Besides UConn, Which Teams Were Most Significantly Hurt By APR Ban?

Posted by EJacoby on June 22nd, 2012

When news broke this week that 10 teams would receive postseason bans due to insufficient Academic Progress Reports, immediate reactions all centered around the one big name team on the list – Connecticut. Sadly, the National Champions of just two seasons ago won’t even have a chance to participate in March Madness next season. But there are nine other schools that also flunked the APR test and are therefore disallowed from the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Did any of these other teams have shots at the Big Dance next year? The answer: Three teams in particular lost out big time from the punishment, while the five others will find rebuilding that much more difficult.

Rian Pearson is a great player for Toledo, but he won’t get a chance at the Big Dance next season (The Blade/J. Wadsworth)

  • Toledo The Rockets were just average in the MAC last season (7-9), but Toledo didn’t lose a single player to graduation. Rian Pearson, who averaged 16.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in his first year on campus last season, is a really good player who loses out on a shot at the Big Dance next year. The Rockets are not happy about the postseason ban, but it’s only a result of their own players’ inability to graduate or stay academically eligible at a strong enough rate over the past four years. Read the rest of this entry »
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Will Coaches Abuse New “Unlimited Recruiting Calls” Rule?

Posted by EJacoby on June 11th, 2012

Starting at the end of this week, men’s basketball will become the guinea pig of a new NCAA rule that allows college coaches unlimited contact via phone calls and text messages to recruits who have finished their sophomore year of high school. While this may not seem like huge news, the altered rule actually represents a massive change from current NCAA guidelines that prohibit coaches from texting players and allow just one call per month to a recruit. Instead of one monthly nerve-racking phone conversation, high school kids can now get more comfortable with coaching staffs through open dialogue, and that’s a good thing. But by the same token, coaches are now given free rein to unleash their manipulative recruiting pitches without restriction, a privilege that some might feel compelled to abuse. There is a thin line between showing persistence and being a nuisance so coaches must show caution with how they adapt to the new freedoms.

Top prospects can expect to hear from Coach Cal a lot more often now (

The new rule change offers yet another way for coaching staffs to try to get a leg up on their competition. Rutgers head coach Mike Rice said that “kids are going to get sick of the recruiting process quicker now, to be honest with you,” offering the idea that overwhelming kids with texts and calls is sometimes to a recruiter’s detriment. Recruiting has always been an area where some coaches excel over others, but now their communication skills will be put to the test on an everyday basis. There is no doubt that school administrators will check in often with their hired guns and push them to have constant contact with top recruits to gauge their level of interest.

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Baylor’s Recruiting Strategy: Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Posted by rtmsf on April 9th, 2012

It’s no secret among college basketball observers that the recruiting prowess of Baylor’s Scott Drew has been largely looked upon with a skeptical eye. In just the past three recruiting cycles, Drew has signed top 10 prospects Perry Jones, III, (2010), Quincy Miller (2011), and Isaiah Austin (2012), making the Christian school in Waco, Texas, one of the premier destinations for elite high school basketball recruits in the country. To those skeptics, Baylor’s quick ascendance from Big 12 doormat to national relevance perhaps signaled that Drew’s recruiting bounty may have been achieved through extraordinary measures — some of which may have been counter to the rules and regulations of the NCAA.

Baylor's Drew Is Feeling Some NCAA Heat, But Does He Care?

The critics appear to have some basis. According to a report released today by’s Jason King, both Drew and Baylor women’s basketball coach, Kim Mulkey, presided over staffs who rampantly and repeatedly violated NCAA rules via text and phone communication with prospects during impermissible periods. Most of these contacts were alleged to have occurred during a 29-month span from 2007-10, but the total number of violations are staggering — 738 impermissible text messages and 528 impermissible phone calls between the two programs.

In a bit of an ironic twist, it was Baylor women’s star Brittney Griner — the Anthony Davis of the women’s game — who in 2008 as a high school star originally notified the NCAA about Baylor’s impermissible contacts. She eventually signed and matriculated at the school anyway, leading the Bears to a flawless 40-0 title season in 2011-12. Since the majority of these contact violations occurred from 2-5 years ago, and the men’s program has since reached two Elite Eights and the women’s program has made an Elite Eight, a Final Four, and won a National Championship, is it wrong to suggest that the illicit contacts performed by Baylor staff to entice elite recruits such as Jones, Griner, Miller, et al, was well worth the risk?

