$400,000 suitable for Turner

$400,000 suitable for Turner

   CHAMPAIGN  Ron Turner didn''t fly in super agents Leigh Steinberg or Marvin Demoff. He didn''t have a gaggle of lawyers with him.

   No, the new University of Illinois head football coach handled contract negotiations by himself.

   So, how long did the talks take?

   "Thirty seconds," UI athletic director Ron Guenther said.

   "Just remember, I''m easy."

   On Thursday in Peoria, the UI Board of Trustees is expected to approve Turner''s five-year, $2 million deal.

   The contract calls for Turner to receive $150,000 base pay each year, $125,000 per year for radio and television and $125,000 annually for educational, public relations and promotional activities.

   Turner will also receive 90 percent of the net profit from the UI''s summer football camp.

   Turner''s $400,000 salary makes him the second-highest paid coach at the UI, trailing only men''s basketball coach Lon Kruger ($551,937).

   Former coach Lou Tepper''s $286,342 salary was among the lowest in the Big Ten. Turner''s deal moves the school up the list.

   But Turner isn''t worried about where he fits on the UI salary scale or among the other Big Ten head football coaches.

   "To me, the most important thing was going somewhere where you want to go, being happy and where they want you," Turner said. "I wouldn''t have gone somewhere if I didn''t feel it was the right situation because I was going to be paid more money."

   Money, Turner said, doesn''t rule his life.

   "I love this profession," Turner said. "I love football. I want to be a head coach at a great school. If they paid me $10,000 a year, I''d probably do it."

   His UI salary is the highest of Turner''s coaching career. It''s a long way from the $24,000 he made as a first-year assistant at Northwestern in 1981. Money wasn''t a big deal to him then, either.

   "I was excited because it was the first time I had a full-time job," Turner said. "I really didn''t care about the money. "

   When he agreed to the deal with Illinois, Turner didn''t rush off to the Mercedes store.

   "I''m definitely not going to do that," he said. "If I go out and splurge on anything, it will be something family-oriented."

   Family considerations are always an important part of contract talks, Turner said.

   "I''ve got four kids I want to take care of," Turner said. "As long as my wife (Wendy) and I are comfortable with the compensation, that''s all that matters to us."

   Guenther wants his coaches, in all sports, to be paid well.

   "My strategy, my plan, has been to get the very best coaches," Guenther said. "Leadership starts with the head coaches. To do that, the No. 1 priority for our department has been salaries. I want us to be in a competitive posture there.

   "Of all the last four (head coaching) hires, I thought I had a very good sense for what I call market value. What I wanted to make sure of is that as the coaches are hired, they feel good about what they''re being paid."

   Guenther said it''s also important for Illinois to be competitive with assistant coaches'' salaries. Collectively, seven new assistant football coaches will be paid more than the 1996 staff. The salary of Osia Lewis, who recently replaced O''Neill Gilbert as defensive ends coach, isn''t yet available.

   "The reality is you could hire a great head coach, and if he doesn''t have the wherewithal to put the very best assistant package together, we''re not going to go anywhere, either," Guenther said.

   Turner was involved in setting the salaries for his assistant coaches. He talked to other head coaches to see what they were paying.

   "I think our coaches are up there with all the other people in the Big Ten and very competitive," Turner said.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports