If you’ve ever wanted to walk in the shoes of your favorite college basketball coach, here’s your chance.
Thousands of basketball coaches are trading their dress shoes for sneakers this week to help fight cancer. It’s part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers program, and through Jan. 28, basketball coaches like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and North Carolina’s Roy Williams will be wearing sneakers as the American Cancer Society continues its effort to raise money for funding research to beat cancer.
Through the years, more than 2,000 coaches have participated, and more than $110 million has been raised.
The sneakers — and in some cases, ties — will be autographed by Division I coaches who participate in the program. Their signed, game-used apparel is part of a nationwide online auction. In addition, fans will be able to buy exclusive Coaches vs. Cancer ties, designed by Vineyard Vines.
Thirty percent of the proceeds from the sale of each tie will go toward the Coaches vs. Cancer program.
For more than two decades, the Coaches vs. Cancer program has partnered with the National Association of Basketball Coaches to raise money to fight cancer. The program was inspired 25 years ago by former Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart, who founded the “3-Point Attack” after his own battle with colon cancer. Stewart challenged fans to make a pledge for every 3-point shot made by his team during the 1992-1993 season. What began at Missouri soon spread nationwide as the American Cancer Society came on board in 1993 and expanded Stewart’s idea.
Since then, money raised has helped the American Cancer Society provide more than 335,000 cancer patients with rides to treatment. The money also provided more than 450,000 free nights at Hope Lodge facilities, which are accommodations used by cancer patients and their families when they have to travel for treatment.
“For the past 20 years, Suits and Sneakers has been an important element of our Coaches vs. Cancer program since coaches started lacing up,” Sharon Byers, chief development and marketing officer for the American Cancer Society, said in a statement.
Activity has been brisk for the sneakers in more than 50 eBay auctions, which, by the way, offer free shipping. Predictably, the footwear of the coaches on Tobacco Road are drawing the most interest. Williams’ sneakers are approaching $1,000 in bidding, while Krzyzewski’s sneakers have more than 40 bids with still nearly a week to go.
Other coaches whose sneakers and ties are drawing auction interest — already in three-figure territory — include Calipari, Izzo, Jay Wright of top-ranked Villanova, Kansas coach Bill Self, Arizona’s Sean Miller, Michigan’s John Beilein, Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, Arkansas’ Mike Anderson, Northwestern’s Chris Collins, Texas A&M’s Billy Kennedy and Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger.
“Cancer is a strong opponent, but it’s not as strong as us. We will beat cancer, but we need everyone on our team,” St. Joseph’s basketball coach Phil Martelli, chairman of the Coaches vs. Cancer Council, said in a statement last November. “We’ve made a lot of progress during the last 25 years, and we will continue until our help is no longer needed.”