Saying "I'm sick as hell about giving up the money," Georgetown basketball Coach John Thompson said yesterday he had decided to turn down the head coach job at the University of Oklahoma, with its promise of a $120,000 annual package.
"I don't think I can pinpoint one reason," Thompson said from Las Vegas, where he is attending a meeting of the U.S. Olympic basketball team selection committee. "I think it's in the best interest of everybody that I stay where I am."
Thompson, whose annual earning power at Georgetown is believed to be in the $40,000-$50,000 range, said only the large sum of money involved made him seriously consider Oklahoma's offer to replace Dave Bliss, who resigned to coach at Southern Methodist University.
"I have a good job, but I also feel it is my responsibility to listen to opportunities when they present themselves," Thompson said. "I don't want to come across as some pious person who gave up a lot of money. I was sick as hell about giving up the money . . .
"You can be just as much a family man, just as religious, with money. I'm not ready to say the rich are the damned."
Thus Thompson, 38, will return to Georgetown for his ninth season, after a 26-6 record this year that took the Hoyas to the NCAA East Regional final and placed Thompson in demand.
He previously had withdrawn his name from search committee lists for jobs at Florida and Pittsburgh. He also has been in contact with an unidentified NBA team, which he has said is not the Bullets.
Thompson, who leaves today for Hawaii to coach the East team in the Aloha Classic, said that he "agonized" over his most recent decision.
"The only people who tell you the money is not a factor," he said, "are the people who have it."
Both Thompson and Georgetown officials realize that the school cannot afford to pay the Washington native much more than he is making now.
"I'm not looking for a job," Thompson said. "If you coach in a job and do the best you can, other job opportunities will present themselves. I don't feel I'll be any less marketable by remaining at Georgetown."