That’s Debatable: Considering NCAA Consistency

Posted by rtmsf on January 14th, 2011

That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude.  Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people.  We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season.  We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at

This Week’s Topic: The NCAA has taken a lot of flak in the last week for its seeming inconsistency in recent rulings involving Cam Newton, the Ohio State football players and Enes Kanter, among others.  Give us your ideas on how the NCAA should handle an increasingly complex environment involving the eligibility issues of its student-athletes.  Can it be consistent?

Andrew Murawa, RTC contributor

If the NCAA can at least be consistent in attempting to look out for the best interests of student-athletes, while maintaining as near a level playing field as possible for all schools to compete upon, that should be enough. In the Kanter case, it seemed to me that Kanter didn’t do anything inherently “wrong.” He accepted money from a Turkish professional team above and beyond expenses for housing, education and the like, but Kanter never showed any real interest in becoming a professional. If he had wanted to be a professional, he could have been pulling a salary overseas for years now, but he made the commitment to come to the United States and try to compete at the college level. If the NCAA was going to rule with the best interests of the student-athlete in mind, Kanter would have been eligible at some point, after an appropriate penalty and his repayment of whatever additional funds he received. The NCAA is never going to be able to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution to these types of amateurism cases, and comparing the circumstances and motives behind each individual case will never be exact, but if they can consistently rule in a manner protective of its student-athletes – while still protecting the goal of amateurism – they’ll at least be serving their mission.

Tom Wolfmeyer, RTC contributor

Transparency, transparency, transparency.  The NCAA’s biggest problem in my eyes is that nobody seems to be able to predict how rules will be interpreted or penalties handed out in a given case.  And then when the organization is questioned, they have trouble articulating the nuance and distinguishing between decisions.  The only way to combat this is with complete transparency in how their enforcement system works and the decision-making matrix that the NCAA uses to establish guidelines for punishment.  If Cam Newton’s situation is indeed different than Enes Kanter’s, and his is different than Derrick Rose’s, et al., then the NCAA needs to inform us as to the specific criteria used to make decisions and then follow those same guidelines in future, similar cases.  The way it stands now is entirely too ambiguous, which ultimately creates an appearance of the NCAA enforcement folks playing favorites and impropriety.  And isn’t that the exact thing that the NCAA purports to be working for — a level playing field with a fair and just system?

Brian Otskey, RTC contributor

I think it’s impossible for the NCAA to be consistent when it comes to every student-athlete. I know Cam Newton was basically shopped around but I don’t follow college football and don’t know anything beyond that so it’s not my place to comment on that or the Ohio State football controversy. What I do know is that Enes Kanter is a professional athlete. He played for a professional team and received $33,000 above his necessary expenses, according to the university and the NCAA. The outrage from Dick Vitale and others that the NCAA declared him ineligible to get back at John Calipari is ludicrous. Kanter would be ineligible no matter what team he played for and teams knew he was a risk while recruiting him. I can’t blame Kentucky for taking a risk with a potentially great reward but let’s stop with the conspiracy theories about this. When it comes to Josh Selby, that money wasn’t even 15% of what Kanter was paid, though it does seem strange that he’s allowed to pay it back and play while Kanter cannot. The bottom line is that it’s impossible to create one rigid standard for everyone. Each situation should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

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That’s Debatable: Santa’s Wish List

Posted by rtmsf on December 24th, 2010

That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude.  Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people.  We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season.  We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at

This Week’s Topic: Santa is stopping by your house this week, and he’s bringing you one thing that you really want this college basketball season and he’ll take one thing away when he leaves.  What are those two things?

