NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—Courtney Paris might as well hang on to her money. Oklahoma doesn’t plan to collect on her failed national championship guarantee any time soon.
Paris had promised that she would repay the university for all four years of her scholarship if the Sooners didn’t win their first national championship, but athletic director Joe Castiglione told The Associated Press on Tuesday he doesn’t plan to hold her to it.
“It’s even more meaningful when someone who committed herself for four years to help her teammates become better, making that kind of symbolic gesture,” Castiglione said. “But having said that, I don’t know of anyone who has had any expectation whatsoever that we would accept the monetary aspect of that gesture.”
The cost of four years at Oklahoma has been estimated conservatively at $64,000, but the number could be even higher since Paris came from California and would have had to establish residence in Oklahoma to pay in-state tuition.
Paris figures to be one of the top picks in Thursday’s WNBA draft, but that doesn’t mean a multimillion-dollar contract right away similar to one her male counterparts would receive. She knew that when she made her guarantee on senior night March 4, saying “It might take me the rest of my life, but I will pay back my scholarship because I didn’t do what I said I would do.”
After the Sooners lost to Louisville in the Final Four on Sunday night, she reiterated that she would make good on her promise.
Castiglione said there are “so many different things you can quantify in terms of her impact” at Oklahoma, including that the program has ranked right behind national powers Connecticut and Tennessee in attendance since she arrived on campus as the Sooners’ highest-profile recruit ever.
“The contributions she has already made to this program are enormous and for that we’ll always be grateful,” Castiglione said. “Most importantly for her to feel like this is a place she always calls one of her home bases is another thing that’s important to us.”
Paris, the daughter of Super Bowl-winning San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Bubba Paris, is the sport’s only four-time AP All-American. She holds a series of records, including the NCAA marks for double-doubles and rebounds. Her streak of 112 straight double-doubles was snapped in a victory against Tennessee this season that denied Pat Summitt in her first shot at her 1,000th career victory.
Castiglione said he thought Paris’ guarantee took on a life of its own, and “I don’t know of anybody on campus or around campus that has that expectation” that she pay the school back.
“We appreciated the symbolism of the gesture and the means of demonstrating her focus to do everything she could to be a great teammate and help her other teammates get in a position to play for and win a national championship,” Castiglione said.
Down the road, Castiglione said the school would welcome any donation Paris chose to make of her own free will. Other athletes have made donations to help build the athletic facilities on campus, he noted.
“If she goes on to her livelihood as a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and has the kind of success and impact in whatever industry she chooses, whether it’s for the time she plays professional to anything else she chooses to do in life, and then decides to make a contribution back to the program to help other student-athletes who have been a part of the legacy she’s left behind, that’s terrific,” Castiglione said.
“But it would only be in those kinds of circumstances we would ever think that a contribution like that would ever be offered,” he said.