Broadneck grad Centrowitz skipping final year at Oregon to turn pro

College SportsBusinessArts and CultureEnglandNCAACultureMatthew Centrowitz, Jr.

After taking three months to consider his options, former Broadneck track and field star Matthew Centrowitz announced Tuesday he will forgo his senior year of eligibility at Oregon and turn professional.

Centrowitz said he made the decision to improve his chances of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London.

“I’ve given it a lot of thought since the summer,” Centrowitz said by cellphone from Oregon’s campus in Eugene. “I wouldn’t have made this decision if I didn’t think it was the best thing for my running career. I’m very comfortable with it.”

Centrowitz, 22, has had a breakout year on the track. He started by winning the 1,500-meter NCAA championship and followed that with the USA Track and Field title in the 1,500. He then became the youngest American ever to medal in the 1,500 at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships when he earned the bronze medal in Daegu, South Korea, in September.

Ricky Simms, CEO of England-based Pace Sports Management and the agent Centrowitz has hired, said his newest athlete is “the hottest talent in his sport” in the world right now.

“I've called every shoe company in the world,” said Simms, who also represents sprinter Usain Bolt. “Well, just a slight exaggeration. I’ve called every major shoe company involved in track and field. He's in a very strong position to negotiate. A number of those companies are interested. Now it’s a matter of working out the contract that is best for him. The shoe contract will be his main source of financing for the next four to 10 years.”

Centrowitz’s father, also named Matthew, is a two-time Olympian and the track and field coach at American. He said he advised his son to take his time making the decision.

“I wanted him to take a month just to soak up winning a bronze medal, to enjoy it and be a kid again,” the father said. “He’s been through so much during the summer, traveling the world to compete, going from one thing to the next. I wanted him to make sure this was the way he wanted to go.

“It is, and I’m in full support. I never thought it would happen. But he took three months to consider everything and he’s excited about it. He’d been at Oregon for four-and-a-half years and wasn’t excited about another college season. This will allow him to make an easier transition from college to open competition. And this being an Olympic year, he’ll be more in control.”

Centrowitz has qualified for the Olympic trials, to be held at Oregon in late June, about a month before the Olympics.

Simms advised Centrowitz that the ideal time to turn pro financially was now, not after the Olympics.

“I think everyone will agree it is the right decision for him,” Simms said. “He has had some great results and an exceptional year. I believe he can definitely get better from here. He’s only [22] and I think he has the ability to be one of the best milers or 1,500 runners in the world for many years to come.”

Centrowitz plans to take a light course load in the spring semester to finish his sociology degree, and he will continue training with Oregon assistant coach Andy Powell, who is in charge of the team’s distance runners.

Meanwhile, Simms said he will put together an indoor racing program, lining up meets to prepare Centrowitz for the Olympics.

“Everyone in the NCAA will be going for the Olympics,” said Centrowitz, The Baltimore Sun's Male Athlete of the Year as a senior in 2007. “This will make choosing my races easier in preparation. This decision was made to better my chances. Everything is geared for that.

“I had a dream season, and I’m looking to duplicate this season. I know I’m capable of certain things, but being capable and doing it in competition are two different things. Once you’re up there, it’s hard to stay there. But ever since high school at Broadneck I’ve always been finding ways to progress. I have to stay hungry, turning pro is another way to help me do that.”

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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College SportsBusinessArts and CultureEnglandNCAACultureMatthew Centrowitz, Jr.
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