Ned Reddick, RTC contributor

My wishes for Christmas are pretty simple. I would ask Santa to bring Kyrie Irving back. No matter what you think of Duke it would be difficult to find a part of his game that a basketball fan would not enjoy. He’s fundamentally sound, athletic, and he plays hard. Although his absence makes the season more interesting in the sense that it makes the championship picture less defined, with Irving suiting up for the Blue Devils they would be the heavy favorites to win the title. With him on the sidelines in street clothes they are just one of about four or five teams that have a legitimate shot at the title. As for taking something away I would ask Santa to make players stop putting themselves in bad situations. I know they are just college students who as a group tend to do dumb stuff, but I wish they could stop taking things that the NCAA deems as impermissible benefits (like clothing or money) or just breaking the law (like a DUI or stealing other people’s stuff). It’s unfortunate that they are willing to risk a potentially lucrative career for a short-term pleasure so I hope Santa can take that away.

Brian Otskey, RTC contributor

This is a bit out of left field, plus it will never happen, but I’d want to see live video of the debate inside the committee room in the days leading up to and on Selection Sunday. I think it would be fascinating to see what they focus on rather than what we fans and the media lurch onto as the most important criteria. I’m glad the NCAA allows the media to participate in a mock bracket for a few days because it’s fun to read about the process and how they went about it, but nothing compares to seeing the real thing. Also, last year’s bracket was riddled with procedural errors and I’d be interested to see if they really focus on that or not. As for what I’d get rid of, that’s easy. All the agents, handlers, AAU coaches, etc. that make up the nasty part of recruiting. Seriously, why does a high school kid have to have his “people” decide where to go or what to do? What person that age has to have an entourage? It is terrific that the NCAA appears to be cracking down but they have a long, long way to go.

Andrew Murawa, RTC contributor

Well, I asked Santa to bring me the title of the commissioner of all sports, but he just mumbled something under his breath. “But Santa, all I want to do is ban the use of domed stadiums in sports that are meant to be played outside,” I said, but he saw right through that, knowing that a college football playoff would be coming along right after that. And you know Santa, he’s a big fan of those bowl games. Anyway, after some haggling, Santa has promised me a couple of four-day national holiday weekends in March. He’s got an in with the holiday creation board for some reason – I’m guessing blackmail, but you never can tell with Mr. Claus. He’s a mysterious one. And, just as a personal favor to me (we go back quite a ways), when he leaves on Christmas morning, he’s taking away four NCAA Tournament at-large bids, although I suspect he’s just going to dump them somewhere near the site of the Great Alaska Shootout on his way back home.

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Morning Five: 10.29.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 29th, 2010

  1. What’s the adage?  Don’t tweet and rebound, or something to that effect?  Kentucky forward Josh Harrellson learned the hard way yesterday after head coach John Calipari shut down his Twitter page after he ripped the coach for not receiving a compliment in the postgame press conference after a 26-rebound effort.  Color us unimpressed, but neither DeMarcus Cousins nor Enes Kanter were on the floor for the Blue or White team in the UK scrimmage, so we’re not sure that Harrellson should be reserving hotels for NBA Draft night in NYC just yet.  After putting the nix on Harrellson’s micro-blogging, Calipari himself tweeted that his player has not “dealt w/ how to handle success” and he will not be on Twitter until he is “responsible enough to handle success & failure.”  Great stuff out of Lexington.
  2. Good news for Iowa, as it was learned yesterday that star player Matt Gatens will only be out three weeks after surgery to repair a tendon in his left hand.  There was concern that he could miss a significantly greater amount of time, but this will put the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer back in action at the Paradise Jam during the weekend before Thanksgiving.  They’ll need him, too, as the field is comprised of Xavier, Alabama and Seton Hall.  New coach Fran McCaffery has enough problems facing him this season without injuries being another one.
  3. The AP Top 25 came out on Thursday and there were no surprises there either.  Mike DeCourcy has as good an analysis as we could have put together, so here it is
  4. Binghamton’s Kevin Broadus finally got his long-awaited settlement from the university as a result of being let-go without actually being let-go.  Oh, how we wish we too had a government job.  At any rate, Broadus will be paid $1.2M to walk away and never sue the university over his treatment, which included recruiting questionable characters and getting called on it.  Yeah.
  5. Rather than eliminating the whole shebang, the NCAA has decided that it will instead spend a year evaluating the summer recruiting environment before making a decision on what to do about it.  A number of concerns were raised over the issue, so the NCAA once again made a reasoned and logical decision to give it more time and consideration.  We’re starting to get a little frightened by the NCAA’s use of logic and reason in recent years here.
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Morning Five: 08.13.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 13th, 2010

