The Adidas-backed Pump brothers have tapped into college basketball for another revenue stream. That's good for the Pump brothers -- but is it good for college basketball?
So far the NCAA has no objection, unlike its adversarial position on two of the Pumps' previous business ventures. In 2002 the NCAA asked the Pumps to stop brokering Final Four tickets, and in 2004 it closed the loophole that allowed private contractors like the Pumps to stage lucrative preseason exhibitions against college teams.
|One of ChampSearch's consulting jobs ended with UW-Milwaukee hiring Rob Jeter. (Provided to SportsLine)|
With ChampSearch, the Pumps have added to their burgeoning basketball resumé. The gregarious twins from Northridge, Calif., already were two of the most visible figures in basketball -- Adidas' answer to George Raveling of Nike or Sonny Vaccaro of Reebok.
The Pumps run the massive Double Pump youth program, with elite teams nationwide. They run recruiting spectacles like the Best of Summer Tournament, with 192 teams paying a $700 entrance fee. Until the NCAA eliminated such preseason contests in 2004, Pump teams played 60 or 70 exhibitions annually, at $15,000 or more per game.
A lot of basketball flows through the Pumps. A lot of recruits. A lot of money.
It's a bizarre combination, and it became more bizarre this spring when the Pumps entered the consulting business. The Pumps picked former Southern California coach John Robinson to spearhead football searches and former California athletic director John Kasser to lead AD searches.
Dana Pump says he will oversee most basketball searches, but for the Tennessee job ChampSearch made a special consultant of Cedric Dempsey -- who, as NCAA president from 1994-2002, tried to lessen the influence of sneaker companies like Adidas and specifically asked the Pumps to stop brokering Final Four tickets.
Dempsey told CBS SportsLine.com he did the Tennessee job as a favor to Kasser, a longtime friend, but wouldn't become a full-time ChampSearch employee.
"I could," Dempsey said, "but it wasn't anything I wanted to get associated with on a full-time basis."
Dana Pump says the Pumps' involvement in ChampSearch is a natural.
"I just think there's so many schools in need for a search format that can bring information, numbers, access and have a good feel for basketball coaches," he said. "We could really build that into a profitable business."
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton says he was considering one of five or six firms prevalent in collegiate hires when he stumbled onto ChampSearch this spring.