President of the OU: Trajectory of the University, balance sheet secured after the departure of Riley | News

Despite a tumultuous week at the state’s flagship university, President Joe Harroz said Thursday he remains confident in the direction the University of Oklahoma is headed and believes this week’s difficulties will help the university in the future.

Harroz made it clear following Thursday’s OU board meeting that while the sudden departure of head football coach Lincoln Riley is a “road hit”, the The university is still on track financially, and he thinks Riley’s departure might actually help the university financially. News that Riley has accepted the head coaching job at USC broke on Sunday; OU has yet to name his permanent replacement.

“We have donors who are even more invigorated right now and more engaged,” Harroz said when asked if Riley’s departure will hurt the school financially. “So if we do that, okay, which I’m sure we’ll do, I think the answer to your question is no, and in fact in many ways I think we’ll come out stronger. “

While Riley’s departure prompted a strong backlash from fans and alumni this week, Harroz said the university is more than just a football team and can thrive despite the team’s struggles.

“I don’t know where you got the phrase ‘the sky is falling’ from – it’s not, we’re changing head coaches,” Harroz told reporters. “…There is no doubt that Sunday took us by surprise. We’ll take care of it. How are things going? I mean, (you’ve all) heard the agenda – it’s going really well, thanks to a lot of hard work and discipline. … But he’s a person, and we’re way bigger than that.

In the budget approved by the Regents in June, OU projected about $107 million in athletics revenue for fiscal year 2022, a return to pre-pandemic revenue normalcy. The budget forecast a net positive year for OU after several years of deficit, but at the cost of tuition and tuition hikes.

Harroz said there was no time to wait and the university must continue to move quickly to hire a new head coach. Harroz declined to give a timeline on when a new head coach will be announced.

At the Regents meeting, the board voted to approve a one-time $325,000 compensation package for Bob Stoops, who will lead the team on an interim basis. Getting Stoops to accept the money wasn’t easy, Harroz said — Stoops refused any form of payment twice, but ultimately Harroz said the university decided to pay him without his permission.

“I just want to say, (Stoops) turned him down twice, but the truth is, on every occasion we’ve gone to him over the years, he always does the right thing and steps in and comes forward. ,” Harroz said. “We didn’t take his ‘no’ answer seriously the first or second time, and then we just decided to stop asking.”

A financial question mark hanging over OU’s head is the salary it will offer its next head coach. Since salaries for college football coaches have risen dramatically since OU promoted Riley to head coach in 2017, the school will have to offer anyone who is missing out on a significant amount of money.

In 2020, Riley signed a five-year extension that would earn him $32 million over five years, or about $7.6 million a year. In a six-year contract approved this summer, head basketball coach Porter Moser has made at least $2.8 million a year.

“Before, there were one or two outlier salaries like that, and now there are more,” Harroz said. “There are so many changes happening in college sports right now that everyone is watching… We will continue, as long as possible, to be a self-sustaining program, which does not use student money, tuition fees and fees or state for a program, and we are committed to those two things and having a good coach — not a good coach, a great coach. And being competitive in the market is just the reality.

Marianne R. Winn