If you think Pitino is investing a tad too much time in fashion design, there's a reason—the new uniforms are made by Converse, the athletic apparel and shoe company with which Pitino has a six-figure-a-year deal and for which he is a marquee spokesman. Also, the deal was sewed up by Converse representative Martin Newton, the Wildcats' color commentator and the son of Kentucky athletic director C.M. Newton, the man who lured Pitino to Lexington.
Martin Newton says that Converse is upset about the controversy. Still, the company needs all the publicity it can get, locked as it is in a struggle with Nike and other high-profile competitors, and the news from the business side has been good: Thomas Richmond, manager of the Rupp Arena Kentucky Korner, has reported brisk sales of the new denim-trimmed shorts, at $59.95 a pop, and tank tops ($79.95). The university is happy too—it receives 6% of the wholesale price of all Kentucky merchandise. And even fans who hate the new look may have a blue lining: There's a chance the Wildcats will get new uniforms again next season.
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