Morning Five: 09.10.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 10th, 2012

  1. The biggest news from the weekend was without question the bombshell that dropped Friday that former Duke forward Lance Thomas is being sued by a New York City jeweler who caters to professional athletes for an unpaid debt of $67,800 — credit that was extended to Thomas upon a down payment of $30,000 and purchase of several items during December of his senior season. This is the same senior season that led to Duke and Mike Krzyzewski’s fourth national championship won over upstart Butler; the same senior season where Thomas started in most of the Blue Devils’ games and contributed five points and five rebounds in roughly 25 minutes per game. Right now, there are more questions than answers — where did Thomas get such a large sum of money to make the down payment? Why would a jeweler give a college student of marginal skill such exorbitant credit? What happened to the jewelry, and did anyone at Duke see him wearing it? Right now, all we know is that the NCAA and Duke both say that they are aware of the issue, but you’d better believe that a nation full of fans of schools other than Duke will be watching this one very, very closely.
  2. Of the six power conferences, the Big East has without question been the one most expendable because of its relative lack of marquee football programs. In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, it has expanded its gridiron presence to include schools from all four US time zones which hasled to understandable mockery over the word “East” in its moniker. Last week former interim commissioner Joe Bailey stated at a sports business conference that the league was investigating a name change to better fit its new national geographic presence. Within minutes of this news releasing, Twitter had a field day making fun of it, no doubt sending current Big East commissioner Mike Aresco into panic mode. Putting the matter to rest on Saturday, Aresco said that there are no plans to change the name, citing “tremendous brand equity” in the conference’s geographic misnomer. Let’s hope for Aresco’s sake that the equity he refers to is more Apple than Enron.
  3. The third buzzworthy item from the weekend related to a comment made by NCAA executive VP for championships, Mark Lewis, late last week. In a conversation with ESPN.com, Lewis said he pulled out a US map and openly wondered why the population-heavy east and west coasts were effectively shut out of the possibility of hosting a Final Four because there are no domed stadiums located in those areas (every Final Four from 1997 to present has been in a dome). The eight existing viable locations — Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and St. Louis — are generally found in the nation’s mid-section, far from the media hype machines located along the seaboards. The primary impact, of course, would be on the ticket market. Domes are set up to hold upward of 70,000 fans, whereas traditional basketball arenas top out in the low 20,000+ range. We’ve been to a number of Final Fours over the years, and in general have to agree with Mike DeCourcy who argues that the buzz and energy of the building filled with that many people surpasses the tradeoff of a more intimate environment. As a compromise position, we’d offer this suggestion — limit the regional rounds to traditional arenas only, allowing the NBA cities located up and down both coasts regular hosting opportunities; but keep the Final Fours in the dome environments, allowing huge fanbases as well as the general public a reasonable chance to experience one of the great spectacles in all of sports.
  4. As we inch closer to the 2012-13 season, UNLV basketball continues to receive positive attention. The Runnin’ Rebels are loaded with talent and expectations are sky high in the desert. With good attention and expectations comes demands, and the Nevada Board of Regents made an effort to keep head coach Dave Rice happy by approving a raise to a base salary of $600,000 and an extension through the 2016-17 season. Rice’s first season featured the emergence of star forward Mike Moser and a 26-9 overall record although it ended prematurely in the Rebs’ first game of the NCAA Tournament. Next year’s team will add star recruit Anthony Bennett and transfer Khem Birch to bolster the front line along with Moser, making UNLV a chic preseason pick to make a run at the 2013 Final Four.
  5. The 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame class was inducted on Friday night, and as always, college basketball was well-represented. The biggest name from our game was Virginia’s three-time NPOY Ralph Sampson — for those of you under 40, read that part in italics again — a player who was so utterly dominant during one of the most talented eras the sport has ever seen that his NBA career (only four All-Star appearances) pales in comparison. Other college stars of note were UCLA’s Jamaal Wilkes (two-time first-team All-American), UCLA’s Don Barksdale (second-team All-American), Reggie Miller (two-time first-team Pac-10), Iowa’s Don Nelson (two-time All-American, although he was selected for his coaching), Bradley’s Chet Walker (two-time All-American), New Mexico’s Mel Daniels (second-team All-American) and referee Hank Nichols. An interesting non-basketball-playing inductee was Nike CEO Phil Knight, whose impact on the sport through his sneakers and corollary marketing efforts have been incalculable.
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Could the 16-Team Nike Event Signal a Shift in Scheduling Patterns?

