IUPUI coach has big plans for shoe mission Print
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Tuesday, 11 August 2009 10:59
NCAAB Headline News

 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -The man who made it chic to stomp his feet during games, coach barefoot for charity and turn his shoe drive into a global cause wants to expand his mission.
IUPUI basketball coach Ron Hunter said he has a new partner to help collect shoes in Colorado-based Crocs Inc. and a new proposal to get college and prep coaches more involved in the cause.
``The Pac-10 has a proposal out to eliminate foreign tours and coaches are trying to make sure it doesn't pass,'' Hunter said. ``So I'm saying instead of stopping the foreign tours, let's make it educational and say that if you go on a foreign tour, you have to do something to give back to the children in those countries.''
Hunter gained national attention last season when more than 300 youth, prep and college coaches joined Hunter in going barefoot to help benefit the Samaritan's Feet program.
The new idea would require basketball teams that travel abroad to play to do something for the needy children in those countries. Hunter believes the trips can be a life-changing event, as it was for him.
ly sent to the NCAA, and Hunter is not suggesting that this should only involve his pet project, shoe distribution. It is expected to be discussed at the next National Association of Basketball Coaches board meeting.
NABC executive director Jim Haney said he has not surveyed coaches about Hunter's proposal, but he believes there will be little opposition.
``I think it's one of those things where you say, 'Gee, that's a really good idea, why weren't we doing this before?''' Haney said. ``The benefits of taking a team on tour are multi-fold and one of those is experiencing that country.''
Hunter has done it his own way.
Last year, he distributed shoes in Peru, and this week, he's heading to Costa Rica with players from Bowling Green's women's basketball team.
But Hunter wants to make this as easy as possible for those who want to be involved.
With the backing of Crocs, Hunter has offered to provide shoes for other teams. The partnership will give Hunter access to 2 million shoes over the next two years, and Hunter wants to make sure all of them are handed out.
Some details in the measure are still being worked out, such as how much time teams need to spend doing charity work.
ketball and went to deliver shoes, and the other extreme, which is just going and playing basketball.''
Hunter is not content with just getting college coaches involved.
He has spoken with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association about having the state's prep coaches go barefoot in January and hopes each state athletic association will join the cause.
Hunter also is planning to add an educational component to teach children about staying healthy.
``When I saw their feet and you see the diseases on the feet that I see, you realize they don't know how to care for themselves,'' Hunter said.
At the Final Four in Detroit, the NCAA helped Hunter distribute shoes to needy children in that city. Hunter plans to do the same thing throughout Indiana when the Final Four is held at Lucas Oil Stadium, and he's hoping it will become an annual event.
In fact, Hunter is so committed to this mission that he would leave coaching at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to get it done.
``I had back surgery in May so I sat around and contemplated whether I wanted to coach any more because I want to do this for the rest of my life,'' he said. ``But I realized coaching is my vehicle to do this. Coaching is what I do, it's not who I am.''

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