In the wake of the revelation of the FBI investigation into potential recruiting violations at four (and maybe more) college men’s basketball programs, I have provided links to previously posted articles that give you an insight as to what is behind these shoe contracts.
In March of 2013 the Wichita State Shockers shocked everyone by making it into the Final Four. A year later they inked a deal with Nike. In March, 2014 The Wichita Eagle published an article entitled, “Nike apparel deal a budget reliever for Wichita State basketball.” The article states that some schools get simply free clothing/shoes. They may also have separate deals with different sports programs. If you are a consistent presence in the NCAA Tournament, you can get cash payments, and contract for your entire athletic teams.
In October 2014 USA Today published the article, “How college shoe contracts impact elite basketball recruits.” They quote Louisville coach Rick Pitino as saying UofL was at a disadvantage because they contracted with Adidas – Nike having the advantage. It continues by saying shoe companies will sponsor club travel teams to universities that contract with them. The article also said some players stated the shoe contracts had no influence in their decision to attend or not attend.
The most interesting article I came across was from the October 2014 Louisville Courier-Journal. Entitled, “Shoe Companies Pay Millions for Walking Ads“, it provides shoe contract information on several school programs. It also has a link to the interview Rick Pitino gave regarding his opinion of these shoe contracts.
Finally, there was an article in the New York Times from this past March 25, entitled, “Shoes, Shirts, You Name It, College Basketball Players Get It Free.” It highlights that the clothing received by the players is in demand by friends and family, thus increasing the brand.
The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil. This scenario may not be considered “evil”, but programs across the country -including the NCAA – should evaluate these deals and question whether the integrity of both the school and the game have been compromised by their presence. If more than the original four programs are investigated, this question may be inevitable.