach compensation be limited by his contract.