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Would Coach G leave Duke?

RALEIGH - As her team gears up for another run at the program's first national championship, women's basketball head coach Gail Goestenkors has seen her name circulated recently in reference to several high-profile openings at other colleges.

Texas, Florida, LSU and Michigan are all in the market for new head coaches this offseason, and Goestenkors is reportedly at the top of the wish list for the Longhorns.

With her team preparing Monday for its second-round NCAA game at the RBC Center, Goestenkors said she would like to remain at Duke. She stopped short, however, of guaranteeing her return next season.

"I hope to be staying at Duke," Goestenkors said. "My focus is just on this team, on this tournament. I'm not thinking about the future except for five games."

The rumors originally began to circulate after long-time Texas coach Jody Conradt resigned last week, leaving behind a contract that paid her $540,000 in base compensation last season-more than Goestenkors.

Goestenkors' salary is not public information, but she was not listed among the top five paid employees on Duke's most recent Internal Revenue Service 990 tax filing. The lowest among those five earned $532,584 in the fiscal year that ended in 2005.

Director of Athletics Joe Alleva declined to discuss the specifics of Goestenkors' compensation but said she is "very well compensated in the world of women's basketball."

Compared to the top tier of coaches in the women's game, however, Goestenkors' salary does not stack up. Tennessee's Pat Summitt is the highest-paid coach in women's college basketball at an average of $1.125 million guaranteed over six seasons, and Geno Auriemma's contract with Connecticut guarantees him $988,000 per year.

"They've both won a lot of national championships and are part of programs that make money for their institutions. They bring in profit for their athletic departments, and that's not the case for our women's program," Alleva said. "I'm sure some of these other institutions will offer significantly large packages to encourage her to go.

"I've received calls about Coach G for years. She's been our coach for the long term, and I hope to keep her as our coach for a long time.... Hopefully when all is said and done, she'll be our coach in the future."

According to Duke's most recent Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act filing, the women's basketball program operated at a loss of more than $2 million between Oct. 16, 2005 and Oct. 15, 2006. During that same period, Connecticut's program turned in a profit of close to $1 million and Tennessee was in the black by nearly $50,000.

Despite the discrepancy in salaries between her and her counterparts at profitable programs, Goestenkors said Monday she has not thought about her contract and will not until the season is over.

Still, with rumblings in newspapers and on Internet message boards, Goestenkors addressed the issue with her team this week.

"She said there's been some talk in the newspapers about her looking at those jobs and just not to read those newspapers," sophomore guard Abby Waner said.

Goestenkors arrived at Duke in 1992, taking over a program that had reached just one NCAA Tournament in its 17 previous years of existence. Since then, Duke has become one of the nation's elite programs, making it to the Final Four in four out of the past eight seasons. Goestenkors' teams have lost in their two appearances in the National Championship game, including an overtime defeat to Maryland last season.

Since then, Duke has dropped only one game and enter this year's tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.

"She is Duke basketball," Waner said. "She's created what this program has become, and people come here to play for her."

When asked if she thought the coach that recruited her to Duke would be back next season, Waner remained positive.

"We hope so-we're expecting that," she said.

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