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NCAA settlement: If corporate dollars save minor sports, bring on Publix Stadium! | Whitley

David Whitley
Gainesville Sun

Close your eyes and picture of the pageantry of college football.

The Sooner Schooner. The Gator Chomp. Chief Osceola planting the spear on the Zaxbyֱs logo at Doak Campbell Soup Stadium.

Wait, what?

The NCAA approved on-field logos last week. It wonֱt be long until stadiums have corporate names and Ohio State trades its Buckeye helmet stickers for KFC decals.

The natural reaction is to say must be rolling over in his grave. I want to join him, then I think about the NCAA Outdoor Track Championship.

In case you missed it, and you probably did, it came down to the final race last Friday. Floridaֱs 1,600-meter relay team needed to finish no worse than third for the Gators to win it all.

It got third.

Gator fans who donֱt know a baton from a banana exulted in their school winning a third straight menֱs national championship. That kind of joy could become extinct thanks to the NCAAֱs recent antitrust settlement.

Long story short, schools will be paying about $20 million a year to current and former athletes. Cost cutting is in the air. Nobodyֱs definitively saying non-revenue sports are endangered, but everybodyֱs talking about it.

Theyֱre also screaming for more revenue streams. On-field logos could be worth about $4 million a year.

They could also lead to larger sponsorships that would immerse athletic departments in corporate schlock. Hey, one manֱs schlock is another manֱs sports lifeline.

So close your eyes and envision UF sports without a golf team, or no softball games at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, no more Olympic swimmers or track or tennis teams.

The thought of football logos is cringey. The prospect of a college campus without minor sports is a lot worse. ֱ

Stud of the Week: UF track queen Parker Valby. She won the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races to become the first female to win five NCAA distance titles in one academic year. Yes, the most accomplished athlete on campus weighs about 120 pounds.

Stud II: Whoever came up with the T-shirt that some U.S. fans wore at the Phillies-Mets series in London ֱ ֱThe British Blew a 13 Colony Lead.ֱ

Stud III: UF track coach Mike Holloway. If every coach were as successful, Florida would have to build a new stadium just to hold the trophies.

Dud of the Week: USA Basketball, for leaving Caitlin Clark off the Paris Olympic team. The selection committee apparently feared Clark would attract millions of new viewers and help popularize womenֱs basketball around the world. ֱ

Florida is the only school that had teams make the Womenֱs and Menֱs College World Series, though I still think the menֱs death-defying exploits might be a hallucination. ֱ

Blooper of the Week: Dodgers third baseman Kike Hernandez booted a ground ball last week while being interviewed on the Apple TV+ broadcast. He later admitted the in-game interview might have been a distraction, but he wouldnֱt stop doing them.

ֱNo, because weֱre getting paid,ֱ Hernandez said. ֱI like money.ֱ

Players get $10,000 for one inning of in-game chit-chat. With an average salary of only $4.5 million, players need all the scratch they can get. ֱ

Kudos to Pat Sajak, who retired from ֱWheel of Fortuneֱ last week after 41 years. A wistful Sajak noted how NIL has changed the game, and said he wanted to leave before Vanna White transferred to ֱLetֱs Make a Dealֱ. ֱ

Iֱd start watching MMA if theyֱd start doing in-fight interviews with the fighters. ֱ

Texas welcomed recruiting targets this past weekend with a line of Lamborghinis revving their engines outside the schoolֱs football complex. Ohio State plans to counter by parking a Lear Jet outside every recruitֱs hotel suite. ֱ

Iֱd start watching ֱWheel of Fortuneֱ if Bill Belichick got Pat Sajakֱs old job. ֱ

Jun 7, 2024; Eugene, OR, USA; Members of the Florida Gators men's team and coach Mike Holloway celebrate after winning the team title during the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY ֱ

The FBI last week released a 475-page memo on its investigation into the murder of O.J. Simpsonֱs ex-wife. It said the killer wore size 12 Bruno Magli shoes, a number 32 Buffalo Bills jersey, was spotted at the airport running to the Hertz counter and sometimes answered to ֱJuiceֱ or ֱֱ

Based on that, the jury concluded it couldnֱt have been O.J. ֱ

ֱWheel of Fortuneֱ gave away about $250 million in cash and prizes during Pat Sajakֱs reign. Texas A&M is expected to top that during this weekendֱs recruiting visits. ֱ

This Just In: USA Basketball has recommended that the Louvre leave the Mona Lisa off the Paris Olympics Museum Tour. ֱ

Pat Sajakֱs farewell speech:

ֱIֱve always felt that the privilege came with a responsibility to keep this daily half hour a safe space for family, fun, no social issues, no politics, nothing embarrassing, I hope. Just a game.ֱ

No politics, social issues or embarrassments?

That explains why Sajak never became commissioner of the NFL, MLB or NBA. ֱ

Thatֱs all the space we have for this weekֱs Whitleyֱs Believe It or Not. If I committed an error, please blame it on my in-column interview with Apple TV+.

David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. Follow him on X @DavidEWhitley