Are Coaches Part of College Basketball's Problem or Part of Solution?

The Billings Gazette (Billings, MT), May 8, 2018 | Go to article overview

Are Coaches Part of College Basketball's Problem or Part of Solution?


Louisville head coach Rick Pitino late in the second half of a 74-69 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Region semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on March 28, 2014. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS) Charles Bertram

After the NCAA's Commission on College Basketball made its recommendations about cleaning up the sport, a question arose: Are coaches part of the problem or part of the solution?

This either/or has been on the mind of Jim Haney, the executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. In a video response to the Commission's recommendations, he acknowledged the tidal wave of negativity created by last fall's news of an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting.

"The integrity of our game (and) the reputation of our coaches and our coaching profession took a huge hit," Haney said.

The subsequent arrests of four coaches, he added, would lead critics to assume the worst of all coaches.

"That we lacked integrity," he said. "That we could not be trusted."

Not helping Haney's case was an NCAA announcement last week that a Division III soccer coach - a Division III soccer coach? - ran afoul of NCAA justice by having his father, who happened to be a booster of the program, co-sign a loan for an athlete. Subsequently, the athletics director violated the NCAA's ethical conduct rules when he denied that he had approved the loan arrangement, the D-III Committee on Infractions decided.

As for the FBI investigation, recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer of 247 Sports spoke plainly.

"The problem is not shoe companies," he said. "The problem is the college coaches. Where do you think the cheating starts? Why does the shoe company have an influence? Because the coaches will use them."

These same coaches want to be included in the decision-making about college basketball's future.

"Just as we were included as a problem in the sport, we needed to turn that around and be part of the solution," Haney said.

When the FBI investigation made headlines last fall, Haney made a statement about how coaches adhere "to the highest standards of lawful, ethical behavior."

This amused David Ridpath, the president of the reform-minded Drake Group.

"Well, I know Jim, OK?" he said at the time. "We've been acquainted over the years. Jim represents basketball coaches so (chuckles) it doesn't surprise me that he's going to say something like that."

Ridpath, who formerly worked in rules compliance, said last fall that the FBI's findings of corruption were an "open secret" in the world of college basketball recruiting.

"I probably won't buy it from too many coaches if they say that they've not been involved in this," he said.

Of course, Rick Pitino has become the face of the FBI investigation.

He lost his job as Louisville coach, as did U of L Athletics Director Tom Jurich in the wake of allegations of a six-figure payment to a prospect's family. …

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