Villanova Assistant Coach Doug Martin Forced to Resign — Why Was He Hired in the First Place?Posted by Chris Johnson on August 13th, 2012
Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn .
Early last week Villanova announced the hiring of assistant coach Doug Martin, who formerly served similar positions at a private Catholic high school in Virginia as well as the Team Takeover AAU program, a traditional grassroots powerhouse based out of the fertile Washington DC-area recruiting grounds. The hire was questionable on several fronts, and it brought into clearer focus Villanova’s pursuit of Josh Hart, a member of Team Takeover and a prime target on the prospect market who currently holds offers from Memphis, Cincinnati, Arizona, Rutgers and the Wildcats, among others. Yet it wasn’t Martin’s ties to AAU basketball – and his potential role as a recruiting pipeline for Villanova – that cast legitimate doubts over his hiring. It was his resumé, which according to the school’s website said Martin “played collegiate basketball at UW-Green Bay for coach Dick Bennett from 1991-1995.” ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil unearthed the specifics of Martin’s factual inaccuracies shortly after the Wildcats released word of their newest employee. UWGB has no recollection of him playing there, nor is there any record of Martin on year-by-year statistics or available media guides from the 1990-91 through 1994-95 seasons, Martin’s indicated time frame of participation. His LinkedIn profile claims bachelor degrees from both UWGB and Viterbo University, an NAIA school in Wisconsin. But according to the Viterbo website, Martin played four seasons there rather than at UWGB. Villanova confirmed the inaccuracies over the weekend, and on Saturday announced Martin’s resignation.
In today’s social media-crazed world, where any conceivable tidbit of important information is available at the push of a button, lying about your playing history while landing a job as an assistant at a power conference program is simply astonishing. Gone are the days when factual documentation was accepted with little in the way of thorough web-based analysis or speedy, credible cross-checking services. At first glance, Martin’s error doesn’t seem all that egregious. He never played at Wisconsin-Green Bay – as both his high school and Villanova biographical profile suggests – but rather at a different small-sized Wisconsin school. The two schools fall under different sublets of athletic classification (NCAA Division I and NAIA, respectively), which, by all accounts, is no minor error. Yet Martin’s playing past probably holds little, if any bearing on his ability to coach at one of the nation’s top-tier Division I programs some 20 years later. Don’t get me wrong, defrauding the hiring process, particularly at a time when it’s practically impossible to get away with such bait-and-switch maneuvering, is asinine. And Martin’s forced resignation was indeed the best and only way to handle the situation.
But what’s interesting about this fiasco is not so much the way Martin tried to game the hiring process, but that Jay Wright – who for 11 years has lorded over a consistently successful Big East contender on the Main Line – appears to have endorsed the hiring of a man who lacks the requisite background credentials to assume such an important position. It’s not hard to figure out why Wright wanted Martin under contract. To compete in the Big East, you need players, and good ones; Martin, per his connections with Team Takeover, provided a direct source to some of the nation’s best high school talent. As deals go, this one made decent sense — Wright was getting an inside man to steer top prospects his way. Martin could have worked the sidelines on a much, much grander stage than his former coaching days, invested little time in scouting or strategic planning, all the while enjoying the myriad other perks afforded to a high-major assistant. For landing a few choice recruits each year, that’s an awfully desirable return package. Wright, in the above linked report, addressed Martin’s dismissal:
I have always known Doug to be a good person and coach. He has taken responsibility for his mistake and will move on successfully. We all wish Doug well.
Fair enough. It’s premature to assume Wright hired Martin solely for the recruiting benefits and not something else, though the circumstances – Martin’s fraudulent resume, his ties to Team Takeover, his lack of experience coaching at the collegiate level – suggest that is the case. Wright would hardly be alone in offering employment to AAU-affiliated coaches. Last June Ben Howland hired Korey McCray, a high-ranking coach and administrative leader within the Atlanta Celtics AAU program. Jordan Adams and Tony Parker, two prized prospects in UCLA’s elite 2012 class, played with the Atlanta Celtics. Coincidence? Martin presumably could have operated in much the same way under Wright, as an assistant/recruiting specialist. For me, the one major takeaway here is that Villanova, with Wright’s consent, attempted to hire a man whose putative value stems not from what he contributes as a basketball coach but who he knows on the recruiting trail — the fact that his resumé was fraudulent was merely window dressing that brought the situation to everyone’s attention.