V-MAIL | May 22
Q: What do you think about paying student-athletes? How would it affect college sports? -- Ben Keller, Columbus, Ohio
VITALE: I've often said that student-athletes deserve some spending money. With the mega-dollars out there, the revenue from television in the big-time sports, I would like to see them get a little more than the scholarship -- not to say that the cost of education isn't a big expense these days. I would like to see each college athlete get a few hundred dollars a month. Anyone who doesn't believe that being a student-athlete isn't a year-round situation has to be kidding themselves. Athletes don't have the time to get a part-time job because of weight training programs, summer school, etc.
Q: How can you say LeBron will be a better NBA player than Carmelo? LeBron spent last season dominating on the high-school level, but Carmelo dominated on the collegiate level and in the Final Four against much stronger competition. Yes, LeBron could be better in the NBA, but 'Melo deserves to be viewed as the best guy coming into the draft. His attitude is more mature than LeBron's, and he's more team-oriented. 'Melo is the kind of guy who will win rings. -- Jay Hill, Syracuse, N.Y.
|LeBron James led his high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary, to three state titles in four years.|
VITALE: This debate is like asking who you like better between Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. The bottom line is you can't go wrong. It's like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. They're both superstars. I love Carmelo, but LeBron has a special charisma about him and a special way of passing the basketball. It isn't a matter of not liking Carmelo; I was asked who I would like to start with if I had to choose one or the other. I picked LeBron.
Q: What effect would Miami, Syracuse and Boston College moving from the Big East to the ACC have on hoops in each conference? Where will that leave Big East teams like UConn, St. John's and Georgetown? -- Pete, New York
VITALE: It would certainly do a lot of damage to the Big East. Schools like Connecticut, Georgetown and St. John's would be affected. I feel for UConn AD Lew Perkins and the Huskies, since they worked so hard to build up the football program and get a new stadium. Think about the tradition and history of the league with Georgetown and St. John's facing Syracuse. John Thompson, Lou Carnesecca, Jim Boeheim. It's a sad situation, to be honest with you.
Q: I am a University of Detroit alumnus. I was a member of the U of D fencing team for four years (1985-89), and every day during that time I walked past the photos from your coaching tenure, the displays for Dave DeBusschere and the murals asking "Are you the next Detroit All-American?" in Callahan Hall. Reflecting upon the past success of the school, and the recent success of our basketball program under coach Perry Watson, I have a question for you: In light of the potential shakeup in the college hoops world, is there any possibility that Detroit could be included in the potential new Catholic league? I have always hated the Horizon League. Detroit has nothing in common with Wright State, Cleveland State, etc. other than geography. I have not heard Detroit mentioned with this potential league, and it's probably too much to hope for, but I would love to get your thoughts. -- Chris DeLuca, Mason, Ohio
VITALE: Detroit would be a natural. Get the Motor City in there for advertising, public relations, get the auto dealers involved. I feel the Titans could bring an attractive package, especially in basketball. They are very valuable to the Horizon League right now. To me, Detroit should be involved with the likes of Xavier and Marquette. When I was coaching at Detroit, the games against Marquette were special battles in terms of fan interest. Perry Watson has done a phenomenal job coaching, but there are not a lot of attractive names in the Motor City.
Q: Although I think there needs to be a harsh penalty for schools that cheat, it's a bit unfair that Michigan got an additional one-year postseason ban. The mission statement of the NCAA infractions department is not to punish the innocent. Why should Daniel Horton and Co. suffer? What price will Chris Webber pay? Your thoughts? -- Ken, Grand Rapids, Michigan
VITALE: I agree with you that it's unfair to punish coach Tommy Amaker and the current players, especially after Michigan was ineligible for postseason play last year. I recently had a column on this topic on my web site. It's a shame that the current players pay the price, but the penalty is against Michigan. I understand the school is appealing the ban from postseason play for 2003-04.
Q: Do you think it's at all inappropriate that you own a horse with Louisville coach Rick Pitino, whom you're supposed to cover in an objective fashion? -- Childs Walker, Baltimore
VITALE: I think that argument is stretching it. What about writers who have written books about people they cover? They have often covered those subjects in a professional way. I want people to sit back and evaluate what I do and how I react to Rick Pitino and his situation. The bottom line is, he is a Hall of Fame-caliber coach. I will probably praise him and he will earn that praise. If he should be criticized, I will criticize him. The fact that I'm involved with this hobby doesn't factor in.
What people have to understand is that Rick has known about my love of horses for years. When I was a young coach at Detroit, we would take journeys during the summer to Claiborne Farms and Spendthrift Farms, walking around, taking pictures, enjoying the horses. I saw Secretariat, Seattle Slew and many others. When Rick found out that he would be involved in this horse, he called me and asked me if I had an interest in 25 percent ownership of a 2-year-old horse. I said yes without a doubt. Conflicts never even entered my mind.
My bosses at ESPN have been well aware of this, and they have been very supportive. There has been no negative feedback, and as long as they say that it's OK, it's OK by me. Rick told me that if you think you'll come in and make lots of money, think again. It's very difficult, but if you want to have fun ... and I've had fun already, as I took my granddaughter Sydney to watch the horse in Ocala, Florida. She had so much fun petting the horse. It has been a worthwhile investment already.
Q: First, I would like to say that I am a huge fan of yours, and I think you do a great job with college basketball. I also wanted to ask if you ever thought about going back into coaching again. -- Kevin Lucas, East St. Louis, Illinois
VITALE: I coach Indiana on Monday, Kentucky on Tuesday, Duke on Wednesday and North Carolina on Saturday. Are you kidding me? I don't want to worry about recruiting or boosters these days. I am undefeated over the past 24 years, baby!