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 17th, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

While Michigan State has found on-court success under the steady hand of coach Tom Izzo, his athletic director Mark Hollis has embraced progressive scheduling tactics that have granted the Spartans access to some of the nation’s most unique events. Last year, Hollis set the standard for inventive hosting sites by spearheading the plans for Michigan State’s game against North Carolina aboard the active warship USS Carl Vinson. The sensational vistas and patriotic atmosphere made the Carrier Classic an unmitigated success. Three similar events next season – on the same day, no less – have been scheduled since, with each taking place on a different U.S. Naval ship; a three-fold amplification of college hoops nationalism, all thanks to Hollis’ trailblazing work. He one-upped himself earlier this year by reaching an agreement for MSU to play Connecticut in a 2012-13 season-opening event at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, an active U.S. forces garrison and NATO site. Hollis’ next endeavor was a historical tribute to the 1963 Mississippi State-Loyola (Chicago) NCAA Tournament game that took place against the wishes of Mississippi’s segregationist governor, which he accomplished by initially offering a neutral site on the MSU campus, then helping to arrange a two-year home-and-home series between the two schools.

The 16-team event will honor the 80th birthday of Nike co-founder Phil Knight (Photo credit: Steve Dipaola/Reuters).

The creative AD has now set his sights on another commemorative event, this one far more inclusive than any of his recent scheduling novelties. According to ESPN’s Andy Katz, Hollis has received confirmation from 16 schools on a dual-pronged mega-tournament honoring the 80th birthday of Nike chairman Phil Knight. The event is tentatively scheduled for a four-day period in November 2017, with two separate fixtures (The Rose Garden and Veterans Memorial Coliseum) featuring an eight-team fields. Hollis selected 16 Nike-sponsored schools he feels represents “all of college basketball’s power conferences.” With multiple participants from each league, the two-tournament format prevents a violation of NCAA protocol prohibiting conference opponents from playing in the same event. The 16 teams are participating on behalf of their own programs in an effort to pay homage to Knight and his illustrious résumé. Neither Nike nor Knight will be involved in staging the festivities.

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Morning Five: 08.17.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 17th, 2012

  1. Ever wake up on a random summer Thursday to learn about something planned for five years from now, and spend the rest of the day giddy thinking about it? Yeah, us too. When the Champions Classic was announced two years ago featuring a rotating schedule between Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, we were happy. When the as-yet-unnamed Phil Knight event was announced yesterday featuring a ridiculously cool dual tournament format that includes the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Connecticut, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Texas, Oregon, Stanford, Butler, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Xavier and Portland facing off over four days, we were ecstatic. Everyone loves some March Madness — this one-of-a-kind event to celebrate the 80th birthday of Nike founder Phil Knight will be as close as it gets to November Madness. Football people have trouble understanding this, but basketball at every level has always been a tournament sport — you win, you advance; you lose, you go home. Our only beef with this idea — why only one year? Make it permanent!
  2. If all the contracts are signed and this Phil Knight event actually comes to pass in 2017, perhaps some of this summer’s younger prep stars will be playing in it. This year’s high school juniors would be college seniors in the 2017-18 season if they played straight through, after all. SI.com’s Frank Burlison released a summer recruiting report for those of us who haven’t kept up with all the news from the summer camps and tournaments, and from his perspective, North Carolina and Florida had the most successful season on the prep circuit. Interestingly, Burlison’s analysis of Jabari Parker, SI’s cover boy as the best prospect since LeBron James, rates him fifth in his own class. His educated opinion is that Class of 2014′s Andrew Wiggins is the best player in high school basketball, regardless of class. Maybe SI will put him on the cover next year with the headline “Best Since Jabari Parker!”
  3. Everyone knows that Boise State‘s blue-fielded football program is poised to join the Big East on the gridiron beginning in 2013 — what was less certain is what would happen to all of the university’s other sports, including men’s basketball. No longer is this in question, as it appears that the Broncos will join the Big West just as fellow Big East/Big West member San Diego State has already done. Confused? Yeah, when you take into account that Boise State’s football (Big East), wrestling (Pac-12), gymastics (WAC), women’s swimming and diving (Mountain West), and men’s basketball and all other sports (Big West) reside in five different leagues from coast to coast, it really hits home just how ridiculous certain results of conference realignment has gotten. The volume of paperwork running through the athletic department alone must be downright Himalayan.
  4. Most college basketball head coaches are notoriously apolitical — at least publicly — being either too busy or too strategically diplomatic to engage in much discussion about the issues facing the country in an exceptionally polarized political environment. In a slightly odd twist from the norm, a number of prominent head coaches including Tom Izzo, Ben Howland, Johnny Dawkins, Tubby Smith, Jamie Dixon, Mike Montgomery, and Phil Martelli recently filed a “friend of the court” brief along with the NABC and Black Coaches and Administrators organizations regarding a Supreme Court case about race-based admissions decisions. The amicus brief (in full here), one of over 50 submitted for this case, argues that public universities should have considerable discretion in how they choose their admitted students, which may include attempts at balancing diversity by considering factors other than test scores and grades. This is a touchy subject for many people, but we’ll leave it at this — schools have always found ways to admit people who fell outside the numbers, long before anyone knew what affirmative action was. There’s no reason to believe that will ever change, simply because it’s not in their best interests to do so.
  5. It appears that all of the external pressure on North Carolina is resulting in some much-needed action. On Thursday, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp announced that former North Carolina governor James G. Martin (for those of you wondering, he’s a Davidson alumnus) will lead an independent review of UNC’s academic issues prior to 2007 in tandem with Virchow, Krause & Company, a national management consulting firm. Thorp said that he expects the team’s findings to be reported within a few weeks in the hopes that the school can put this scandal behind them, but of course that will also ultimately depend on what any new findings actually reveal. It’s good to see that UNC is taking this seriously, though, and has removed the investigation from its internal mechanisms. Roy Williams has an opinion on the matter, for what it’s worth.

