published Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Steven Fox exposure amazing for UTC

UTC senior golfer and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox will play in the Masters this week in Augusta, Ga.
UTC senior golfer and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox will play in the Masters this week in Augusta, Ga.
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The ramifications of Steven Fox playing in the Masters alongside defending champion Bubba Watson and U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson cannot be measured in numbers.

Guesses can be made.

Having the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's "Power C" logo emblazoned on Fox's cap, shirt and golf bag is truly invaluable to the school, its athletic department and men's golf coach Mark Guhne.

"It's hard to put a dollar figure on it," said Chuck Cantrell, UTC's associate vice chancellor for university affairs. "You can't buy the front page of a newspaper. If he gets his picture in USA Today, that's not something we could have bought."

The 1996-97 UTC men's basketball team received such national recognition for reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA basketball tournament.

"There were estimates of $1 million in publicity that came with that," Cantrell said. "I think with Steven's success we could approach that."

More than 16 years have passed since the Mocs reached the Sweet 16, and no other UTC athlete has reached such a national stage.

Fox stepped onto it back in August when he won the U.S. Amateur at Colorado's Cherry Hills Golf Club by coming back from a 2-down deficit with two holes to play and winning in a playoff.

NBC showed it live, and all of the drama down the stretch. Because of weather delays, it wound up being the only live major sporting event on national television on Aug. 19 as it came to a Sunday evening conclusion.

"His victory gave us national exposure on NBC with him wearing our logo, along with his caddie, coach and father," interim athletic director Laura Herron said.

Fox, a senior who has been practicing in Augusta since Friday for his first round on Thursday, already has worn the school colors in two PGA Tour events. He wore a white hat with a yellow "C" during his practice round Monday.

"It's who knows how many dollars in free advertisement just for Steven being on national television for at least the first two rounds, and hopefully all four," Herron said.

ESPN will air the first two days of the tournament before it switches to CBS for the weekend competition. More than 4.1 million people in America watched on Friday last year, and more than 10.75 million watched Watson win a sudden-death playoff.

Playing with Watson and Simpson should give Fox plenty of opportunities to steal a moment in front of the cameras -- perhaps even on the first tee if ESPN cuts into its live morning programming.

Regardless of how much air time Fox receives during the tournament, Cantrell said the senior golfer will be featured in plenty of recruiting material that UTC will unveil later this spring and summer.

"Our theme is, 'We shall achieve,' and he has had a huge achievement," Cantrell said. "We're about to launch a new web design that will have a lot more video, and having video of a UTC guy in a green jacket would be nice video."

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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