Missouri shows how schools pay a price for football success

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri’s search for the right football coach meandered through three fitful decades until finally, nine years ago, the Tigers came upon Gary Pinkel.
A No. 1 ranking, two Big 12 Conference divisional championships and five bowl appearances later, they are hellbent on hanging on to him.

That means pulling out the checkbook and ponying up. Keeping Pinkel well paid. Satisfying his assistants, too. Investing more heavily in facilities, support staff and the other accouterments that have become essential to life in college athletics’ fast lane.

A little less than a year ago, the school gave Pinkel a second contract extension and raise in three years and his third since he arrived at Mizzou in late 2000. His salary guarantee has more than quadrupled in that time, to $2.52 million this season. His assistants’ collective pay has more than doubled.

After turning around a program that had two winning seasons in 17 years before his arrival, Pinkel now is the fourth-highest paid coach in the Big 12. The coaches of the conference’s two bellwether programs, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Texas’ Mack Brown, are guaranteed a respective $4.303 million and $3 million this season. And a newly reworked contract brought Texas Tech’s Mike Leach to $2.7 million. The Big 12 average: $2.1 million.