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Oregon’s New Court: An Unvarnished Rorschach Test?

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2010

Phil Knight is known as many things, but being a bore isn’t one of them.  The founder of Nike who has launched hundreds of campaigns of cool over the past three decades is a well-known University of Oregon supporter, and his creative stamp on Duck uniforms has given legions of commentators great discussion material over the years.   As we all know, Oregon’s brand new hoops home, the Matthew Knight Arena, is scheduled to open for business in early 2011 and the Nike CEO may have outdone himself this time with its design.  Or more specifically, the design of the centerpiece of the building — the Ducks’ basketball floor.

Is It a Rorschach Test or a Basketball Floor?

This isn’t the best photo, but the floor, designed by Nike’s VP for Design and Special Projects Tinker Hatfield, depicts the evergreen forests that the Pacific Northwest is known for with the motto “Deep in the Woods.”  There’s also a secondary meaning behind the floor, as UO’s 1939 national title team (in the first NCAA Tournament) was nicknamed the “Tall Firs.”  Hatfield, who may have staked his reputation and career on this design, had this to say: “We wanted to design the most iconic television presence possible for the University of Oregon by conjuring up a highly unique and visible basketball floor design. It’s inspired by our beautiful tree-covered region and the UO 1939 NCAA Championship basketball team nick-named the ‘Tall Firs.’”

Score one for unique and visible.  But unless Hatfield was going for the always-hip unvarnished Rorschach Test look, we’re not sure what he was thinking.  Looking at this thing makes us want to climb down there with a bucket of paint and a few brushes — well, after we’ve spent an hour wondering why the iconic Oregon “O” sits upon what appears to be a Stonehenge structure that spells out Tatt (ed. note: obviously, it is supposed to read “Matt”).  Other than wondering where that damn sailboat is hidden, we see a few problems with this floor.  First of all, the actual floor doesn’t have nearly the contrast of the artist’s rendition (see below), but we’re honestly not sure if that would make it better or worse.  Next, other than the emerald in the lettering and playing lines, this floor doesn’t really appear to capture the school’s primary colors of green and yellow.  It looks more like wood color, which would be fine on its own if they weren’t actually going for something else.

Color us skeptical, but maybe this floor will look a lot better in high-definition television with 12,000 green/yellow-clad screaming fans around it come January, but for now, we’re more aghast at this design than anything else.  This floor in its current form is definitely a candidate for our Ugly Floors post from a couple of years back.  We will say this about Oregon, though — more than any other school in America, they’re willing to try new and imaginative things, even if those attempts are incredibly  ugly and easily mocked.