  1. Minnesota received good news yesterday when much-maligned forward Trevor Mbakwe finally reached a conclusion in his assault case that will allow him to suit up for the Gophers after over a year in limbo.  He will enter a pre-trial intervention program that will wipe the slate clean so long as he performs 100 hours of community service and pays a $100 fine.  With several solid contributors returning to Minny along with the addition of Mbakwe, Tubby Smith’s team suddenly looks a little better than they did a few days ago in the stacked Big Ten.
  2. Florida, Mississippi State, Dayton, Illinois and Penn State.  What do theses five schools have in common?  Andy Glockner believes that each is ready to make a substantial leap in their luck next season.  He’s not being facetious either.  In using the Pomeroy definition of “luck,” a calculation that measures whether a team is playing above or below its statistical expectations, he finds that the above five teams should show a bump this season if for no other reason than they were fairly unlucky last year.
  3. Mike DeCourcy gives us his five prospects coming out of the July recruiting period who most helped themselves.  Two New Englanders, Maurice Harkless and Naadir Tharpe, were among his list.
  4. An NCAA proposal would require incoming NCAA freshmen to essentially prove their academic worthiness through summer school prior to their first season if their academic credentials were found lacking.  Upperclassmen would also have their academic records reviewed at the end of each school year and determine whether summer classes were needed; if they were, coaches could use part of the players’ summer terms for strength/conditioning and some skill development.  How long until every coach figures out that all of his players (including the 3.0 students) miraculously require the additional summer classwork?
  5. ESPN analyst and former Duke superstar Jay (don’t call me Jason) Williams recently showed that he still has some game, especially the kind suited for summertime street ball.  He played so well at  Dyckman in NYC recently that he earned a new nickname: the Bourne Supremacy.  We’re very anxious to see what the other ESPN analysts and commentators will do with that next season.
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That’s Debatable: Revisiting the Butler-Xavier Fiasco

Posted by rtmsf on December 23rd, 2009

Each week RTC will posit a That’s Debatable question or topic that is relevant to the world of college basketball.  Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, we’ll post the thoughts from our core editing crew (in 200 words or less), but we’ll also be expanding to include our contributors and correspondents as appropriate throughout the season.  We also invite you, the readers, to join us as we mull over some of the questions facing the game today.  Feel free to send us your takes and/or leave them in the comments below.

This Week’s Topic: What do you think about the whole Butler vs. Xavier fiasco at the end of their game over the weekend?

Crawford Wasn't Happy About the Decision to End the Game

Crawford Wasn't Happy About the Decision to End the Game

zach hayes – editor/contributor, RTC

When the crazy ending occurred and throughout the interminable review by the officials, I was convinced there was no way the officials could end the game without giving Xavier at least a chance for a miracle shot. For the officials to determine that a certain amount of time came off the clock with a stopwatch and end the game based on that ruling seems like a total reach. But taking a step back and reviewing the rule and the play, the officials did properly end the game. It was simply bad luck on Xavier’s part because if Hayward had released the ball just a split second longer, the Musketeers would have benefited from the rule and a riot may have ensued at Hinkle. It’s unfortunate to end such a dramatic and important game on a controversial ending directly involving the officials, but given the wild circumstances, the referees handled it properly.

john stevens – editor/contributor, RTC

The way I see it, the referees did what they could in that last bit where they got out the stopwatch and tried to figure out how much, if any, time should be remaining.  If the rule book allows them to do that, I realize it’s not a perfect solution but it’s the best way to correct that kind of error.  If they figure that there would have been a negative time balance left had there been “proper” timekeeping, then that’s just how it is.  I wonder, though, how much time is lost in the use of a stopwatch?  An official would have to have perfect reflexes to use a stopwatch and accurately determine how long such a stoppage lasted.  Even if there’s just .01-.02 seconds lost, any team would want any fraction of a second they could get.  Even if Xavier had been awarded the entire final 1.2 seconds to get off a shot, we’re talking about a last-second heave.  But they deserve the chance.  There are ways to prevent this problem in the future, but in this case I think the zebras got it…well, as right as they could get it.

