Last Updated on November 28, 2008 by Jimson Lee
I respect any athlete who gets a scholarship, especially a NCAA Div 1 scholarship, and stays the entire 4 years. Less than one percent of the 149,000 NCAA Division I athletes turn pro following their college career.
I respect athletes even more who go to school under their own terms, and preventing over racing in the NCAA schedule. Allison Felix at USC comes to mind.
We also saw LPGA (and sometimes PGA) Pro Golfer Michele Wie being full time Stanford student, and part time pro golfer.
I just want to stress the importance of education. However, you can’t blame athletes like Jeremy Wariner in turning pro after winning the 2004 Olympic 400 meters.
That being said, Walter Dix competed his full four years if eligibility with all the pressures of leaving school early to turn pro.
Here’s a great story from the July 10 article on Miami Herald. At the time, he didn’t disclose which shoe company? Would it be Nike? Adidas? Reebok?
Four days later on July 14, Walter Dix chose NIKE in a multi-million dollar deal. In theory, he could win 3 Gold medals from the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4x100m relay. That’s one more than Tyson Gay!
Dix’s decision to stay at FSU pays dividends
TALLAHASSEE — On the hot South Florida asphalt, Walter Dix figured out he was a pretty fast kid.
Dix, now a member of the U.S. Olympic track and field team, had jet engines for legs. Everyone knew it. Street football was the game of choice back then, and the neighborhood knew Dix could flat-out burn.
In the Rock Island neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale near Dillard High School, Dix first showed off his speed at age 9. His competition, a 13-year-old, was the fastest kid on the block. Dix still remembers the street: NW 24th Court.
”I beat him by a lean,” said Dix, who attended Coral Springs High. “He took me lightly, and that’s what happens.”
And that is what happened to Shawn Crawford at the U.S. Olympic trials last week. Crawford, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 200 meters, lost to Dix by a lean. It was closer than a photo finish. Five one-thousandths of a second.
Dix, a three-time national champion, qualified for the Beijing Games in the 100- and 200-meter dashes last week during the trials. He held a news conference at Florida State University on Wednesday. The news conference wasn’t necessary, but Dix had a message for the track world: Told you so.
College athletes often say that receiving an education is their priority. The truth is, few would turn down a fortune to prove it. Dix did. He shocked a lot of people last year when he turned his back on an endorsement deal worth about $1 million. He did it so he could return to FSU for his senior season and earn his degree.
”[Dix] was offered large sums of money to come out of school last year and to give up his eligibility,” said Dix’s agent, Kimberly N. Holland of Icon Management Inc. “He turned it down and remained loyal to his university.”
Then he was injured. His hamstring wouldn’t cooperate with his master plan, and it appeared Dix had missed his chance at the money. He missed most of his senior season and said his hamstring didn’t return to full strength until five weeks before the trials.
”At the time of his injury, a lot of people made their own little comments about how he should have taken his money last year,” Holland said.
“He was hearing a lot of things about how he was crazy and that he could have turned pro and still finished his degree.”
Now, with his degree in hand and seemingly nothing left to prove, Dix turned down more endorsement deals before the Olympic trials. Even his agent wanted him to sign a deal.
”I signed him a couple weeks before the trials,” Holland said. “My logic was to get the best deal for my client.
“Me being an agent, I wanted to do a nice deal before the trials that would have protected my client.”
But Dix declined all offers, telling his agent and the shoe companies that he wanted to focus on making the U.S. team. That is why Dix competed in his FSU track uniform. He wanted everyone to know that he still was a Seminole. It was a risk, to be sure. An injury or bad showing at the trials could have left Dix with nothing.
STICKING TO PLAN
”It was [Dix’s] plan from the beginning,” Holland said. “He didn’t want to talk about doing the deal before the trials. He didn’t know what was going to happen.
“But guess what? None of the shoe sponsors knew what was going to happen, either.”
What happened? Pretty much the perfect scenario for Dix, who always did things the right way. He qualified in two of the Olympics’ most recognizable events. Now, in the first post-BALCO Summer Olympics, Dix is a feel-good track story the U.S. desperately needs.
Of course, Dix’s big gamble is about to pay dividends in a big way.
Holland said Dix and a major shoe company are close to completing a deal that will make Dix an instant millionaire.
”It’s one of the most lucrative deals ever,” Holland said. “No one has gotten a deal like this.
“It was worth the wait.”