Washington Assistant Chillious Charged With Violation — Fair Or Not?Posted by jstevrtc on July 22nd, 2011
Washington assistant coach Raphael Chillious now has a secondary NCAA violation attached to his name, a little gremlin that will follow him around for free for the rest of his coaching life. True, it doesn’t sound like much, but if you don’t think you did anything wrong, and you felt like you had some assurance from the NCAA that you wouldn’t be found guilty of anything, you wouldn’t want it on your record, either.
The reason we’re debating whether or not the flick on Chillious is justifiable is an article by Todd Dybas at Sportspress Northwest, and it’s a piece that you should read in its entirety for its detail and the quotes from the principals. Here’s a quick version of the story:
Chillious let a Sports Illustrated reporter shadow him as part of a story about the recruiting process. While on a recruiting trip, during a conversation with an old friend, Chillious mentioned the name of a prospect he was in town to see. The reporter, sitting nearby, wrote the recruit’s name down.
Now, there’s an NCAA rule that prevents coaches from talking about recruiting targets to members of the press. As Dybas puts it, it’s there to prevent coaches from “recruiting through the media.” Makes sense to us. Without such a rule, coaches could talk up recruits in the press like crazy, and hope that the kids they want would be impressed enough to attend their school. Knowing about the rule and not wanting to get Chillious in trouble, the reporter called the NCAA to make sure it was cool to use that in the story he was putting together. According to the SI writer, the person at the NCAA said they’d keep that in mind and they appreciated the heads-up. Sounds like everything was squared away, yes?
The story was published. Chillious still got dinged by the NCAA.
Dybas’ article says that Bruce Schoenfeld, the SI reporter, “irate” and “sick” over this. The article also has Schoenfeld providing what he calls an exact quote from LuAnn Humphrey, the person he says he spoke to at the NCAA, in which she seems to give her assurance that Chillious was in the clear. To this point, it sounds like Coach Chillious took the hit unjustifiably.
Let’s be fair, though, and honest. It’s become a habit of fans, writers, bloggers, players, coaches and even administrators to think of NCAA Committee on Infractions members as a group who were not born of human mothers, but rather emerged one day in gelatinous eggs from various lakes and rivers in and around Indianapolis, slimy and on all fours, quickly taking up and clutching their rulebooks before skittering into the sewers. Our sources tell us that this is not the case. Whether you agree with their decisions or not, they are not sitting in their offices hoping for new cases to come across their desks, seeing them as sweet chances to stick it to college athletes. That said, to think that the NCAA would deceive a reporter (in this case, Mr. Schoenfeld) and tell him everything’s cool when in fact they had every intention of charging Chillious with the secondary violation, well…that’s tough to swallow.
Indeed, look at LuAnn Humphrey’s bio on the NCAA website. She’s been in enforcement for 12 years. She’s now the “director of enforcement for the national office’s basketball focus group.” She’s an attorney and was in the Air Force as a judge advocate general. Sounds like the type of lady who might stick by her word.
We’re stuck, then, wondering what was actually said in that conversation between Schoenfeld and Humphrey. Fairness demands that we ask whether or not he may have misunderstood Humphrey during that call, or may have unintentionally left out details that Humphrey later felt warranted the ding on Chillious. We give him credit for making the preemptive call in trying to protect Chillious, but it has to be conceded that the chance of Schoenfeld not providing full details or misunderstanding Humphrey’s response is at least as likely as an NCAA official intentionally deceiving someone for the sport of it, just to score a secondary violation on an assistant coach. Finally, though we don’t think Raphael Chillious was attempting to “recruit through the media,” you have to wonder why he took the chance he did. If you’re aware of the rule, and you have a reporter following you and writing down most of what you’re talking about, why would you mention the name of a recruit?
If you’re hoping for comments from Humphrey, the NCAA, Chillious, or anyone at UW, forget it. Dybas’ article notes that Chillious has decided not to comment further, and the NCAA doesn’t comment on secondary violations. Schoenfeld has certainly had a lot to say, most of it glowing remarks about Chillious and how he did nothing wrong. Whatever happened, even though Chillious would obviously rather not have it attached to his name, it’s a small blemish, one that that any presumptive future employers of the assistant coach will ask about during the interview process and then likely dismiss with a shrug and a wave of the hand. That’s probably as it should be.