As William Leggett reports in his TV/Radio column this week (page 37), basketballs will be ricocheting all over the screen this winter. In fact, the jump-shooting has already begun, and as fans who watched the Marquette-Notre Dame telecast on Jan. 16 found out, not all the glittering moves are being made by the players. Marquette's lustrous new uniforms, which were unveiled against the Irish, are an innovation for which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Staff Writer Jule Campbell can take credit.
Campbell's duties at SI include producing our annual swimsuit issue, such as the Zowie, it's Maui! presentation last week. Now, she may also be the only woman, says Marquette Coach Al McGuire, to have "designed uniforms for a male chauvinist sport."
"The first time I ever spoke to Al, about five years ago, he told me that he really enjoyed my swimsuit stories and always looked forward to the next one," Campbell says. "I told him I liked his eye for fashion on the court."
Such exchanges of mutual admiration continued, and last summer McGuire recruited Campbell to apply her fashion touch to basketball. Her uniforms have hooded warmup jackets of gold metallic knit, gold arrowheads on the sides of the silky shirts and socks that seem to be sequined, thanks to a band of glittery Lurex. All that dazzle was just fine with McGuire, who has always preferred way-out basketball attire. The Warriors have had seven or eight different ensembles during his 13 seasons as head coach, and his "bumblebee" uniforms, which featured horizontal blue and gold stripes, were banned by the NCAA. "Refs complained they couldn't pick out the numbers," McGuire says.
January 31, 1977
As Campbell learned, putting numbers and names where referees can read them is a big part of uniform design. "All the rules in basketball are not meant for the players. A lot of them seem to have been made to restrict the designer," she says. For example, Marquette players prefer to wear their jerseys outside their shorts. Campbell felt this made the shirts look too long, but when she tried to shorten them and still keep the Marquette logo at the bottom of the shirt fronts, she ran into a rule stipulating that there must be four inches of fabric below the logo. "That's O.K. for Bo Ellis, who's 6'9"," she says, "but you can barely tell if Butch Lee, who's 6'1", is wearing shorts."
McGuire is so pleased with Campbell's designs that he thinks her ideas may catch on with other teams. And there's good reason to believe he is right, because Jule has been prophetic before. She had the first one-piece nylon ski suit made up specially for an SI story (Nov. 13, 1967). Today that style dominates the slopes. "In June 1972 I reported that warmups would come out of the locker room, be done in bright colors and worn for leisure," she says. "Soon Head was putting out thousands of green, blue and red ones."
And with her basketball uniforms, it may turn out that Campbell has done it again.