Plucking a respected strength coach from the NFL ranks apparently didn’t come cheap for Indiana.
And it is clear that head coach Tom Allen would like to maintain the momentum established in his program by the outgoing staff.
Nicole Auerbach of the Athletic reported that new Indiana senior assistant athletic director for football performance Aaron Wellman is going to make $700,000 per year. While that figure has not been disclosed by IU, if accurate it could make Wellman the third highest strength coach in all of college football, behind only behind only Ohio State’s Mickey Marotti ($801,150) and Iowa’s Chris Doyle ($800,200).
A Ligonier, Ind. native, Wellman began his career with the Indiana football program. From 1997-98, Wellman was a graduate assistant with the Hoosiers, and from 1998-01, he was the assistant strength & conditioning coach at IU.
Wellman replaced fellow IU alum David Ballou, who along with athletic performance coach Matt Rhea left for Alabama.
Ballou made $400,000 per year at Indiana after receiving a raise in 2018. Rhea made $375,000. Their salaries at Alabama have not been reported or made public by the school. Ballou replaced Scott Cochran in Tuscaloosa who earned $595,000 in 2019.
While the amount reportedly being paid to Wellman might seem a bit disproportionate for Indiana, there are possible explanations.
First, it is clear that Allen places a premium on the role.
“The guy leading that weight room is the No. 2 guy in your program in terms of culture because he spends the most amount of time with the players,” Allen said in a story on the school’s site.
Indiana got a lot of recruiting traction with Ballou and Rhea, and obviously the pair played a role in the Hoosiers’ 8-5 season in 2019.
Moreover, the salary that is reportedly being paid to Wellman could be a consolidation of Ballou and Rhea’s salaries. Most college programs do not have a second strength staff member with a salary that so closely approximates the top guy.
Wellman also has the background that commands top dollar in the business. He comes to Indiana from the NFL, where he spent the past four seasons as the strength & conditioning coach for the New York Giants. He also has previous strength coach experience in the Big Ten as he served in that capacity at Michigan from 2011-14.
While with the Giants, Wellman drew praise for bringing technological advances to the team including the use of GPS trackers and drones. The Giants also saw a significant reduction in injuries while following Wellman’s programs.
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