Pitt Athletics lives and breathes vicariously through the athletic institutions of the University. Without teams and games and players to market, report on, and analyze, Pitt Athletics would have no base upon which to perform the myriad activities that augment the community’s connection with its sports programs.
With that in mind, if the goal is to assess the avenues of success for Pitt Athletics, it’s self-evident that a star performer, such as Kenny Pickett (graduated class of 2022), should be to Pitt Athletics what the shark is to the remora – Pitt Athletics must seek commensal relationships with their players. They should ride the success of the players, and in turn ensure that the players are showered with positive attention from the media and the community. The better the players perform, the more they can be promoted, heightening their confidence, potentially improving their performance further, on and on in a reciprocal relationship. The players themselves are the greatest business opportunity for Pitt Athletics.
Despite all that has just been argued, Pitt Athletics’ dependence on the players can also be a double-edged sword, for two reasons. The first is that, with any public figure, if the person does something careless or behaves in a negative manner on the public stage, that in turn hurts the related entities, as well. If a player were to lose themself to debauchery and if the story were to go public, Pitt Athletics would suffer. Also, and perhaps more pertinently, players eventually graduate. Kenny Pickett won’t be playing for Pitt this Fall. That is not to say that the Pitt football team will be any worse than it was last year, and by all means that’s quite a high bar to begin with, but it is worth recognizing that Pitt Athletics has lost a major asset, simply by the design of the organization in which it operates. For this reason, Pitt Athletics has to be cognizant that their successes driven by a single player will, within only a few years, disappear. They must work to put many eggs in multiple baskets.
As for my own personal interest in the collegiate athletic industry, I would love to explore the negotiations with high school players, as colleges seek to recruit top talent. The whole process of drafting and signing scholarship deals (similarly to professional teams simply hiring their players) intrigues me.