It’s been reported that the Maryland Terrapins will fire head football coach Ralph Friedgen today and are seeking to replace him with former Texas Tech madman Mike Leach.Buried in Joe Schad’s ESPN report was this curious line:
“Leach … has the strong support of Under Armour, the Baltimore-based athletic apparel company run by a former Maryland player, sources said.”
Look, everyone knows that boosters and sponsors call the shots in college sports, but you’re not supposed to be so blatant about it.
Does Maryland’s athletic director really need to get the team’s uniform supplier on board with any hiring decisions? Worse, does Under Armour founder Kevin Plank get veto power over head coaching decisions at his alma mater?
The answer to both of those questions is, “Yes.” Not explicitly, of course. They are still a state school and Under Armour is “merely” the logo on the uniforms. But as Schad’s line proves, athletic director Kevin Anderson wouldn’t be making this move if he didn’t have the support of his biggest backer.
After all, Plank and other boosters will likely be the ones rounding up the $2 million needed to buy out Friedgen’s contract. He may not be on Oregon — sorry, NIKE — CEO Phil Knight’s level yet, but Plank wouldn’t be contributing to those scholarship funds if he didn’t approve of where the school was headed.
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