To an outsider these salaries seem nothing less than absurd. Not because great sports coaches shouldn't be well compensated—Pep Guardiola makes close to $20 million annually at Manchester City—but because universities are generally seen as institutes of higher education and research, not sports. As a history professor at the University of Edinburgh put it: the $12 million that Fedora got as a going away present is more than the entire history department at UNC costs annually. So 32 professors that contribute to the university's primary goal—research and education—combined make about half what the football coach got. (To be fair, Fedora made $4 million per year, so the history department normally makes more than the football coach.)
People who make this argument, however, miss two crucial points. First of all, college sports generally do not make money, but are in fact a drain on a university's resources. Although college athletics is a $10 billion industry, there are only a few universities that actually turn a profit—UNC is not one of those. No matter how great a university sports team may be, they almost never generate the necessary revenue to actually fund themselves consistently. Even if teams perform well, the profits are not spectacular. College basketball may be a billion dollar industry, but that money goes to divisions first, not the succesful teams (Actually, it goes to the NCAA first, then the divisions, and then the teams). So when UNC won the NCAA Tournament in 2017, they had to share the $8 million in profits with fourteen other division members. Compare that to the $60 million Real Madrid made for winning the Champion's League.
A second point is that as fun as college sports are, universities are not in the business of entertainment. They are institutes of higher education. Their first goals should be high quality research and high quality teaching. It's hard to see how athletics make a contribution that justifies draining resources that could be allocated to either of these two goals. And while US universities are among the best in the world and have no trouble attracting billions in funding—Harvard has a $36 billion endowment!—they are also incredibly expensive to attend. Tuition at UNC will set you back well over $10,000 annually even if your a resident of North Carolina; if not, the costs will triple. This means that most students will have to go indo debt, deeply: after a four year undergraduate degree students owe on average more than $37,000 at a less than generous interest rate.