Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
9/12/2006 12:07:00 AM
Those Swooshes Come In Green
Kansas State got a big-name coach in Bob Huggins and all the benefits of his notoriety.
Bob Huggins arrived in Manhattan, Kan., in March, and shortly thereafter, big things began to follow. National media attention. A 7-foot-3 high school center from Florida, Jason Bennett. Controversy over wresting rivals.com's No. 1 recruit from the Class of 2007, Michael Beasley, away from Charlotte by hiring 49er assistant Dalonte Hill. But the biggest thing of all -- at least for Kansas State's athletic department -- came last week: a $12.3 million contract with Nike.
All-encompassing Nike deals like this one, which supplies all 16 varsity sports at K-State over six years, only exist at about a dozen schools nationwide. While the Wildcats' bounty is not the biggest, by far (North Carolina is in the midst of a $28.34 million, eight-year contract), the progress it represents is staggering. Prior to Huggins' arrival, the shoe revenue for the entire athletic department was a grand total of ... drumroll please ... zero dollars.
Wow. K-State went from zero to $12.3 million on the swooshometer before Huggins even coached his first practice. And according to Huggins' contract, the school only has to give him a $125,000 annual cut of that haul.
K-State officials suggested that the allure of new football coach Ron Prince also played a role in attracting the shoe-bucks, but I'm not buying it. Prince's predecessor, the revered Bill Snyder, strung together 11 straight bowl seasons from 1993-2003 but never raked in a dime from Nike for the athletic department. (Snyder did make his own Nike money, as most I-A coaches, including Huggins, also have personal shoe deals built into their contracts.) According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, K-State had a relationship with Nike dating back to 1995. From '95 to 2000, the shoe company provided free equipment for Snyder's teams. Nothing more. In 2000 it began supplying men's and women's hoops. Still no revenue. In 2003, Nike was so generous as to let the Wildcats' other 13 teams buy products at cost.
Now, every squad from basketball to rowing is on the free-gear gravy train. And the rest of the $2.05 million (on average) per year that doesn't go toward apparel can be pumped back into the school.
K-State knew it risked a hit to its rep by hiring Huggins, given his checkered past. It admitted as much by putting a clause in his contract that he could be fired for committing "an act that causes material injury to the university's reputation." From a business standpoint, however, the hire was no gamble. The Wildcats have already taken it straight to the bank.
Nike's Futures Market
K-State isn't gambling, but Nike is. The company invested a load of cash in Huggins' Wildcats with the expectation they will soon become nationally prominent.
Nike's enthusiasm, no doubt, was buoyed by the recruiting momentum Beasley would create. He'll be an ultra-high-profile, likely one-and-done player at the three or the four position in 2007-08; more importantly, he may pave the way for future five-star recruits to enlist with Huggins and turn K-State into a powerhouse. Recruiting Web sites list Beasley as a K-State commitment, and when I met him at Elite 24 Hoops Classic two weeks ago, he told me he was "positively" headed to Manhattan. "I'm signing," he said. "I'm doing whatever I've gotta do to get there."
If I'm Nike, I'm keeping a close eye on what happens the weekend of Sept. 23. That's when Beasley -- and a host of other big-time recruits -- will make official visits and get their first look at the K-State campus. Louisville will be in town to face the Wildcats in football, and Huggins and his staff will no doubt be pulling out all the stops.
One of the other high schoolers who plans to arrive is 6-foot-6 small forward Bill Walker of Cincinnati (ranked No. 8 overall by scout.com), of whom Beasley said, "If I can get him, we don't need anybody else." Also on hand will be 6-7 power forward DeJuan Blair (No. 44 overall) and 6-5 shooting guard D.J. Kennedy, both of Pittsburgh, and 6-4 point guard Marcus Thornton, a highly touted Texas juco star.
