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.
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