By ELENA DE ALFREDO
Senior small forward Austin Rettig became the first nominee in UT men’s basketball history to be a part of the 2017 Dark Horse Dunker Fan Vote Contest, released on Feb. 14.
“It was a surprising feeling being selected, especially because I was notified the day the voting started,” Rettig said. “What I expect to get out of this process is to be able to utilize my marketing degree and apply strategy to boost my likeliness of winning—I am in it for the experience both ways.”
In order to be eligible for the Dark Horse Dunker Contest, collegiate athletics administrators must submit the players to participate on this competition. The official rules state that participants must be in good standing academically and in process to graduate at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Also, contest members should be players who are 18 years old or older, have completed their eligibility and are legal U.S. residents.
Once the potential participants are presented, is the contest’s sponsor, State Farm Insurance, and its administrator, Intersport, Inc., who select the contestants from the options offered. The committee picks the players based upon their skills, academic performance, college career statistics and leadership qualities.
Rettig is UT’s co-captain, and is also one of the offensive keys for Tampa as he averages 12.5 points per game (ppg) and 3.1 rebounds per game (rpg), shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. UT’s communications department followed up Rettig’s flying abilities throughout the years and decided to sponsor him as candidate for this event.
“It is our job to identify all of the ways to promote our student-athletes,” Assistant Athletic Director of Athletic Communications Tom Kolbe said. “We provided clips leading up to the official release, which allowed him to be ultimately selected—It continues to be a group effort in terms of promoting the contest and getting out the vote on his behalf.”
The Dark Horse Dunk Contests consists of four voting periods, where fans would be able to free vote once per day on multiple devices at the website, www.darkhorsedunker.com.
First voting period: From Feb. 14 at 12:00 p.m. to Feb. 21 at 12:59 a.m. The first round includes a bracket with all 16 players selected, arranged in two groups of eight players who are paired up on one-to-one match-ups. The players who finished with the most valid votes from each match-up will be the one who passed on to the next round.
Second voting period: There will be a total of eight players who advanced to this round. Fans will be able to vote on the website out of the first-round winners from Feb. 22 at 12:00 p.m. to March 1 at 11:59 a.m.
Third voting period: A total of four players will make it to this third round. Individual participants will be featured in the same website where the voting period will be available between Mar 2 at 12 p.m. and Mar 9 at 11:59 a.m.
Fourth voting period: Two players make it to this round. The winner will be determined from the player who has the most valid votes between Mar 10 at 12:00 p.m. and Mar 17 at 12:29 a.m.
The player who ultimately earns the most votes from the last head-to-head match-up will be selected to compete in the State Farm College Slam Dunk & three-point Championships. The best college high-flyers and sharp-shooters will participate on this annual event held in the Final Four host city. The contest will be broadcasted live on ESPN during the Final Four Weekend in Phoenix, March 30 at 10 p.m.
Rettig is looking to be the second Sunshine State Conference (SSC) representative on winning the State Farm Dark Horse Contest, as guard/forward Yunio Barrueta from Barry University is the reigning champion.
“I am always working on my jumping ability, so I guess it is safe to say that I am already working on my dunks,” Rettig said. “I am definitely going to seek advice from other high flyers on my team to expand my arsenal.”