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Old 08-26-2008, 12:28 PM  
Pitt Gorilla Pitt Gorilla is offline
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NCAA to crack down on "unethical", Chalmers-like combo deals

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...hoop.thoughts/

During a time of year when college basketball usually doesn't generate much interesting news, Baylor coach Scott Drew caused a few ripples last month when he hired a man named Dwon Clifton to be his director of player development (whatever that is). The reason this hire was noteworthy is that Clifton had been coaching a summer team called D-One that features John Wall, a 6-foot-4 point guard from Raleigh, N.C., whom many people (including myself) consider to be the best high school senior in America.


No doubt Drew can credibly claim Clifton is qualified for the job. He played at Clemson and UNC-Greensboro before competing professionally for one season in Portugal. Drew can also credibly claim he didn't get an explicit guarantee from Clifton that Wall will sign with Baylor.


Yet, I can also credibly claim two things: First, Clifton would not have been hired had he not had been Wall's summer coach. And second, as surely as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning, John Wall will be a Baylor Bear.


Contrary to what I've seen written elsewhere, the act of hiring a coach for the purpose of signing a player is explicitly against NCAA rules. But the practice has become so commonplace, it's understandable why people would assume it was kosher. Consider, just to take one example, the hero of last season's NCAA championship game, Mario Chalmers. His father, Ronnie, was an assistant who was hired by Kansas coach Bill Self right before Mario's freshman season. Indeed, it's ironic that the hero of Kansas' 1988 national championship team, Danny Manning, also led the Jayhawks to the title with his father, Ed, sitting on the KU bench as a member of the coaching staff.


As I've written before, this practice has been so prevalent for so long that on some level it's understandable why a coach like Baylor's Scott Drew, who is trying to build a winning program at a school that has never had one, would subject himself to charges of unethical conduct. Because if he didn't hire Clifton in an effort to sign Wall, surely someone else would have. That's why you haven't heard too many coaches complaining about Clifton's hiring, privately or publicly. To paraphrase Hyman Roth in The Godfather: Part II, this is the business they've chosen.


Even so, coaches across America should be forewarned: Some people who oversee college basketball do not like how they've been conducting business. And they're fixing to change it.


The change has begun in the NCAA's enforcement office. This spring, the NCAA created a three-person group that will be devoted to monitoring and enforcing compliance in men's basketball. This is an unprecedented move that reflects a growing concern inside the NCAA that the sport is not being conducted ethically. A prime area of concern for the group is the practice of hiring coaches to get players in blatant violation of NCAA rules.


"We recognize there's a definite issue here, and it's been growing and developing for years," says LuAnn Humphrey, the NCAA's associate director of enforcement and a member of the newly formed group. "It's very difficult at times to prove that these [hires] are being done for the specific intent to secure the recruitment of a prospect, but that doesn't mean the enforcement staff is going to turn a blind eye. We don't want to publicize how we're going to go about it, but I will say to you we're going to be a lot more aggressive in our inquiries."


Humphrey adds that coaches "are getting a little too comfortable" with the fact that intent is hard to prove, but that is the reality her staff is facing. That's why no school has faced major sanctions for violating the rule since New Mexico State was hammered in 1996.


The other way the NCAA can crack down is by passing tougher legislation. That was one of the ideas suggested by the initial working group that was assembled to address the problems facing youth basketball. You may remember the big press conference the group put on at the Final Four last year headlined by NBA commissioner David Stern and NCAA president Myles Brand. The main purpose of that event was to announce a new initiative aimed at reining in abuses in summer basketball, but buried among the set of recommendations was some pretty stark language about how a new rule addressing connect-the-dots hires might read.

Noting that over the years there have "been numerous instances of an institution hiring either a relative or coach of a recruit at a time that was proximate to the prospect's initial enrollment," the group offered the following recommendation in its summary report: "When an institution hires an individual who has either coached or is related to a prospect who ultimately enrolls at that institution, there should be a rebuttable presumption that the hiring violates NCAA legislation. This presumption would be triggered if the individual were hired within two years, either before or after, of the prospect's initial enrollment at the institution. The burden would then be on the institution to prove to the enforcement staff that the hiring did not violate NCAA rules."


In other words, you're guilty until proven innocent.


This kind of idea might sound good when it's discussed by a bunch of hand-wringers in a hotel conference room, but in practice it would be difficult to apply. Besides the difficulty of proving intent, the proposal opens up a Pandora's box of suspected improprieties taking place in other areas of college athletics. For example, when I mentioned this proposal to Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, who is a member of the NABC's board of directors, he countered by mentioning the common practice of athletic directors and university presidents using executive search firms to help them fill coaching vacancies -- after those same search firms had helped that same AD or president get their own jobs. "If we're going to pass this rule in men's college basketball," Hewitt says, "then I want [a rule] passed that when a search firm hires you, you are disqualified from using that search firm in the future. Because that's pretty prevalent right now."


Another problem facing the potential rule change is that it might violate antitrust laws. The NCAA does not have a good recent track record on this front. In 1999, the NCAA had to pay a $54 million settlement as a result of its efforts to create a "restricted earnings" position on men's basketball coaching staffs. Three years ago, the NCAA had to pay $56.5 million to settle an antitrust case brought by the NIT, which had challenged the NCAA's rule requiring teams to accept an invitation to play in the NCAA tournament. Even if a rule along the lines of what the youth basketball issues group proposed were passed by the membership, it's far from clear whether it would hold up in court.


For Hewitt, the more troubling aspect of this dialogue is that it singles out men's college basketball for extra scrutiny and punishment. "Why do we always assume that basketball coaches are the only guilty parties working in the NCAA?" he asks. "I'm not na´ve, I know there are some dirty deals, but I don't see anything wrong with a kid wanting to be around somebody who he's known a long time and makes him feel safe. It's called mentorship."


In the end, there's only so much the NCAA can do to prevent these package deals from happening. "This all boils down to one thing: ethics," says Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, who is also on the NABC's board of directors. "Obviously there are things done in every business that are unethical, but can you really legislate that? The bottom line is, this is a very competitive business."


And given the way business is conducted in college basketball these days, it's hard to argue Scott Drew hasn't just made one very shrewd move.
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:31 PM   #2
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:33 PM   #3
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:34 PM   #4
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:39 PM   #5
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:44 PM   #6
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Behind the NCAA's new fight against package deals

how nice of YOU to make up your own title so as to include Chalmers.
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:45 PM   #7
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:46 PM   #8
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:48 PM   #9
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:48 PM   #10
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This practice has been going on for 50 years. The NCAA is suddenly self-righteous and we now have to pray at the altar of NCAA indignation?
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:50 PM   #11
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Why didn't Self beat Baylor to this coach?
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:51 PM   #12
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:54 PM   #13
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KU is always cheating.../NCAA
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:54 PM   #14
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Old 08-26-2008, 12:55 PM   #15
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Nice try.....
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