Pitt’s Men’s Basketball Coach Hiring Influence by Shoe Company


ESPN Dishes Out Credit to Adidas

ESPN Radio, March 29, 1999, the same day as the Men's Final Four championship game devoted a segment to the influence of the shoe companies in college basketball. The syndicated broadcasters and expert guests spoke about Pitt's decision to hire Ben Howland. Connections with a shoe company made for the telling decisions as to who was hired for the Pitt job.


Pitt fired Ralph Willard, with years remaining on his contract. Pitt fired Willard with a number of games remaining in the 1998-99 season. Pitt announced its new coach, from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, after Pitt's last game and while the tournament games were occurring.

ESPN broadcasters said that shoe company executives played a pivitol role in the hiring of the Pitt basketball coach.

The Pitt basketball coach, and other coaches at high-profile schools similar to Pitt, stand to make $400K per year because of shoe contracts. That money is above and beyond the contracted sums paid by the university employers. This extravagance is commonplace, by the way.

Pitt hired an Adidas' guy. A former Dapper Dan executive works for Adidas.

Balance Coverage Opportunities

WTAE Radio's move to ESPN programs present different perspectives to Pittsburghers. The media choices now include greater exposure to a different set of views. The sports editors at the Post-Gazette are at odds with what the national journalists are reporting.

... (snip) ...

Sonny Varcarro brokers the deal. Helps negotiate the deal.

Steve Peterson wanted Ben Holland, Adidas. Pitt gets $200K Not true, ...

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