Boynton remains frugal despite salary spike
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.
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.”