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Distributor removes inflatable mock Coors can from basketball court

December 2, 1997

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ An inflatable rubberized can designed to promote Coors beer is being removed from Fresno State’s basketball court in the wake of guard Chris Herren’s leaving the team to deal with substance abuse.

After Herren began a rehabilitation program last week, Fresno Bee sports columnist Bill McEwen and others criticized the university for its commercial ties with beer companies.

Coors sponsors Fresno State’s tournament, and players run onto the court through an inflatable silver tunnel that bears no brand name but resembles a can of Coors Silver Bullet beer. In addition, the game the night after Herren left the team was sponsored by Miller Light, and coach Jerry Tarkanian does ads for Budweiser.

Lou Amendola, who owns Fresno’s Coors distributorship, announced Monday he is permanently removing the tunnel from the arena.

``We don’t want to bring any disrespect to the university or our products,″ Amendola said.

Amendola said he and Fresno State administrators made the decision to remove the mock beer can from the off-campus arena.

Athletic director Al Bohl said the university appreciates the distributor’s financial support of Bulldog sports and will try to find other ways to let him advertise Coors to fans.

``We just felt, with the situation we have right now, it’s in our best interests not to have (the tunnel) up anymore,″ Bohl said. He and other university officials would not say how much Coors has paid to advertise at Fresno State games.

A spokesman for Adolph Coors Co. in Golden, Colo. said he didn’t think the tunnel would cause anyone to abuse alcohol.

``Is there a direct correlation between a tunnel athletes run through and alcohol abuse?″ asked Derrick Johnson. ``To make that connection is a huge leap.″

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