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NCAA Sticks to Its Guns: UConn Appeal Denied

Posted by rtmsf on April 5th, 2012

In news today that was only surprising to those who believe the NCAA has no spine, the organization denied Connecticut‘s final appeal over its eligibility for the 2013 NCAA Tournament based on its Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores. NCAA legislation enacted last October requires a four-year average APR of 900 or a two-year average of 930 in order to become eligible for next year’s Tournament — UConn’s APRs of 826 in 2009-10 and 978 in 2010-11 average out to a two-year score of 902 (well below the 930 cutoff), and its four-year average of 893 also comes up shy of the eligibility threshold (900). The Husky program argued that its proposed remedial measures, which included the possible forfeiture of NCAA Tournament revenue, greater academic support mechanisms and the existing loss of two scholarships, should be sufficient punishment for the school’s past academic failings. But that appeal was rejected, presumably on the grounds that the NCAA cannot afford to lose further credibility by backtracking on this mandate.

How Will the NCAA's Decision Impact Calhoun?

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy got involved on Thursday, telling the Hartford Courant:

It’s almost as if they’ve decided to get UConn one way or the other. [The NCAA] can’t get out of their own way. I think I have the same reaction a lot of people have when they understand what’s going on. For the first time in its history, the NCAA is making a retroactive application of a new rule. They modified a rule without modifying the time in which he comes into effect. … They changed the rule and didn’t give people time to adjust to it. … They are breaking their own precedents to bring this about. UConn has cleaned up its act, and now the NCAA is punishing a bunch of kids who have absolutely nothing or very little … to do with the failures of the past.

NCAA spokesperson Eric Christiansen responded to this criticism by saying that “schools have known since 2006 that APRs below 900 could result in serious penalties including postseason restrictions.” Of course, he’s right. UConn and other schools have known about the 900 threshold for a long time — they only started to take it seriously, though, when the NCAA gave it the necessary teeth to impact postseason eligibility through last year’s added legislation. And about the argument that the players from the 2009-10 team that caused so much of the APR problem are no longer around? No disrespect intended toward those former or current Huskies, but how is this different from other rules violations where a school is placed on probation for the actions of a former coach and/or players? The list is long of such situations on the other side of the rule-breaking fence — why should academic issues be treated any differently?

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Will Bob Knight Be Caught Committing an NCAA Violation Now?

Posted by nvr1983 on October 19th, 2011

Indiana‘s legendary coach Bob Knight has been a controversial figure for nearly four decades. Media, fans, coaches, opposing players, and even some of his own players have said just about everything you can say about him. One thing that he has never been called before is a cheater. That is until this past Friday.

Bob Knight Probably Doesn't Find The Current Situation That Funny

In a story that was posted on Friday, The Indianapolis Star reported that Bob Knight spoke with two Indiana-based recruits (Jason Smith and Donnell Minton) about how they would fit in well playing for his son Pat Knight at Lamar, the school that they both eventually committed to earlier this month. On the surface, it appears to be an innocent enough interaction and surely would be viewed as a highlight for these two young players who grew up in a state where Bob Knight is college basketball. When you dig a little deeper though it turns out that Bob Knight may have committed a NCAA violation by calling the players, which the NCAA prohibits as NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson states, “telephone calls to prospects can only be made by coaching staff members or those listed in the exceptions” with the exceptions being the university president and academic advisors.  As the article notes, this rule was created to prevent celebrities or other well-known people affiliated with schools from directly contacting and attempting to influence recruits. In this case, Knight is the celebrity, which he most certainly is in the college basketball world, who appears to have used his reputation (knowingly or unknowingly) to direct a recruit (or two) to play for his son.

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Bruce Pearl’s Show Cause: Which Schools Might Take a Shot at Him?

