I_Bleed_Green&Gold Posted May 6, 2008 Group: Member Topic Count: 0 Content Count: 526 Reputation: 0 Days Won: 0 Joined: 12/11/2007 Share Posted May 6, 2008 UT-Martin Skyhawks The logo, that angry-looking hawk with goggles, is the first sign that things may not be quite as they seem. The mark of Tennessee-Martin athletics combines the animal kingdom and human technology in a way that, on the surface, doesn't make a lick of sense. "A Skyhawk is a mythical bird that flies an airplane," explained Tennessee-Martin athletic director Phil Dane. If you can believe that a bird could -- or would ever need to -- use a plane to fly, then you're probably ready for the suspension of disbelief necessary to fathom the fact that Dane's program hangs around in the NCAA's top tier at all. According to the U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education's 2005 report on equity in athletics (the most recent one available), Tennessee-Martin's athletic budget of $1,602,051 ranks as the third smallest among Division I schools that offer football. And no D-I school, football-playing or otherwise, spends less on men's hoops. For comparison's sake, the school's stated men's basketball budget of $134,264 -- 331st out of 331 reporting schools -- is 1.8 percent of Duke's ($7.4 million). And the total athletic budget of national champion Florida ($73.4 million) could pay Tennessee-Martin's bills nearly 50 times over. There are plenty of cautionary tales out there in the NCAA about low-budget athletics, schools that make the decision to go D-I based on ego and adrenaline instead of financial feasibility and logic. "I don't think the average fan realizes what you need to be competitive at this level," said eighth-year Skyhawk head coach Bret Campbell. "It's not enjoyable to see you're last in the country in basketball budget, but that just reinforces the barriers in the way as we try to succeed." The biggest barrier by far is location. Martin (population 10,515) is nearly an hour removed from any interstate highway in tiny Weakley County and sits over a hundred miles away from either Memphis or Nashville. "Recruiting is definitely a challenge; we have to find some diamonds in the rough," said Campbell. "We try for kids who got passed over by other schools or maybe didn't get any Division I offer." So with a low budget and no bright lights to offer, what does Campbell's sales pitch sound like? "I tell them it's about people," said the coach. "It's not the bricks, it's not the city, it's the people. We're a very rural environment, and it takes a certain type of kid to thrive here and embrace the situation. And as I always say, nobody comes to Martin by accident." http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/columns/story?id=2710217 modified by Bulliever to add new message icon Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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