A successful visit could lay the foundation for a hoops revival. Beasley, who had originally committed to Charlotte, took a major leap of faith by sticking with Hill, his old AAU coach and father figure in Washington, D.C., when Huggins shrewdly hired Hill away to Manhattan. Beasley revealed to me he only talked to Huggins once -- "I called the 800 number at the office and talked to him briefly, like three to four minutes" -- before switching his commitment. "I trust coach Hill a lot," Beasley said. "A lot."
The rest of the gang visiting on the 23rd will have to be wooed by more traditional means than the tactical move that bagged Beasley. As one recruiting insider told me, "Nothing is a lock until they get on campus and decide if they actually like Manhattan. And that's a big if." For both Huggins and the swoosh, plenty is at stake.
what's not to love about manhattan. oh, they'll be on the roster. probably because of huggins and staff. but that town is not a hindrance. you all try and make it such, but it is a great place. i guess more importantly though, ksu fans ought to find out where the next couple of final 4's are and probably make some early reservations.
As a basketball coach, Huggins is one of the most revered men in the game. He is the essense of work ethic and hustle.
But what Huggins does not do is graduate basketball players. In his tenure as head coach of the Bearcats, the average player didn't even come close to their degree. Additionally, his players consistently had run-ins with police.
KSU has proved once again that college athletics are a business, and that academics have taken a backseat the the almighty dollar. Most of the men who will play for Huggins will be working at menial jobs after the fact, having been exploited for their athletic prowes and reliving their "glory days" of the hardwood. For every superstar produced by Huggins, how many thugs with rap sheets do we need?
OK, I am a Xavier fan and I've found my hatred was more for Huggy than with our cross town rivals.
But why in the world would Nike want to associated with someone who rarely has a player graduate, had many players in trouble, someone who's coached under-acheivers come tourney-time, and himself has been in embarrassing legal problems etc etc.
You know, the next time my kids need shows, I'll get Reebok's instead.
I think writers covering K-State should visit the University and the town before making comments (pro or con) about the place. Frankly, they are promoting a stereotype and it shows a fair amount of ignorance making derogatory comments. Go visit the place and form your own opinion.
I think you guys are being a little oversensitive about Manhattan. I didn't say anything derogatory. I printed a quote from an insider saying that nothing was guaranteed until they visited campus -- but that was his quote, not mine.
As for the city, I've driven through it once, and think it's fine. But be honest with yourselves -- there are better college towns within the Big 12. Austin and Lawrence, to start. Manhattan has some catching up to do in the ways of creating a decent basketball culture.
In your post, you didn't even include all of the quote you had in the article. Yes, I understand it was a quote and not your own words. On the surface, it makes sense. This can be said of any recruit visiting any campus.
I'm sensitive because most of the national coverage I've read paints Manhattan in a negative light - a very stereotypical slant. Also, I didn't say Manhattan was a great place. I said get some first had experience.
I've spent lots of time in Lawrence and a little bit of time in Austin. I like them both. Are they better than Manhattan? Who knows, what criteria are you using, is it the town or the University you are evaluating? It isn't a given that one town or University is better than the other. That is a personal preference, not a fact.
Also, I don’t live in Manhattan. I did go to school there and I do have first hand knowledge of the University and the town. It’s my opinion that it’s a nice place. That’s based on first hand experience, not hear say.
Whoa Luke, now you're going to get a bunch of KSU folks mad. They do not like to hear that Lawrence is a better college town, even if its true. I'm a KU '05 grad and spent plenty of time in Manhattan as well. Its fun and a great place to party but definitely not the same as Austin or Lawrence. Its a lot like Stillwater.
All that being said, your comment wasn't derogatory in the least. Those kids do have to get to Manhattan and decide if they'd really like it or not. No matter how much KSU fans love it, its still a medium sized town in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, which for a kid like Walker or Beasley is a lot of culture shock. And its a heavily white campus.
Nice job with Huggy bear getting that Nike deal, I had no idea Nike wasn't giving KSU stuff already. Luke, a great blog post would be one with rankings and info on all the different school shoe deals. For example, if I remember right, KU's deal with Adidas is almost as big as UNC's with Nike. Be interesting to compare...
