Feb. 12, 1998

For Hicks, A Life of Coaching Investments and Basketball

As a point guard for Virginia in the late 1970s, Tom Hicks acted like a coach on the floor. The lessons he picked up from two seasons with coach Terry Holland's teams apparently rubbed off. During the day, Hicks coaches investments and finances as first vice president for Prudential Securities in Salt Lake City, Utah. Then he goes back to the hardwood coaching three teams -- a freshman boy's team at a local Catholic high school, a second grade team for one of his three daughters, and a kindergarten team for another daughter. So when does he find time to catch his breath? "I don't," Hicks laughed from his office. "We just survive."

Holland initially recruited the Long Island native when he was head coach at Davidson. But Hicks opted to attend Tulane University in New Orleans "which had something of a pipeline from New York in those days," he said.

After two years there, though, Hicks transferred to Virginia where Holland was the head coach.

"It was a better program and I knew the coach," Hicks said. "It was better competition and, just as important, UVa had a very good medical school."

The 6-2 Hicks was a reserve guard behind Bobby Stokes in 1977-78 and Stokes and Jeff Jones in 1978-79. He led the team with 67 assists in 1978 and averaged 2.4 points per game as part of the third Virginia team to win 20 games in a season. A good defensive player, Hicks also shot 76 percent from the line in more limited duty as a senior, when he averaged 2.0 points and 2.8 assists in 16 games. Hicks ended up in Salt Lake City after a brief excursion into pro basketball. He was the last guard cut by the New York Knicks in 1979 and tried out for the Utah Jazz before being sidelined by a broken ankle.

A pre-med and English student, Hicks ultimately passed on medical school for a career in finance.

"After I was done playing, I just didn't want to go back to medical school," he said. "That was enough for me."

Instead, he has been in the financial services industry for 14 years with Shearson American Express and its spinoffs, and now Prudential Securities. The firm employs about 40 workers in his Salt Lake City office. Hicks said most of his business is geared toward a consultant approach -- selecting money managers, mutual funds, and bond managers for clients -- as opposed to jumping on the hot stock tip of the day.

"Those were the old days when you tracked stocks and stocks only," he said. "That's still the sizzle of the business, but it's become a dinosaur because there are so many other financial options out there."

If financial services have grown more complex, so too has basketball, Hicks said. "You'd be surprised at how far [high school] freshman have come," said Hicks, who rebates his stipend to the school at which he coaches. "I have freshmen who can do things that I could not do as a high school senior. All those people who say players were better in the old days -- there's not a chance," he said.