Thoughts on Fox deal
June 22, 2007
By now, everybody should know that the Nevada Board of Regents has approved a three-year extension for Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox, keeping him here until 2014.
Fox asked for the extension, according to Milton Glick, University of Nevada president.
I started wondering about two things when I heard the news.
How much of the extension was predicated on the recent raise given to UNLV coach Lon Kruger?
How much of it was predicated on the recent decision by Galena’s Luke Babbitt to defect from his verbal commitment to Ohio State and come to Nevada?
Certainly Babbitt would never dream of coming to Nevada if he didn’t think Fox was going to be around for a while. His relationship with Fox is what caused him to change his mind and stay home to play.
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Glick said Fox asked for three things – the contract extension, better academic support for his players and better practice facilities for his team.
A better practice facility is going to take what Nevada officials say they don’t have right now – lots of money.
It’s no secret that the university would like to take back Old Virginia Street Gym and eventually build a facility that would be used for volleyball games and practices, and men’s and women’s basketball practices when Lawlor Events Center is being used for a concert.
To build a facility like that is going to cost $7 or $8 million easy. I know of two schools in the WAC that have a practice facility – Boise State and New Mexico State.
The Aggies’ facility opened last year, and it certainly is nice, but can only be used for practices. The New Mexico State women play their volleyball in the spacious Pan American Center. Nevada chooses to play at the Old Virginia Street Gym because the team has more of a homecourt advantage.
I’m not sure how to comment on the academic support issue. I don’t know how many tutors the school hires every year. What I do know is that I hear plenty of reports of players not going to class on a regular basis. It hurt immensely that Demarshay Johnson was ineligible this season.
I’m glad to see that Nevada has locked up Fox for a few extra years, though we all know that coaches get out of contracts every day, and Fox’s name will continually come up whenever there is a vacancy at a big Division I school.
Look at Billy Donovan and Reggie Theus as examples.
The former went to the NBA and came back to college even though he actually signed an NBA contract and had an unsigned, but agreed upon extension, sitting on his desk. Theus, according to reports, had just signed an extension with NMSU when the Kings invited him for a second interview.
One thing I’d like to see, and I know there are many that share this opinion, is that Nevada and UNLV should play twice every year in basketball. Nevada consistently complains about having trouble finding games. It would be naturals for rivals to square off twice every year.
Maybe Bill Raggio and other politicos could get involved in this to make it become a reality. In Iowa, the three state schools – Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa have to play each other every year because it’s state mandated.
Nevada basketball is in as good a shape as it’s ever been, and Fox is a big reason for that. He took the torch from Trent Johnson and has guided the Wolf Pack to 81 wins in three seasons, including 29 wins last season when Nevada made its fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
This is the post-Nick Fazekas era, and we’ll see if the Pack can keep its NCAA streak alive with a pretty young team led by senior Marcelus Kemp. Much will depend on the improvement of JaVale McGee, junior Lyndale Burleson and sophomores Brandon Fields and Tyrone Hanson.