Leavitt calls USF-Apple deal 'extraordinary'
There won't be significant details on USF's educational partnership with Apple Inc. to provide laptop computers to all 461 Bulls student-athletes until next week, when the agreement is formally unveiled. But USF football coach Jim Leavitt commented on the partnership after Thursday's practice.
"I think it's extraordinary what (athletic director) Doug (Woolard) and President (Judy) Genshaft (have done)," Leavitt said. "I know they worked real hard on this thing, and it's really a neat deal. It's nothing but positive stuff there."
A few more notes from the comments made at USF's board of trustees meeting Thursday:
-- Some of you have commented and e-mailed, asking if the laptops represent any kind of NCAA violation. First, USF is smart enough not to enter into a partnership with a huge company like Apple without making sure it's kosher from a compliance standpoint. The NCAA's by-laws only address laptops by saying that the computers may be issued "on a checkout and retrieval basis," which is to say that students likely won't get to keep them after their playing days are over. Again, we'll know more on Wednesday.
-- In announcing the partnership to USF's board of trustees, Woolard showed a map of the Big East to illustrate the geographic separation the Bulls have from the rest of the league. "This league provides some great opportunities, but you can also see geographically, it provides some challenges for our athletes from a travel standpoint," Woolard said. "Knowing less than 2 percent of college athletes make money in their respective sports after college, I wanted to figure a way where we could put that travel time to good academic use."
-- Woolard said each student will have "access to a 13-inch MacBook Pro" laptop -- they run about $1,200 on Apple's website, though the cost can change based on memory and other upgrades. "Our intention is to create an anytime, anywhere learning environment for our students," Woolard said. That could include "accessing e-mail on a bus, at the airport prior to or after road competition, or viewing course lectures on USF's network. Student-athletes will have a tool that will allow them to be academically successful with fewer obstacles."
-- Woolard, along with Genshaft, provost Ralph Wilcox and other USF officials, visited Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., last spring. He called the deal "a unique educational partnership, which will provide cutting-edge computer and learning assistance to every one of our USF student-athletes."
-- An Apple executive on hand -- who called the partnership "a national game-changing moment, led by USF" -- mentioned that USF had impressed his company with a strong presence at I-Tunes U, a site that allows students to access nearly 6,000 educational audio and video files from the College of Education, as well as video tours of the renovated Marshall Student Center on campus.
-- Genshaft was certainly excited in telling the trustees about the partnership. "This is huge," she said. "The only university in the country where all of our student-athletes in NCAA sports have Apple laptop computers. This is incredible. It really is." Later: "Having this ability to have such a top-notch computer with our top-notch athletes, anywhere, anytime, working on the studies and aspirations that they have, I think this phenomenal. I am so thrilled for the University of South Florida to be its pilot project."