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Morning Five: 07.16.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 16th, 2010

  1. The people in Cambridge, Massachusetts seem to think that Tommy Amaker has turned things around and that the success will carry into this season and beyond because of Amaker’s ability to recruit and the school’s “name.”  While we think there is a better chance of fielding a solid basketball team than a solid football team at an Ivy League school because of the pure numbers — getting five to commit is easier than 23 (or 11 if your players are going two ways) — but we just don’t see that happening, at least on a consistent basis (Cornell last year was a little bit like catching lightning in a bottle). Our favorite part of the article is Andy Katz crediting Amaker with guiding Harvard to its first postseason appearance since 1946 last year, when they qualified for the CollegeInsider.com Tournament created just a year earlier. What’s next? Saying that a team is ranked just because Ken Pomeroy has them ranked even if they are 347th?
  2. We haven’t talked much about this topic yet (at least compared to some other sites), but the news and columns about the potential ban on early recruiting keeps on building. Today’s news comes out of Atlanta where Paul Hewitt said what everybody has been thinking: the new rule will mean that coaches will just have “a wink and a nod” agreement.
  3. We mentioned some of the early fall-out from the Kansas ticket scandal in yesterday’s Morning 5, but we are here with another update as a second former KU official has pleaded guilty to an identical charge. Right now the losses from the scandal are estimated to be between $1-3 million. We have a feeling more heads will roll in this case.
  4. Since Mike Bellotti, who you may remember as the coach who infamously compared the BCS to “a bad disease, like cancer,” left Oregon to work at ESPN, the Ducks have been searching for a new athletic director. They finally announced a successor yesterday when they named Rob Mullens, previously at Kentucky, as their new athletic director. While Mullens’ old job required him to answer to approximately 4.3 million Kentuckians, his new job requires him to answer to just one man: Phil Knight.
  5. Nice piece by Dana O’Neil about new Charlotte coach Alan Major and his unusual path to get a head coaching job. Coming out of high school, Major had a chance to play for a Division II school, but instead opted to go to Purdue and try to walk-on. When he failed to make the team, he decided to essentially become Gene Keady‘s apprentice where he essentially shadowed the coaches. Now after several stints as an assistant coach at various schools, Major gets his chance to be the man, but he won’t have an easy road as he replaces Bobby Lutz, who was fired after a 19-12 season (and the longest tenure in 49er history plus five NCAA tournament appearances and two Conference USA titles). That will not be an easy act to follow for the first-time head coach.
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Wisconsin Drops Nike – Others to Follow?

Posted by THager on April 15th, 2010

It appears that Nike’s controversial Duke advertisement is the least of their worries.  In a move that was seen as a long time coming at the University of Wisconsin, the school recently dropped Nike from their apparel contract over a dispute with labor on severence pay.  This is the first time that any American college has dropped an agreement with the multi-billion dollar company over what the school perceives as worker’s rights abuses, but the school has had a history of taking the initiative in contract agreements.  Wisconsin recently ended contracts with both New Era and Russell Athletic over similar practices, and chancellor Biddy Martin had given Nike 120 days to pay $2.6 million to Honduran workers in severance pay and back wages that started the standoff.  Wisconsin’s main apparel supplier, adidas, has had labor issues of their own but their are no plans yet to sever ties with the other shoe giant.  Wisconsin’s take:

According to the university’s Labor Code of Conduct, local labor laws must be followed, the freedom of associated and collective bargaining must be respected, and responsibility must be taken for subcontractors. Since Nike acted outside these rules, its contract was terminated.

Is Wisconsin the First of Several?

The amount of royalty fees that Wisconsin stands to lose is in the neighborhood of $50,000, relative chump change in the world of athletic apparel at a major school like Wisconsin.  But perhaps most importantly for Nike, other schools may be getting in on the act as well.  Georgetown and Washington are interested in learning more themselves.  Oklahoma, which unlike Wisconsin has Nike as their primary sponsor, is getting pressure from their students to drop the company, even going so far as to write a column requesting that OU terminate their contract with Nike.  Cornell may also be following Wisconsin’s lead as multiple workers’ rights organizations on campus have supported a termination of their contract.  Although Nike does not own the factories where the wage abuses occurred, they do use the factories to manufacture their apparel, which activists say violates Cornell’s Code of Conduct.  The ball is already rolling downhill on several campuses and if Nike isn’t careful, they’re going to find themselves underneath an avalanche of negative publicity on this matter.

