SportsProf

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Shoe Deals and College Basketball

Who should benefit from shoe contracts? And why?

The coach? The program the coach coaches? The athletic department? The school?

Women's Hoops addressed this issue in the context of Geno Auriemma, Jim Calhoun and UConn, here and here.

The Sports Economist weighs in.

The role of shoe companies has always been controversial to say the least, and the issues presented in the UConn situation raise them to a certain extent. On the one hand, to whom are the coaches ultimately loyal if they are getting the big bucks from a shoe company? On the other hand, if UConn wants the hoops glory and wants to retain its coaches, guys who clearly could go elsewhere, isn't the shoe company money a good supplement for their income -- and money that doesn't have to come out of the state's or the university's budget?

To me, that's the continuum that's presented for the State of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut. There are key subterranean issues, of course, such as if you sign on with Team Nike or Team Adidas, are you somehow gaining access to a treasure trove of HS players whom the shoe companies' gurus/handlers/middlemen/consultants (ah, there's the word) might steer to you precisely because you're in their family, so to speak? Is that the evolution of college hoops recruiting for men and women? Is that a phenomenon, like steroids in baseball, that few really want to talk about? Could that be a bigger issue down the road?

I think it was in the context of an Kurt Vonnegut novel that a character once remarked that he couldn't remember much of what he learned in law school except for what an old professor told him, which was to be sure to be around when large sums of money are changing hands.

Which puts certain college basketball coaches in the right place at the right time.

Big deal?

Big deals.

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