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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Selling the School

    INDIANAPOLIS – Usually, a head basketball coach sells his respective university to the recruits, luring the athlete with glamorous multi-million dollar facilities, school pride and everything the surrounding area has to offer.

    Now, it’s the university that must sell itself to the basketball coach on the exact same points.

    Primarily, it’s the same concept – except the wad of cash coaches get.

    The reasons why student-athletes relocate to the UA are the same reasons why coaches would want to relocate to become Arizona’s next head basketball coach.

    Athletes come to work hard and compete. Coaches do the same.

    So how does the UA stack up when coaches decide whether to begin a new chapter in their life here in Tucson?



    Considered to be a top-10, all-time elite basketball program, Lute Olson built a college hoops oasis in the Tucson desert. If 25 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances weren’t enough, maybe the 11 ex-Wildcats currently the NBA would tell you how prominent the program has become over the years. Sure, it’s not currently the top-25 powerhouse of the mid-1990s, but this year’s Sweet 16 berth didn’t happen by accident.

    Warm weather

    UA women’s basketball coach Niya Butts sat down for her first press conference. When asked what brought Butts out to begin a new chapter in her coaching career, Butts said with an average temperature of 85 degrees, who wouldn’t? Although it’s irrelevant to anything relating to on-court basketball talk, the warm Arizona climate certainly can’t hurt when coaches look at the infamous “”quality of life”” favor in their next jobs.


    Only recently can the UA say it comfortably uses its facilities as an advantage when it comes to recruiting. With the opening of the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium – a multi-purpose practice gymnasium – the team isn’t forced to share court time with other fall sports such as gymnastics and volleyball in McKale Center. Now, a brand-new building named after a current NBA player helps not only a cramped McKale, but it can also lure recruits.



    Here’s the dilemma: McKale Center was loudest venue in the Pacific 10 Conference this season, according to visiting teams and media members. With a capacity of 14,454, it’s also the largest in the conference in terms of seating; Arizona leads the conference in attendance every season.

    But it’s old. How does UA compete with schools that can boast $300 million new complexes, such as those that Oregon and Louisville will soon unveil?

    Arizona can use its fan-friendly always-packed atmospheric arena as an advantage. But other schools can use their brand-new HD jumbotrons, too.


    Pac-10 basketball is a bittersweet experience. Sweet as in the big names that have dominated the conference over the past few seasons – see 2008 NBA Draft.

    Sweet as in strong opposition every weekend – see UCLA, USC, California and Washington.

    Sweet as in the conference that collectively boasts schools from the most sophisticated cities in the country – see Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Phoenix.

    But bitter as in the awful television contract the Pac-10 has with FSNA. Or FSN, whatever it’s called. And that’s the problem – the network simply isn’t the prominent, marquee sports force that ESPN brings. The Pac-10 can’t compete with schools in the ACC, Big East and SEC that play on ESPN and ESPN2 every night. ESPN dominates its market share and viewership – whether it’s on television, radio or Internet. You don’t think a coach wants national airtime every weekend, instead of one or two measly Saturday afternoon games regionally shown on CBS or ABC per season?

    The next Pac-10 commissioner should make it the top priority to restructure and renegotiate the current television contract.


    Zero recruits

    That Class of 2009 recruiting class? Nothing. The next head coach will start from scratch when it comes to the 2009-10 campaign. Not one originally-committed recruit stuck around to wait and see what UA athletics director Jim Livengood would do. At this point, Livengood can’t waste time with his search process, because those uncommitted late-blooming recruits – such as Kyle Fogg was last year around this timeÿ- are quickly evaporating from the open field.

    High expectations

    Tucsonans think it’s a birth-given divine right for Arizona to make the NCAA Tournament year after year. It’s been 25 years since the Wildcats experienced March sadness, and anything less than a Tournament berth is considered unacceptable. Even in the worst of circumstances – Lute Olson’s back-to-back sudden leave and eventual retirement – it was still expected that Arizona would “”at the very least”” make the Tournament.


    The state of Arizona is arguably one of the hardest hit by the current economic recession, due to the crash of the housing market and foreclosures in once-quickly growing areas like the outskirts of Phoenix. While the UA athletics department is self-sustained financially, netting profits driven by the UA hoops team, it’s the boosters that will certainly need to put up big bucks for a salary.

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