Where Have All the Basketball Fans Gone?; Jeremy Lin and Nike Renew Vows

Today in sports: Jeremy Lin and Nike have agreed to extend his endorsement deal, the ACC's empty arena problem, and Maryland football coach Randy Edsall launches another pointless torpedo after a brief moment of clarity.


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Today in sports: Jeremy Lin and Nike have agreed to extend his endorsement deal, the ACC's empty arena problem, and Maryland football coach Randy Edsall launches another pointless torpedo after a brief moment of clarity.

New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin—the man with two apartments and no pull-up jump shot—has reportedly agreed to extend his endorsement deal with Nike. Lin's been with Nike since entering the league two years ago, but as Forbes points out, "most NBA shoe contracts are for very small amounts of cash or just merchandise," unless you're a huge star. That's going to change under the terms of the new pact. Case in point: Lin currently wears the Nike Zoom HyperFuse—the same solid, reasonably priced sneaker (by Nike standards) that this Atlantic Wire bloghand wears in his weekly rec league game—but Nike's apparently planning to introduce a new blue-and-orange shoe with 'Lin' stenciled across the heel in the very near future. Last week, the first batch of Nike-branded Linsanity T-shirts were shipped out to Foot Locker stores. This week, Nike will be rolling out their first promotional campaign built around the former Harvard standout. Nobody wants to reveal what comes next, or how much money Lin stands to pocket under the new deal, but Marc Ganis, owner of the sports consulting firm SportsCorp Ltd., tells the New York Daily News Lin is likely to earn between $2 million and $4 million from Nike. Forbes notes that only 10 active NBA players make more than $5 million a year on shoe contracts, so Lin's already in some elite company. But the real money is going to come from off-the-court endorsements overseas. In this regard, Kobe Bryant is the model: He pulled in $25 million in endorsements last year, with a portfolio that included Nike (naturally), Turkish Airlines, Nubeo, and Smart Car. [Forbes and New York Daily News]

Also on the Nike front: the company takes over Reebok's NFL apparel deal on April 1. Back in 2010, Nike executive Charlie Denson alarmed football purists and people who find shimmery, reflective helmets like the ones Oregon wore in this year's Rose Bowl game distracting and vaguely bush league. They've spent the last two years downplaying that comment, but in an interview with Sports Business Daily yesterday, CEO Mark Parker vowed to "actually have some fun" with the designs. It's worth noting that team logos are controlled by the individual franchises and the league, but Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reports teams are already lining up to get the Nike treatment. The Carolina Panthers went ahead and tweaked their logo earlier in the offseason, while the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks are said to be planning major uniform overhauls. The St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers (!!) are also apparently weighing changes to their alternate jersey sets. [PFT]

University of Maryland football coach Randy Edsall—who has been unfavorably compared to a demented and incompetent P.T. boat commander in The Washington Post in recent weeks—is no longer going to restrict any of the three Terrapin starters who announced they were leaving the program last week from transferring to Vanderbilt, where very popular former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin is the head coach. This was the gentlemanly and sportsmanlike thing to do. Unfortunately, Edsall and athletic director Kevin Anderson decided to follow it up with something petty and pointless, in the form of "a formal complaint to the ACC laying out tampering charges" against Franklin. A source familiar with the specifics of the complaint says Maryland "has concerns that Vanderbilt was in contact with Maryland players throughout this past season, perhaps with the intent of recruiting them." No word on whether they think the other 24 players to flee the program in Edsall's first year were also poached. Anderson, meanwhile, might want to check on where everyone was for Maryland's home basketball game against the University of Miami on Tuesday night. [The Washington Post and DC Sports Bog, image via Patrick Stevens]

To be fair, Maryland isn't the only ACC school struggling to get fans in the seats this year. Attendance across the league is down 13.5% from the final average in 2006, a development former Wake Forest coach Dave Odom calls "disturbing and regrettable," which is exactly how someone with deep ACC ties would describe the phenomenon of people not wanting to show up and watch the league's increasingly mediocre brand of basketball. All the usual reasons are cited—players are jumping to the NBA too soon, conference expansion means traditional rivals no longer play each other twice a season. The best observation may come from University of North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who says satellite packages and bigger, clearer television sets have made the couch preferable to the venue on the majority of nights. [The Wall Street Journal]

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