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Morning Five: 11.11.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2009


  1. Wednesday is the start of the week-long Early National Signing Period for the Class of 2010.  UCLA just got a commitment yesterday from five-star 6’9 F/C Josh Smith from Covington, Washington, and the best big man in Westwood since Kevin Love was throwing in 94-footers at the Final Four.  Six of the top ten are already committed, but two of the jewels — Harrison Barnes and Brandon Knight — are still on the board. scout 2010 top 10
  2. Villanova freshman center Mouphtaou Yarou was declared eligible by head coach Jay Wright yesterday after information from an international basketball site came to light purporting that he may have been much older (25) than his reported 19 years of age.   Jeff Goodman reported later yesterday that the NCAA had previously cleared him and that the school has his immigration papers and passport showing that he is indeed still a teenager.  Maybe Villanova compliance should enlist the assistance of Orly Taitz to track down Yarou’s birth certificate?
  3. Let’s call this officiating rule of emphasis by its real name, shall we?  The Shane Battier Rule.
  4. Illinois guard Jeff Jordan will miss the Illini’s first two games for playing in an unsanctioned 3-on-3 event over the summer (while he was off the team).
  5. Revisiting Jim Boeheim’s 800th victory with some of his former players (a Matt Roe sighting!).  Also, a funny anecdote from Albany head coach Will Brown talking to his point guard during the game with SU:  “I said to Mike Black, `Mike, you’ve got to get the ball to the high post,’ ” Brown recalled. “He said, ‘Coach, I can’t see the high post.’ ”  Yes, that Syracuse zone is long this year.
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Buzz: Hold Those Betting Sheets, Delaware…

Posted by rtmsf on August 24th, 2009

A three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia today heard two hours of oral arguments on the legality of Delaware’s proposed plan to institute sports gambling in time for the opening of football season in two weeks.  Their decision to overturn the lower court’s holding allowing such wagering in Delaware sent ripples through the Northeastern corridor, as gambling savants from Connecticut to Virginia will have to cancel their planned fall weekend trips to Dover.  At issue was the expansion of wagering options that Delaware has proposed, including single-game bets using point spreads in multiple sports.  Under previous interpretation of law, the state is only allowed to offer parlay-style gambling on professional football games – any expansion beyond that is illegal.  Today’s ruling leaves little wiggle room for the state, as an appeal is unlikely to be considered by the Supreme Court.  So… does this mean a Final Four in Wilmington is back on?

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The NCAA Strikes Back at Delaware…

Posted by rtmsf on August 6th, 2009

Last week we reported that the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA teamed up to file a civil suit against the state of Delaware to block its plan to introduce single-game wagering on pro and collegiate sports beginning this fall – on September 1, in fact, just in time for the first college football weekend and the NFL kickoff ten days later.  (Let’s pause briefly to listen to the delirium from every ex-fratboy from North Jersey to DC for dramatic effect.)   Yesterday a US District Court judge in Delaware (who presumably likes the Eagles -6) rejected the cabal’s request for an injunction, effectively giving the First State the freedom to move forward with its plan throughout football season.  Trial, if it ever comes to pass, is scheduled to begin in early December.  Sounds perfect, right?

sports betting 2

Not so fast.  Sensing that the Good Ship Moral Police was taking on too much water, the NCAA today announced that it will no longer allow its championships to be held in states that permit single-game wagering.  What an amazing coincidence!  While this new NCAA policy may hold significant sway in large, multi-faceted states such as California or Florida, Delaware is unlikely to see much of an impact.  According to the AP report on the matter, the state expects to take in approximately $53M in its first year of gaming; how much money could Delaware stand to lose from this policy?  To our knowledge, there’s never been a bowl game or an NCAA Tournament game in Dover, and there are no other cities of the size where the NCAA would host a major event.  The 1-AA playoffs involving University of Delaware?  Sure, but we’re only talking about a couple of games every few years there.  What else – non-revenue sports?  Yeah, keep trying. 

