Gundy: Hold off on pay cuts

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy points to his staff on the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State, in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

STILLWATER, Okla. — While pay cuts have already been announced around the Big 12 Conference landscape, Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy is wanting to play the waiting game.

The Iowa State athletics department announced at the start of the month that there would be a pay cut for all coaches and administrators — a 10 percent cut across the board — and coaches elected to forfeit their bonuses for the next year.

On Thursday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed he, along with other conference staff, would be taking a 10 percent pay cut, too.

However, when Gundy was asked during an hour-long teleconference if there had been any discussion of that around OSU, he was noncommittal to the prospect of pay cuts.

“Well, I’m sure those discussions are taking place by people that have to make those decisions. I personally don’t want to get involved in that,” Gundy said. “It’s too early for me.

“So let’s see where we’re at in about six weeks before we start to get to a point where we have to make really, really drastic decisions. And that could happen. But I don’t want to instigate any ill will. I don’t want to instigate any negativity until we kind of know where we’re at. So in my opinion, let’s see where we’re at around the middle of May, early June, and then kind of get a feel for the medical community and in what they’re saying, before we start (discussing pay cuts for coaches).”

That was his stance when it came to paying coaches, after he mentioned the aspect of wanting plans made immediately on the stance of sports and college football recruiting.

It also came after his comments that made national waves about getting football players back on campus – even if their campus is closed and still doing distance learning in the fall – to “budget and run money through the state of Oklahoma.”

“Now, somebody might say, ‘Well, you just said that we need to start planning for certain things.’ I’m talking about planning for different scenarios. OK,” Gundy said. “The people that are putting the pencil to a budget, they should be working tirelessly, looking at the athletic department budgets, and starting to try to find out different ways that they can make cuts, not just say I’m going to make a 10 percent cut across the board.

“Let’s put a pencil to it, and let’s find out ways we can do it to where we try not to affect the economy, which is people’s salaries. When you start changing people’s salaries, then you’re magnified into the economy of the city, the county and the state. That’s the thing we don’t want to do now. Is it easy? No, it’s not. So for me, I’m gonna wait about six weeks. I’m gonna see where we’re at before I start to dive in something like that.”

Gundy made $5.1 million last season, which made him the 13th-highest paid coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Gundy’s assistant coaches combined for a $4.21 million in salary in 2019, which ranked 27th in the country and fourth in the Big 12 — behind Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa State.

OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles made more than most head coaches at OSU in 2019-20, with his $650,000 salary (per data from Oklahoma Watch) being surpassed by only men’s basketball coach Mike Boynton and baseball coach Josh Holliday.

Boynton is the only other head coach in Stillwater making seven figures. He made $1.725 million this past winter, which ranks 62nd among Division I basketball coaches, and is the lowest paid coach in the Big 12 by over half a million.

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Elmquist is sports editor for Stillwater News Press, a CNHI LLC publication.

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