Posted by rtmsf on August 24th, 2011

News leaked on Tuesday night that the NCAA will hit Bruce Pearl with a three-year “show cause” penalty for his role in facilitating and later lying about numerous violations while acting as the Tennessee head basketball coach from 2005-11.  We all remember the story of NCAA investigators presenting Pearl with a photograph of current Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft standing next to him at his own cookout, and his subsequent disavowal of knowledge of such a thing.  But his transgressions were considerably more than that incident alone — it was the systematic and rather clumsy attempts at a subsequent cover-up that ultimately doomed the jocular head coach to the harsh penalty he faces today.  Here’s the relevant statement from the NCAA’s 21-page Infractions Report:

A Scene at Pearl's Home, Apparently (credit: KSR)

From the 2008-09 academic year through June 14, 2010, the former head men’s basketball coach acted contrary to the principle of ethical conduct when he knowingly engaged in violations of NCAA recruiting legislation and failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by providing false and misleading information to the institution and the enforcement staff and by attempting to influence others to furnish the institution and enforcement staff false and misleading information concerning their involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a violation of an NCAA regulation.

Ouch.  Once again, the lesson learned from an organization in an authoritative position is that the cover-up carries more weight than the actual crime.

What does this really mean, though?  It seems as if most commentators are interpreting this as an effective banishment of Pearl from the NCAA for the next several years as a direct result of carrying a cheetos-colored letter on his chest, but a reading of the fine print of the NCAA’s report shows that this isn’t true.  Mike DeCourcy points out in an article today that the “show cause” is one of the most misunderstood penalties that the NCAA has at its disposal.  Even a spectacularly reliable source such as Wikipedia states in its first sentence about such a penalty that “a coach involved in major rules violations at a university’s athletic program may not be hired by any other NCAA member institutions without permission from the Infractions Committee for a set period of time.”

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Memphis’ Near-Miss Highlights The Absurdity Of The NCAA Rulebook

Posted 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.”

Pastner & His Staff Know the NCAA Rulebook Better Than the NCAA

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.

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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.

Chillious Didn't Intend Any Wrongdoing, But Still Took the Ding (image: UW)

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.

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Share this story Alleges Impermissible Calls From Former Calipari Aide

Posted by jstevrtc on April 2nd, 2011

On Friday evening, writers Jeff Goodman and Thayer Evans released a story alleging that Bilal Batley, a former staff member at both Memphis and Kentucky, made what the NCAA would consider impermissible contact in the form of cell phone calls to recruits while employed by John Calipari at both programs. The FOX story specifically names former Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins and class of 2012 recruit L. J. Rose, as well as numerous current and former  players who ended up attending various schools, as  having been contacted by Batley, going back as far as Batley’s time as a graduate manager under Kelvin Sampson at Indiana. As the story explains, only a program’s head coach or three “countable” coaches are allowed to make phone calls to recruits. Batley was not so designated at Indiana, Memphis, or during his six months at Kentucky.

Batley Was Calipari's Director of Basketball Ops/Manager At Memphis and Kentucky

Before last season began, we posted a story about how Batley left his position of Director of Basketball Operations/Manager at Kentucky (the same position he held at Memphis) when it was revealed that he had been involved in a minor rules violation a few months into his job. Batley shagged some rebounds for a player during a brief stop in the practice gym, and his job description did not permit such an interaction. Kentucky self-reported the violation. Nothing came of it, and nothing should have. What we considered odd, though, was that Batley soon afterward announced he was leaving his job in Lexington. He cited an ill family member back in Houston as the reason for his departure, even though his post at Kentucky — a rather plum gig, to be sure — would have been protected by law in the event that it was a first-degree relative who was ill, meaning Batley could have come back to that job if he chose to do so after the family member’s illness had resolved. We assumed that Batley’s reasons were his own and that his hand was not forced, because no link was ever found between Batley’s leaving and the incredibly minor violation. Like the rest of the world, we let the matter rest, and simply hoped everything worked out for the best regarding the illness in Batley’s family.

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What Is The NCAA Telling Us With Curtis Kelly’s Suspension?

Posted by nvr1983 on December 29th, 2010

By now you have undoubtedly heard about the NCAA suspending Kansas State forward Curtis Kelly for six games for accepting excessive discounts while purchasing clothing. I was all set to go on a rant about it, but apparently Gary Parrish beat me to it with a brilliant column ripping the NCAA for its ridiculous recent decisions on punishing athletes for taking illegal benefits. While Parrish’s column is an amusing read about how the NCAA determines the severity of the infractions, it misses a larger point about how the NCAA goes after players harder than it does coaches or other administrators who run the business of college basketball at the university level.