According to Google Finance, the company is worth nearly $37 Billion.  So why do they feel the need to take such a PR hit when $2.6 million should be pocket change to them?  Probably the same reason that some of their overseas employees make less than $5 a day — unless you’re a potential Oregon head coach, CEO Phil Knight is not known as the most generous man in the world.  But if he doesn’t calm the storm soon, he could be facing a much bigger hit than any money he owed his (subcontracted) employees.

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Step Right Up For the Brad Stevens Sweepstakes

Posted by rtmsf on April 7th, 2010

Forget the Coach K to the New Jersey Nets rumors (seriously, how cool would it be to watch Krzyzewski turn down increasingly ridiculous offers…  $15M: nah.  $25M: no way.  $50M: sure I’ll think about it.  $100M: ok, but only if you throw in something for Collins and Wojo.), the hottest coaching commodity that we’ve seen in a great number of years is none other than Butler’s 33-year old wunderkind, Brad Stevens.  Everyone in college basketball circles would love to be in his position right now, with a limitless number of suitors and a potential preseason top-five team returning in 2010-11.  If you’re Stevens and you decide to leave, you can ask your new employer for the moon; if you’re him and you decide to stay, you can ask your current employer for Venus.  No matter what his final decision will be, he can make demands that few ADs, Barry Collier included, can afford to turn down. 

The Butler Money Man (Indy Star/R. Scheer)

Given that environment, there are currently three open positions with enough name recognition, cash and prestige to lure Stevens away from his home state of Indiana.  Let’s break down each of those situations plus a fourth alternative of staying at Butler for a while longer. 

Oregon.  Oregon has made no bones about its desire to get a big name to replace Ernie Kent this year.  Tom Izzo and Tubby Smith have already reportedly turned down the Ducks and Phil Knight’s mattress stuffed with cash, but both of those guys are old-timers (relatively speaking) who have climbed the mountaintop before.  Stevens is 33 years old and makes a good living at Butler (~$400k annually), but he has two young children and when you’re facing the prospect of generational wealth as he would at UO (~$2-3M), it clouds the somewhat feel-good picture of staying at Butler for the ‘fit.’

  • Pluses: Obviously, money and top-rate facilities in the form of the brand-new Matthew Knight Arena (opening Winter 2010-11) and the adjoining practice facility.  A commitment to basketball through Phil Knight’s largesse.  A down Pac-10 will make for an easier ascendency to the top in the next two seasons.  Oregon loves its Ducks — strong statewide support.  Did we mention the money? — five mediocre years there and he’s still sitting on a huge bankroll. 
  • Minuses:  In its heart of hearts, Oregon is a football school.  Recruiting to Eugene isn’t easy outside of the Pacific Northwest, and an Indiana guy would probably be out of his element there.  He’s looking at a rebuilding situation next season – the Ducks will not be very good for a while.  Oregon basketball feels more like a stepping-stone appointment rather than a destination one.  It rains an awful lot there.

Can Knight Shovel Enough Dough Stevens' Way?

Wake Forest.  With today’s firing of Dino Gaudio after three seasons and two NCAA trips, it’s clear that Demon Deacon AD Ron Wellman has bigger things in mind.  The school has a small but passionate fanbase that would hire the Easter Bunny if they thought he could beat Duke and Carolina on a regular basis.  Wake has money to spend, but there’s no bottomless pot of (black and) gold of which Wellman can draw from like Oregon.  Still, the ACC is still the most prestigious basketball league in America, and Wake is a prime situation for the right coach.

  • Pluses:  Tobacco Road: few places in the country match the commitment and passion of the fans in this part of the country about college basketball.  Stevens would find a similar situation to what he left in Indiana.  There is enough talent in the Carolinas and Atlanta to support another top twenty program in this area on talent alone — Wake could provide the platform for Stevens to make that leap and pay him handsomely for the privilege.  Like Butler, Wake is a small, private university with a commitment to academics, so he wouldn’t be making a huge change in comfort level.
  • Minuses:  Tobacco Road: did we mention that three of the last six champions and two Hall of Fame coaches reside about 80 miles down the road in Durham and Chapel Hill?  Many a coach has come to NC State and Wake Forest with high hopes only to learn that harsh reality the hard way.  Getting wins in the ACC won’t be as easy a proposition as it was in the Horizon League.  Butler is a low pressure job, but Wake demands a lot from its coaches — perhaps more than can reasonably be expected.

