AOL News has a new home! The Huffington Post.

Click here to visit the new home of AOL News!

Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Courtney Paris Backs Ridiculous Promise

Apr 6, 2009 – 1:00 AM
Text Size
Oklahoma's Courtney Paris will put her money where her promise is.

One month, and one season-ending Final Four loss to Louisville after saying she'd pay back the full cost of her scholarship if the Sooners failed to win a national title, Paris affirmed that a guarantee is a guarantee.

"I do make good on the guarantee," Paris said. "Not today, though. Obviously, I don't have $64,000 waiting, but I do make good on it."

And in the name of Joe Willie Namath, this couldn't be any more ridiculous.

Paris' heart was certainly in the right place when she said made the original guarantee in March after the Sooners locked up the regular season Big 12 title. But short of your occasional SEC football recruit, this isn't a pay-for-play enterprise. And even if it was, Paris more than paid the school back with this year's Final Four berth. In four seasons, she's put so many entries in the NCAA and Big 12 record books they may as well put her face on the cover. In the loss to Louisville, she scored 16 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, her NCAA record 128th double-double, 112 of which were consecutive.

And her guarantee probably did more to market the University of Oklahoma women's basketball team than anything in the history of women's basketball. Thanks to her guarantee, everyone knows who Paris is and that the Sooners are a pretty good team. Go ahead, name another Sooner women's player before Paris. We'll make a sandwich while waiting.

But the idea that paying for her scholarship was in some way taking accountability for losing is nonsense. Basketball is a team game. Joe Willie needed plenty of help in Super Bowl III. He didn't throw a single touchdown while his defense picked off the Colts four times. Put Courtney on UConn, who is currently running amok through the field, and she lives up to the promise.

The only thing Paris had to be accountable for was that she represented the university well every night, and I'm sure we'd all agree that she did.

And unless Isiah Thomas becomes a GM again and decides to draft her in the NBA, she won't be paying it back anytime soon by playing basketball. According to the WNBA collective bargaining agreement, Paris will make $44,064 in base salary next year if she's a top-four selection and a little more than $49,000 by her third year. The current maximum for WNBA contracts is just under $100,000. Even if she doubles her salary by playing in Europe in the offseason, finding a way to clear $64,000 and pay it back to the Sooners anytime in the near future is a financial feat that could land her a job with Warren Buffett.

Maybe a league sponsor will decide it's worth the publicity to drop a relative pittance even in this economy toward repaying her scholarship, or perhaps there's family money heading to the cause as her father is former NFL lineman Bubba Paris. But neither is much of a lesson in accountability.

And that's ignoring the simple fact that Oklahoma has already said it won't accept her money.

So in the end, it's a nice gesture turned just as empty as her lone trip to the Final Four. And maybe even worse, Paris will be remembered for the promise of her scholarship and not the reality of her talent.

Bad Sports Guarantees

    Oklahoma's Courtney Paris promised to give back her scholarship money -- about $64,000 -- if she and the Sooners didn't bring home the national championship. Well, the Sooners lost to Louisville in the women's Final Four. Paris says she will "make good" on her guarantee. Check out some other sports guarantees that backfired.

    Mark Humphrey, AP

    In a 2003 playoff game, Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks won the coin toss before overtime. The QB declared to the refs and a national TV audience, "We want the ball, and we're gonna score!" Hasselbeck would throw the game-losing interception on the ensuing offensive drive.

    David Stluka, Getty Images

    Wyoming coach Joe Glenn guaranteed victory over Utah before the game in 2007. The Utes would make him eat his words, trouncing the Cowboys 50-0, even pulling an onside kick when they were already up 40-0. Glenn was not amused and let Utah coach Kyle Whittingham know it with a one-fingered gesture (you know the one).

    Jae C. Hong, AP

    Tracy McGrady has made several promises that he couldn't deliver. In the 2002 playoffs, he guaranteed a victory over the Hornets that would extend the series to five games. Instead the Hornets won 102-85 in Game 4. T-Mac did score 35 points. The following year, McGrady fired up the Pistons, who were down 3-1 in the series, when he said how great it would be to "finally be in the second round." The Magic would lose the series in seven games.

    Tony Ranze, AFP / Getty Images

    Patrick Ewing made guarantee after guarantee after guarantee. We rarely, if ever, delivered. The Knicks center promised victory in many a playoff series, only to be eliminated. The nadir: Ewing guaranteed a win in Game 6 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals in 2000. The Knicks lost to the Pacers, 93-80. That was Ewing's last game with the Knicks.

    Stan Honda, AFP / Getty Images

    Former Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan predicted that the Falcons would beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII. He also called Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe a "horse" before the game. The Broncos had the last laugh, winning 34-19.

    Andy Lyons, Getty Images

    The Hall of Fame jockey probably wishes he could take this back. After winning the 1997 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness with Silver Charm, Stevens guaranteed victory at the Belmont Stakes and the prestigious Triple Crown. Silver Charm finished second, edged out by Touch Gold on the final stretch. No horse has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.

    Jon Levy, AFP / Getty Images

    The Lions quarterback declared that the team would win 10 games in 2007. "I'll keep to myself what I think we actually will win. But it's more than 10 games," Kitna said at the time. Perhaps we should have followed his own advice and kept his thoughts to himself. The Lions would finish 7-9 that season.

    Duane Burleson, AP

    What's up with Lions players and their big mouths? In 2006, wide receiver Roy Williams, now with the Cowboys, declared the Lions would beat the Bears in Week 2. The Lions lost 34-7. Williams said afterward that the Lions would win the following week. They lost that game, too.

    Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

    Sometimes, it's better to not place high expectations on a team. Thrashers general manager Don Waddell didn't get that memo. Midway through the 2005 season, the GM guaranteed his team would make the playoffs. "We'll be in the playoffs. If you want to write: 'Guarantee,' I have no problem with that," he said. Guess what? The Thrashers missed the playoffs.

    John Bazemore, AP

Filed under: Sports