Lawrence is a medium size town as well. It's just closer to "somewhere" than Manhattan. As much as KSU and KU fans don't want to admit it, other than the proximity to KC, the atmosphere and people are similar. That’s to say, they are both nice places. One is not a “better” college town than the other.
Luke, I got your back. It isn't like you said anything wrong about Manhatten. Where is Manhatten? There is a school in Manhatten, KS? Let's be real here, KSU will never be within the ranks of Kansas, Texas or premier schools like UNC and Duke regardless of what coach or contracts they pull for B-Ball. Who cares about Huggins and KSU. Let the man work.
I'm a cincinnati native, went to school at Uni of Cincy, am a fan of their sports program and veteran supporter of Bob Huggins.
Does he recruit questionable personalities? Absolutely!!
Does he turn out high quality b-ball programs that win games and go to the tourny year in and year out? Absolutely!!
Huggs brings a tremendous amount to the table from a basketball standpoint and clearly Nike being a sports oriented company is going to spend it's money where it is going to get the highest amount of exposure. Huggs brings that exposure everytime his teams step on the court. K-State will be on ESPN regularly inside of 2 years. That's why Nike is putting it's money into the program.
As for graduation rates that is a product of both the coach and the university. If the university is lax in its oversight on the program for graduation rates then the program will be lax in maintaining high graduation rates. Huggs is a basketball coach and like every other one in the country is responsible for making sure his teams win!! and that they generate money to support the athletic department. Secondly his responsible is to his athletes, ask anyone of them to a man if they are a better person after being around Huggins and each one will answer emphatically YES! Many of these kids that were "thugs" as viewed by the national media and others outside of Cincinnati, don't know that many of those players turned out to be good people who still live and work and contribute in the Cincinnati community today.
I say K-State is highly lucky to have Huggins there and those supporters should do everything they can to embrace him and hope that the University is not lax in it's oversight to maintain not just a winning basketball program with basketball players but a winning basketball program with quality student-athletes!
Since when did college basketball, or more broadly mens major college sports become about graduation rates? I know it is a nice thought, and the politically correct thing to promote. But college basketball is about money. The great players are most often only going to be there for a year or two maximum and go earn their checks in the NBA. For the Universities, it's all about television exposure and the tournament; and if you are talented enough and a bit of luck goes your way you win the tournament. But come on, if graduation rates were really that important to us as fans ESPN would dedicate a channel to course work. They could call it ESPNScholar. We as fans watch what these kids do on the football field or basketball court for hopefully four years if we are lucky, and if they don't make it as a big time star at the next level, they become nothing but a google search for fans 2 years after they are gone. So please, unless you are an academic advisor or work in professional placement, stop the graduation rate rhetoric. We all want them to graduate, but our desire for them to graduate is trumped by our desire for them to win championships.
Let's face the facts...Bob Huggins isn't exactly a great coach OR person. With all of the trouble he got Cincy into, nobody BUT K-State was desperate enough to take that gamble. Kansas State has had enough talent the past few years (*coughJeremiahMassey*) to have made the tounament even once. It's truly sad to see a school willing to risk a somewhat sterling reputation just to hire a coach who can't graduate kids and who recruits illiterate thugs. As for the Lawrence vs. Manhattan scenario, who are you mildcats kidding? Manhattan is literally half the size of Lawrence (thanks, wikipedia). Lawrence was voted one of the top 10 small art cities in the US, and downtown Lawrence including Massachusetts street is one of the most unique places in America. Scott Van Pelt has even raved about the bars (Hawk, Wheel, ect.) live on Sportscenter. Lawrence is bigger, better, and closer a large metropolitan area. We'll give you guys Aggieville, because it's common knowledge that it's only fun for a couple of days. Oh, and congrats on that 1 point win over Illnois St. last weekend. A real nailbiter. That being said, I also want you all to know that yes, I am a KU student, and yes, I have been to Manhattan numerous times and have direct family ties to K-State, so my opinion isn't ENTIRELY biased.