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Berry Tramel: OU paying Lon Kruger $2.2 million is cents-less

by Berry Tramel Published: April 3, 2011

OU athletic director Joe Castiglione helps set the marketplace in football, since in Stoops he employs one of the faces of the sport.

But in basketball, the Sooners are just following along.

“It's the marketplace,” Joe C. said. “We understood the marketplace.” If OU sought a certain level of coach, “we had to understand what it might take.”

Castiglione said he informed president David Boren and the regents that the stakes had risen. If they wanted a coach of Kruger's caliber, a proven winner with a pristine reputation, he wouldn't come cheap.

Kruger now ranks No. 3 among Big 12 coaches in salary, behind KU's Bill Self and Barnes. Missouri's new hire could supplant Kruger, I suppose, and some coaches aren't far behind. Oklahoma State's Travis Ford makes $1.8 million and Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon $1.6 million.

“I know people will point to compensation,” Castiglione said. “He's being compensated for the quality of coach he really is. His pedigree commands that level of compensation.”

Joe C. offered this comfort: OU did not agree to a contract beyond its mean. The Sooners will be able to pay,

The money doesn't all come from athletic department coffers. Broadcast partners help out. Equipment agreements, like with Nike. Other endorsements and sponsorships. Coaches are asked to do more than ever for those big salaries, and most universities collect all the money and dole it out to the coach.

Heck, some of the money comes from fundraising done by the coaches themselves.

So these contracts don't necessarily bankrupt an athletic department. But can we agree that no way do these contracts pay for themselves?

OU basketball does not generate enough profit to warrant a $2.2 million coach. Neither does Texas basketball or Florida basketball or most any other basketball.

They pay that money to get or keep the coach they want, because of an artificial market.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

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