Boyn­ton re­mains fru­gal de­spite salary spike

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

Sit­ting in­side his Gal­lagherIba Arena of­fice, one he thinks is big­ger than it needs to be, Mike Boyn­ton looked at his out­fit for the day.

The Ok­la­homa State bas­ket­ball coach wore a black OSU polo fea­tur­ing black-and-gray stripes on the sleeves with a sin­gu­lar or­ange stripe near the cuff. It was one of Boyn­ton’s first pur­chases when he be­came an OSU as­sis­tant more than two years ago.

“I wear it prob­a­bly once a week,” Boyn­ton said. “There’s like five shirts in my closet, man.”

He wasn’t wear­ing his belt, a rar­ity for him, given that time has made the leather ragged and worn. His wife, Jenny, has told him it’s ac­cept­able to buy a new one.

“It’s the belt I like,” Boyn­ton said. “I know ex­actly where the hole is.”

Since com­ing to Stillwater, Boyn­ton’s yearly salary has gone from $125,000 as a Brad Un­der­wood as­sis­tant to $1 mil­lion as a first-time head coach to $1.6 mil­lion af­ter the pur­suit of what would’ve been a sur­pris­ing NCAA Tour­na­ment bid. But with his shirts, belt and $6 sil­i­cone wed­ding band as ev­i­dence, Boyn­ton said the fi­nan­cial el­e­ment of his job is se­condary.

“This is gonna sound crazy, and I hope it doesn’t come across the wrong way: I think money’s over­rated,” he said. “I mean, it doesn’t re­ally mean a whole lot to me.”

The mind­set, Boyn­ton said, stems par­tially from a New York child­hood where money wasn’t ever-present but he never felt he lacked any­thing. His life has al­ways been more about relationships, and his abil­ity to con­nect with peo­ple went a long way in ath­letic di­rec­tor Mike Holder cir­cling him as the top choice to re­place Un­der­wood in March 2017.

It took about 10 days af­ter Boyn­ton was an­nounced as Un­der­wood’s re­place­ment for he and Holder to dis­cuss salary. When Holder ap­proached him about it, Boyn­ton brushed the topic aside.

“I re­ally don’t want to talk about salary,” Boyn­ton told his boss. “It’s not im­por­tant to me. What­ever you pay me is gonna be more money than I’ve ever made in my life, and I would do it for much less than what­ever you’re gonna pay me.”

Boyn­ton and Holder even­tu­ally agreed on a five-year, $6 mil­lion con­tract. Af­ter Boyn­ton led the Cow­boys to a 21-15 record, an NIT quar­ter­fi­nals ap­pear­ance, and pro­gram records for vic­to­ries at home and over top-10 teams, he re­ceived a sixyear ex­ten­sion worth $11.475 mil­lion. His $1.6 mil­lion salary next sea­son will be the low­est in the Big 12.

Even with that in­come in­crease, Boyn­ton does not re­call any wild ex­pen­di­tures. He got Jenny some jew­elry for her birth­day. His con­tract in­cluded a car, so there was no need to buy one. He’s made sure in­sur­ance poli­cies are set up for his fam­ily of four should some­thing hap­pen to him.

Boyn­ton and Jenny bought a new Stillwater home shortly af­ter he be­came the head coach, but he fig­ures he uses only two rooms: the liv­ing room and the bed­room.

The ben­e­fits of the house come when his play­ers visit.

“I get no greater joy than just hav­ing our guys come over,” Boyn­ton said. “They’re like, ‘Man, this is awe­some,’ and, ‘I’d like to have this,’ and I can go back like, ‘This is by work, and you can do it. There’s no rea­son why you can’t.’”

Boyn­ton even con­sid­ers the best job he’s taken to be one that came with a $17,000 pay cut.

When Boyn­ton left his post as a Coastal Carolina as­sis­tant to be­come the as­so­ciate head coach at Wof­ford, his salary dropped from $63,000 to $46,000, and his Wof­ford con­tract didn’t in­clude a car and phone as it had at Coastal. But he greatly en­joyed work­ing un­der coach Mike Young. Leav­ing Wof­ford, even though it was to coach at his alma mater of South Carolina for dou­ble the salary, crushed him.

Boyn­ton, though, knows it put him on the best path to ac­com­plish his goals, which have never in­cluded a few ex­tra dol­lars, or even a new belt.

[PHOTO BY MITCHELL ALCALA, FOR THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Ok­la­homa State bas­ket­ball coach Mike Boyn­ton, who has gone from mak­ing $125,000 in his first year in Stillwater to $1.6 mil­lion this up­com­ing sea­son, said he be­lieves money is “over­rated.”

Nathan Ruiz nruiz@ ok­la­homan.com

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