Oregon coach is track program's leading candidate

See inside for the latest on Oklahoma's search for a new track and field coach.

OUInsider.com has learned that the leading candidate to be the next head track and field coach at OU is former Oregon head coach Martin Smith.

Smith, 53, is considered one of the top track coaches in the country, but resigned his post at Oregon in March because of differences with the Oregon athletic department, and former Oregon track and field athletes who said that Smith steered the Ducks track program away from its heritage in the distance events.

Instead of concentrating on just distance events, Smith spent his scholarship allotment of 12.6 scholarships on decathletes and multievent athletes who could score big in a number of events giving the team the best chance to win. Using that philosophy, the Ducks, under Smith, were second, first and second in the last three Pac-10 meets, and they were ninth in the NCAA meet last June for the second time in four years.

This past indoor season, Smith lead the Ducks to a sixth-place finish in the NCAA Track and Field Championships, the best finish ever for the Ducks in the indoor season.

Smith made a base salary of $100,000 per year with a supplemental income of $50,000 per year at Oregon. Smtih reached a recent settlement with Oregon that will pay him $500,000 over the next three years. However, those payments would be discontinued if Smith gets another Division-1 head coaching job at equal or greater salary.

The negotiations continue between Smith and the Sooners, and the deal is not done yet, but the two sides are very close.

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