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Sneakergate resolved at Arkansas State

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Oct. 27, 2005

I recently had a chance to speak to Arkansas State coach Dickey Nutt. For those who don't know much about coach Nutt, he's a man who pours his heart and soul into his program.

Nutt doesn't get very much visibility, but he's one of those guys who operates in a situation without the Rolls Royce budget and incredible revenue. Let me tell you, his teams are always prepared, disciplined and competitive.

The coach recently made news when one of his players, Jerry Nichols, did not want to wear the same sneakers as his teammates. Nichols suffered an injury that he felt was caused by the sneakers he wore. That shoe was part of the school's uniform as part of its adidas contract.

The sentiment was it would be best psychologically for the young man to wear something else. It became sneakergate, but the solution has been great.

Nichols is back playing, busting his gut. His coach has nothing but praise for his high energy and desire to contribute.

What has been done, and the kid is not promoting anything, is an agreement with Nike and Adidas. Nichols is wearing a Nike shoe with the logo crossed out. Adidas is allowing this, for the benefit of the student-athlete.

He is doing something he loves, playing basketball. It is great to see this has been resolved. As I said in an earlier column, discipline is so important, as is being part of a team. Athletes should be responsible, and once you analyze this scenario, one can understand the approach that has been taken.

The good news is the coach is supportive. Nutt busts his gut, doesn't get many headlines, but for 11 years he has been dedicated as one can be. It is great to see he has his player's interest at heart.

The bottom line is, this has been settled and the young man can move on in a positive way. Everyone wins now that he's back in uniform.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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