By John Shinn
CNHI News Service
ARDMORE – Winning a national championship means a lot more money in the bank at Oklahoma. Softball coach Patty Gasso and her staff reaped the benefits Wednesday.
The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents approved huge pay raises for Gasso and assistant coaches Melyssa Lombardi and Tripp Mackay.
Gasso received a 40-percent bump in annual salary, from a previous figure of $215,000 to $350,000. The five-year deal she agreed to will escalate her salary by an additional $10,000 every year through the 2018 season. If Gasso is still OU’s coach on June 30, 2018, she will receive an additional $375,000.
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said Gasso’s raise wasn’t strictly based on OU winning the national championship earlier this month.
“She’s been with us 19 years and 19 years we’ve been in the NCAA tournament,” he said. “Her team has been ranked somewhere in the Top 25 every year that poll has been in existence. We’ve been consistently strong in the conference and generally battling for the conference title. We’ve played really well over the years in the NCAA tournament and had appearances in the College World Series more often than not. And we’ve played for the national championship the last two years and won it this year.
“There are a lot of strong programs in college softball, but Oklahoma really has to be the model program that people point to. She’s leading it and we’re grateful that she is.”
Lombardi received a 30-percent pay raise to $120,000. Mackay also picked up a 30-percent bump to $100,000.
The contracts of OU football coach Bob Stoops, men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger and women’s basketball coach Sherri Coale were not on the agenda. However, members of their staffs also received raises. Kruger’s assistants Steve Henson, Lew Hill and Chris Crutchfield and operations director Mike Shepard all received $10,000 raises. Coale’s assistants Jan Ross and Chad Thrailkill and operations director Guy Austin also received $10,000 bumps. Women’s assistant Pam DeCosta was awarded an additional $15,000.
Jozef Szendrei, strength coach for both basketball programs, received a $20,000 raise.
The only football-related contract reviewed was director of sports enhancement Jerry Schmidt. He received a 10-percent raise to $270,000. The rest of the football staff received raises in March.
Rowing coach LeeAnn Crain, women’s golf coach Veronique Drouin-Luttrell, men’s golf coach Ryan Hybl, volleyball coach Santiago Restrepo and men’s tennis coach John Roddick all had their contracts extended through the 2018 season along with raises of less than 10 percent.
AD has no timetable for baseball hire
ARDMORE – Oklahoma has been without a baseball coach for two weeks. OU athletics director Joe Castiglione isn’t ready to say when the void will be filled or when.
However, he told The Transcript having to replace Sunny Golloway didn’t catch him off guard.
“It’s a thing where I don’t know if it’s a surprise because you have to be somewhat prepared for it,” Castiglione said after the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents meeting concluded Wednesday morning at Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. “You’re managing people so you cannot predict every single thing. So, we are where we are.”
Golloway – who went 346-181-1 and guided OU to the College World Series in 2010, four Super Regionals and to the NCAA tournament eight times in nine years in the OU dugout – left for Auburn on June 14.
Castiglione wouldn’t comment on specific candidates to fill the void, but the applicants OU has vetted are in line with a program he expects to continue winning at a national level.
Money was a major factor in Golloway’s exit. The deal he agreed to will pay him about $250,000 more a year.
However, that doesn’t mean OU hasn’t or won’t continue to invest heavily in baseball. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Sooners spent $808,135 on the sport in 2012, which is the last year reported. The Big 12 Conference average was $553,447. What OU spent would’ve ranked fourth among SEC schools.
Castiglione said that has been a major factor among prospective coaches.
“They want to know,” he said. “For us, it’s not just an opportunity to sponsor baseball as one of our 21 sports. We want to be successful in every sport we sponsor. We try to allocate resources that would help all of our sports be successful.
“Part of it is driven by our monitoring other programs we consider comparable. Part of it is driven by the way things are here at the University of Oklahoma. Certainly, part of it is driven by the success we may have had and the success we want to have in the future, which relates to expectations.”
So, what kind of expectations does Castiglione have for OU baseball?
Opinions on Golloway varied, but he averaged more than 40 wins a season in a major conference, and OU is the only Big 12 team that has played in the NCAA tournament the last two years, much less the current streak of six.
Castiglione points to the $2 million in renovations done at L. Dale Mitchell Park and more that are planned as a major selling point. He also believes playing in the Big 12 is still a major attraction.
Golloway said one aspect that pushed him toward Auburn was the SEC’s ability to consistently put eight or more teams in the NCAA tournament. The Big 12 only had three bids – a record low – this past season.
“It really doesn’t come up,” Castiglione said.
Part of the problem this past year was the struggles of Texas, TCU and Baylor. Castiglione all pointed out the improvements at Kansas State and West Virginia as strengths for the Big 12.
“I actually think people realize this is going to be a really tough league for baseball,” he said. “This year was more of an anomaly than a trend. Everyone is investing in their baseball programs and everyone is trying to be good.”