But any ambitions he had to become the next Bobby Knight ended after he got his first taste of the marketing of sports and entertainment. That led to a thirst that has landed him one of the more prominent jobs in the sports marketing business, where he will have a particularly strong role in 1998.
In his Coca-Cola sports post -- he's also a VP in the company's marketing division -- Mr. McCune oversees the soft-drink giant's sponsorships of the Olympics and the World Cup. And next year will see the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and the World Cup in France.
But don't think of Mr. McCune, 40, as a former jock who has found an afterlife in sports marketing.
"I'm an active participant in sports, but I wouldn't use the term sports fan," said Mr. McCune. "I'm in the marketing business. I'm passionate about how sports can be a vehicle for our company to link with consumers, drive our business and get results."
EARLY STINT AT A-B
Mr. McCune was trained in how to marry business with the pleasure of sports. After graduating from Wittenberg in 1979, he got his MBA in sports marketing from Ohio University, one of the first schools to offer such a program.
After his two-year coaching stint, Mr. McCune went to work for Anheuser-Busch, where he held several key positions within the company's media, sports marketing and brand-management departments. He came to Coca-Cola in 1994 as assistant VP-director of strategic media.
Mr. McCune was promoted to his current post in July, replacing Stu Cross, who earlier was appointed president of Coca-Cola's Central America/Caribbean division. He's now gearing up to implement programs that leverage the two marquee sponsorships.
In Japan, Coca-Cola will use the Winter Games to build its Georgia coffee brand, which will sponsor the Olympic torch relay. The Coca-Cola brand will be positioned as refreshment for fans attending the Games, while Aquarius -- a PowerAde-like sports drink marketed in Japan -- will be positioned as refreshment for athletes.
With the World Cup, Coca-Cola will pursue the world's youth. Through its Coca-Cola Youth Program, the company will send 1,600 kids to France next summer to serve as flag bearers and ball kids and represent their respective countries in pre-match soccer contests.
Coca-Cola will leverage its Winter Olympics and World Cup sponsorships in countries around the globe. Mr. McCune is looking to refine his company's sports marketing strategy with a think globally, act locally approach.
"The Olympics and the World Cup are global in nature but they are consumed locally by fans in each market in ways that are most relevant to them," he said, "whether that be watching games on TV, attending games in person, or purchasing licensed products.