It could be argued that athletes and coaches/administrators should be treated differently because the former are considered amateurs while the others are working what are, in a sense, traditional paying jobs, but using that alone should not clear the latter of the expectation of maintaining standards similar to what the NCAA expects of its athletes. We cannot even begin to fathom the perks that most big-name coaches get from local stores and restaurants that significantly exceed anything that either Kelly or Jacob Pullen received from Dillard’s. In these situations it isn’t an issue of amateur versus professional, which we already touched upon, but a question of using your position — either as a prominent athlete or coach/administrator — to get benefits that put them in a position that nobody else in the university system can obtain. Those benefits likely get repaid in a variety of ways, including through the giving of free merchandise, or, at the very least, giving them preferential treatment for highly sought-after tickets.

If Pearl was an athlete the NCAA would have already banned him

Still, the issue runs deeper than that and in no case made it more clear than that of Bruce Pearl, who has only received a partial suspension from the SEC (the NCAA still has not decided on what to do) and a fairly hefty fine for participating in illegal recruiting activities and lying to NCAA investigators about those illegal doings. Compare that with the situation of Dez Bryant, who last year lost his remaining eligibility for lying to NCAA investigators about his relationship with Deion Sanders even though the NCAA later found that Bryant had done nothing wrong other than lie to investigators about interacting with Sanders in what was a completely permissible way. Several pundits, most notably Jay Bilas and Len Elmore of ESPN, have called for the NCAA to ban Pearl, but the NCAA continues to drag its feet on the decision while it continues to dole out punishments against athletes. The way the system is set up it continues to punish young people between the ages of 18 and 22 who often come from underprivileged backgrounds without significant supervision and it continues to grant leniency on grown men who are making hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars, have college educations, years of real-world experience, and a significant support network behind them. If the NCAA continues its haphazard and uneven application of its bylaws to athletes and coaches, Congress might actually have something worth investigating.

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Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly Suspended

Posted by nvr1983 on December 21st, 2010

Kansas State announced earlier today that Jacob Pullen, its preseason All-American guard, and Curtis Kelly, its starting forward, would be suspended after being found to have received benefits (clothing) from a local department store. The suspensions were announced prior to the Wildcats’ game against UNLV tonight, leaving the team short-handed against the Rebels, although they are putting forth a strong effort, leading 40-34 early in the 2nd half at the time that this post was published. Pullen has been suspended for three games while the duration of Kelly’s suspension has not been determined yet. Through the first nine games of the season, Pullen is averaging 16.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 3.8 APG, and Kelly is averaging 10.3 PPG and 4.0 RPG.

Wildcat fans await the return of their two stars

The details of what they are reported to have received have not been released yet, but it sounds a lot like what happened with LeBron James in high school when he was suspended temporarily for receiving two throwback jerseys in return for posing for pictures to be displayed in a local clothing store. [UPDATE: According to Jeff Goodman it appears that they have gotten a very steep discount similar to what Peter Warrick and Laveranues Coles got at Dillard’s while at FSU.] While we await word from Kansas State on how long Kelly will be suspended, it is worth noting that after tonight’s game the Wildcats have an easy schedule with the two other games of Pullen’s suspension coming against UMKC and North Florida. We don’t expect Pullen to be out any longer than the stated three games, but the Wildcats could theoretically suspend Kelly (or Pullen) for four games and still have them both back in time for the start of Big 12 play when they play Oklahoma State on January 8th.

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Izzo Suspended For Prairie View Game By NCAA

Posted by jstevrtc on December 17th, 2010

Michigan State chief Tom Izzo has been put on ice for Saturday’s game against Prairie View A&M because he paid a guy $475 for some coaching help at a summer youth camp — that’s $475 over five days, mind you — and that person is listed as being associated with a possible recruit.

We Ask You -- We Know It's One Game, But Is This Justice?

So, let’s see: Tom Izzo gets busted for a game because he paid someone an honest wage to coach at a youth camp. Cam Newton’s father pimps his son out to at least one school, but Newton is still eligible to play an entire football season. Gotcha.

ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that this was actually finalized on Friday and Izzo got to select which game he sat out, but we still have a question: since the criterion for levying penalties is evidently What Did You Know — or, What Can We Prove You Knew — if Izzo didn’t know that the person he was paying was associated with a prospect, then why the suspension?


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