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Ernie Kent Out At Oregon

Posted by jstevrtc on March 7th, 2010

Oregon head coach Ernie Kent has been fired, according to a report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  The first report about this actually surfaced during the second half of the Ducks’ Senior Day game against Washington State — which they won, by the way, 74-66 — from Eugene’s KVAL-TV, who reported that Oregon A.D. Mike Bellotti had already told the coach that he wouldn’t be leading the Ducks next year.

During his time at UO, Kent has posted a 234-172 record.  This is his 13th season at the helm.  Kent has taken Oregon to the NCAA Tournament five times, reaching the Elite 8 in 2002 and 2007.

It’s assumed that Kent will indeed coach the team through the Pac-10 Tournament, so now thoughts turn to whom his replacement could be.  Back in January, FoxSports.com’s Jeff Goodman had named Kent as a coach who was sitting on a 300-degree hot seat this season, and today raised the possibilities of Gonzaga’s Mark Few and Minnesota’s Tubby Smith as candidates for the Oregon job.  Few’s name is brought up for just about every major coaching vacancy within 15 minutes of the opening being announced, but there’s a small new wrinkle, here — Few was born in Oregon and graduated from UO in 1987.  In case you’re wondering whether or not Oregon could attract such heavy-hitters in the college basketball coaching ranks, consider these two items:  1) Oregon has a brand new arena opening up next year, and 2) it’s only natural that Nike chairman Phil Knight — a UO grad and a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for “Special Contribution to Sports” in Oregon — would be involved, whether overtly or secretly, in the selection process.  And when you talk about Nike and Phil Knight getting involved…suddenly, anything is possible.

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Adi-dissed

Posted by jstevrtc on November 5th, 2009

Marcus Jordan just proved to the world that blood is indeed thicker than shoe leather.  As you may recall, Marcus — son of Michael (and yes, Marcus, you’re stuck with that for life) — signed on to play at the University of Central Florida, a school that has a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract with Adidas.  Marcus wanted to wear Nike Air Jordans for pretty obvious reasons.  The school and Adidas were said to have been attempting to find a “workable solution.”

Here’s your solution.  Marcus wore a pair of white Air Jordans in an exhibition victory over Saint Leo on Wednesday night.  It isn’t clear whether or not Adidas waited to see in what shoes Marcus came out before they released this statement, but according to the story from ESPN.com, an Adidas rep sent an e-mail to the Associated Press reading, “The University of Central Florida has chosen not to deliver on their contractual commitment to Adidas.  As a result, we have chosen not to continue our relationship with them moving forward.”

Was this the right move by Adidas?  It’s easy to see their point.  We don’t know what kind of player Marcus will be, but even if the guy averages a Blutarsky (0.0 PPG) and does nothing but sit the bench for four years (he won’t), he’s still going to be the most visible player on that team just because he’s Michael’s son.  Marcus offered to wear Adidas products in every other aspect — uniform, sweatbands, whatever — but evidently this was not going to satisfy Adidas. 

Like everyone else involved, Adidas had to realize that this was a rather strange set of circumstances, but could they really ask a kid to sort of stick it to his dad like that?  Adidas could have taken the high road, acknowledged the bizarre situation, and let Marcus wear the Jordan kicks and otherwise Adidas gear.  That way, the rest of the team still wear Adidas products, the contract is left in place, and it’s only one single player in non-Adidas shoes.  Instead, with Adidas choosing to bow out, now it’s a whole team wearing another brand instead of just one player.  Adidas must be doing pretty well if they can just give up team contracts to other brands (especially, say, a certain company headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon)?  Some might say, “It’s Central Florida, not North Carolina.”  But, no matter the school, they could have made themselves look better here instead of just taking their contract and going home.

And that’s the most interesting part of this.  Adidas could have sued to make UCF honor the contract, and probably would have won, but they would have looked worse in the court of public opinion.  Seeing this, instead of keeping the contract in place except for Marcus Jordan’s feet, they just decided to quietly exit.  The only matter now is to see if the University of Central Florida basketball team will go from being called the Knights…to the Phil Knights?

 

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