5.4.07

WHY DOES MONEY MATTER TO A "NONREVENUE SPORT" WHEN THE OBJECTIVE IS AMATEUR ATHLETICS? Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel basketball pundit Jeff Potrykus makes the case for Wisconsin's Lisa Stone.

The UW administration faces two choices during the next six weeks: Renew Stone's contract and restore the year it did not roll over last spring or fire her.

Stone has earned a renewal and an extension.

There might be athletic directors who would not view a loss in the finals of the National Invitational Tournament, playing at angels seven before large Wyoming crowds (you can only look for 1995 - 8646 -8701 in Laramie for so long) as a setback. Wisconsin apparently aspires to more.
UW's record in the last four seasons - 21-43 in Big Ten Conference play and 56-64 overall - is below the standards of Stone and the UW administration. UW's NCAA tournament drought has reached five consecutive seasons, the last season under Jane Albright and all four seasons under Stone.
Those problems, which, again, might strike many athletic directors as crying with one's mouth full, are a direct consequence of prior penny-wise, pound-foolish administrative decisions.

In May 2002, the UW athletic board declined for the second consecutive year to extend Albright's contract. Because UW decided it could not bite the financial bullet and buy Albright out for $240,000 at the time, she essentially became a lame-duck coach in 2002-'03, her final season.

That led to a 7-21 finish and a roster that lacked talent when Stone took over.

That 2002 decision, coming after a 2001-2002 season in which the Badgers went from being ranked fifth in the country in late January 2002 into a slide in the second half of Big Ten play (Cold Spring Shops sources suggest the teams tendencies were too predictable) and early exits from the conference and national tournaments, allowed other teams to use Jane Albright's status as an argument against signing with Wisconsin. (Does such an attitude put too much emphasis on personality? If Larry Samuelson leaves Wisconsin for Yale, would that be a reason not to study industrial economics at Wisconsin?)

There's a local angle to Lisa Stone's early troubles. Among those 21 losses in 2002-2003 was one at Northern Illinois, and the next year the Huskies were churlish guests at the Kohl Center. That team included first-year guard Stephanie Raymond, who Lisa Stone pursued.

[Ms Raymond's] mother told [Northern Star columnist Ben Gross] that [she] had at least two paths ahead of you before college.

One was to NIU, the other to Wisconsin.

The Badgers had a house visit set up with you. Instead of going through with it, you called them and said no thank you.

Your next phone call was to former NIU coach Carol Hammerle saying you were becoming a Huskie.

Wait, you said no to Wisconsin?!? Who does that?

Asking your mother why, she couldn't provide an answer either.

But she did tell me this one thing: "I often ask her, 'Did you ever regret not going to a bigger school?' But she has no regrets going to NIU. She's enjoyed all four years."

Two roads diverged in the wood ...

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