Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton’s ‘One Tree Hill’ Exit: All About the Benjamins?

It sounds like the mystery behind Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton’s exit from One Tree Hill has been solved—and the question mark appears to hav been replaced by a dollar sign.

TV Guide reports that CW entertainment president Dawn Ostroff addressed the actors’ departure during the network’s upfront presentation on Thursday—and from the way she tells it, it wasn’t the network’s decision to part ways with them.

“We tried to get them to stay; we would have been thrilled if they wanted to,” Ostroff told reporters.

Murray and Burton—who’d been with the show since its 2003 debut—were both in lengthy contract negotiations at the time of the parting. If the network had been making every effort to keep them happy, as Ostroff suggests, could there be any other reason for the split besides the money?

During a recent interview, Burton—who’s moving on shoot a Web series starting on Memorial Day—noted that “money isn’t necessarily a big motivator for me.” While she didn’t reveal the precise reason for her departure from the show, Burton noted, “Everyone was kind of agreeable about the situation.”

If the CW’s Ostroff is to be believed, that will probably come as news to the network.