Memphis’ Near-Miss Highlights The Absurdity Of The NCAA RulebookPosted by nvr1983 on August 22nd, 2011
Over the past five years many fans of college sports have become well-acquainted with many of the NCAA bylaws related to communications (thanks to people like Kelvin Sampson, among others), but it seems like schools still find a way to break those rules. Or at least that is what the NCAA thinks. As Kyle Veazey at The Commerical Appeal in Memphis reported, the NCAA recently contacted Memphis as part of its investigation into suspected impermissible calls it had been making to Shabazz Muhammad based on an interview last July. Based on Muhammad’s report, the NCAA had its Basketball Focus Group investigate the matter. In addition to the phone calls, they also questioned Memphis on how Muhammad and other recruits had been able to fly to Memphis for visits.
However, the heart of their inquiry was based around the claim that Muhammad — not yet a senior — was making that Memphis had been “calling and calling and calling,” which would exceed the NCAA’s limit of one call per month from a school (assuming that those calls were not coming once a month). When Memphis looked into the rule, it found that it had, in fact, not even violated the rule. With a document signed by coach Josh Pastner and five other staff members, Memphis claimed that the calls were to Ron Holmes, Shabazz’s father and coach of his high school and AAU teams. Citing a clause that allows schools to speak with parents of recruits who also happen to be coaches about other prospects as frequently as they want, Memphis claimed innocence (corroborated by Holmes) and the NCAA appears to have bought that despite Shabazz previously claiming the calls were about him in prior interviews, stating, “They call my dad almost every day, talking about what they can do for me at their program, so that means a lot.”
Where does this leave us? Either Muhammad lied (exaggerated, if you prefer) to a local newspaper, or the NCAA does not even realize all the loopholes in its own rules. While it is possible that Memphis was talking to the father of the #1 recruit in the country about every other player he coached, this seems fairly dubious. To be fair to the NCAA, this would be very hard to disprove unless they were tapping the phones of either the Memphis staff or Holmes. The real issue is that regardless of whether or not the calls were about Muhammad, the NCAA does not appear to be aware of how its own rules are written. If a simple letter from Memphis with a document signed by six members of the coaching staff is enough to get a program out of the NCAA’s cross-hairs, there is something wrong with how the rules are written or how the organization is run. It is unrealistic to expect the NCAA as an entity to change, but at the very least they could simply read the rulebook to the point that they know their own rules.