The story on how LAUSD coaches will get first raises since 1999

The Lincoln High Tigers take the field for a home game against Franklin.
The Lincoln High Tigers take the field for a home game against Franklin.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

For more than two decades, coaches in the Los Angeles Unified School District have worked for stipends so low they’d joke they were earning 10 cents or less for every hour worked. The last time they got a raise was 1999 when the minimum wage was $5.75 and their highest stipend was $2,811.

“I made more money when I had a paper route,” Eagle Rock football coach Andy Moran said.

Nothing changed for 22 years.

Then word came out earlier this month that LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles have agreed in negotiations for stipends to be doubled immediately. Football coaches will receive $5,622. Basketball, baseball and soccer coaches will go from $2,512 to $5,024. Athletic directors will go from $5,622 to $11,244.


It’s a historic agreement that could help attract and retain coaches, according to Trent Cornelius, the district’s athletics coordinator who spent seven years of lobbying to help get coaches what he called a “long overdue” raise.

Why did it take so long to push through a raise?

LAUSD coaches are getting their first raise since 1999.

“The obstacles have been multifaceted,” Cornelius said. “The main obstacle is coaches don’t coach for money. They do it for the love of it. Even with the raise, it’s still not their profession. The increase is not life changing. If they have a job somewhere else, they have to maintain it.”

Cornelius said coaches haven’t been able to mobilize to present their case because a majority are walk-ons and not teachers. Coaches were once required to be teachers. Now more than 60% aren’t teachers. UTLA represents teachers and representing coaches has never been a priority.

Cornelius, through five superintendents since being hired to run the LAUSD athletics program in 2013, has tried to pass along the importance of interscholastic sports and coaches on campuses.

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“We have people in powerful places who see the benefits what interscholastic athletics has done in the lives of students,” he said.

The Board of Education agreed to the raises in March and after months of negotiations and budget reviews, agreement was finalized.

“The goal is to get as many kids playing sports as possible and we hope with the increase we can get higher-character coaches to improve that,” Cornelius said.

There was a drop in sports participation last school year because of COVID-19 protocols, especially because schools dropped lower-level teams. Cornelius said district administrators know that sports participation can help with student attendance, improved grade-point averages and discipline on campuses.

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“The increase is a level of respect for the work they do, and we hope some who have history with L.A. Unified will see there’s a level of respect for what they do and hope they want to stay or come back or get started,” Cornelius said. “We want to get people motivated to take part in sports.”