The fact of the matter is that this is a power play by the NCAA to create a precedent should any of its other states (e.g., ones that actually carry and profit from NCAA events) get the notion that they too should look into this sports gambling business.  Frankly, we don’t see how revenue lost could ever match what would pour into a state’s coffers, but that’s another argument for another time.  The important thing here is that the NCAA is not going to win this battle, and the East Coast will actually now have a reason to visit Delaware for more than the 30 minutes it takes to pass through it. 

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06.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 28th, 2009

Let’s get caught up after a glorious weekend…

  • Elliot Williams to Memphis.  Nothing surprising here, as we reported last week that Elliot Williams was leaving Duke to move closer to home to attend to his mother’s illness.  The only school that made reasonable sense was his hometown University of Memphis, and Gary Parrish reported yesterday that Williams will indeed become a Tiger.  If Williams can get the NCAA to approve his hardship waiver so that he can play next season, he should walk right into a starting position at the PG spot for Josh Pastner’s squad.  While we’re on the subject of Memphis getting new players, former Kentucky player (well, he never actually played) Matt Pilgrim is probably transferring to Memphis with the assistance of new UK coach John Calipari.  Pilgrim, a transfer from Hampton who sat out last season at UK, wasn’t part of the new regime’s plans.  Since he didn’t want to leave Lexington but was no longer welcome, Coach Cal is trying to facilitate a seamless transfer for him.
  • The NCAA Shell Game. Seth Davis wrote an article last week that illustrates just how one-sided the NCAA scholarship system can be.  When new coaches (e.g.,Isiah Thomas and John Calipari) get to their new schools, they often feel the need to run off players (such as Pilgrim, mentioned above) who don’t fit in their lofty plans for the program.  That’s all fine and well for replacing lesser players, but the whole house of cards gets exposed when a coach wants to keep a player who otherwise would like to transfer.  Meet Freddy Asprilla, a 6’10 Colombian center at FIU who had a great freshman year and wants to transfer to a major conference school, but whom isn’t being released by FIU simply because, well, they don’t have to.  There’s an adage about the deck getting stacked somewhere in here.
  • FIU Cheerleading.  We know it’s purely coincidental that FIU is enabling cost-cutting measures by cutting its cheerleaders during the same year that they hired Isiah Thomas to coach their men’s basketball team (Thomas isn’t taking a base salary this year).  Still, the rich irony of FIU wholly dismantling the cheerleading team within months of Thomas’ arrival on campus isn’t lost on anyone.  Sometimes the unintended consequences are more compelling than the intended ones.
  • NBA Draft DetritusGary Parrish: the NBA will find you wherever you play.  Luke Winn: behind the scenes at MSG, and raising legitimate questions as to Ty Lawson and DeJuan Blair’s draft positions.  Jeff Goodman: Brandon Jennings made the right choice to go to Europe.  More Parrish: like RTC, he also thinks Demar DeRozan is going to be a stud.
  • More Quick Hits.  Marquette’s Maurice Acker: done with basketballRenardo Sidney: stop delaying, NCAAJeremy Tyler: headed to Israel Brian Ellerbe: new assistant at GW.  BYU’s Dave Rose: now cancer-free and returning to coach this fall.   William & Mary: considering an asparagus mascotRoy Williams: Aw Shucks… the RW Story, on sale in November.  Antonio Anderson: those Ws are ours!
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What’s Good for the Game isn’t Good for the Gander

Posted by nvr1983 on April 22nd, 2009

Andy Katz wrote in his blog today that the NCAA Legislative Committee voted on Monday to make a rule change effective in 2010 that would shorten the amount of time that an early entry would have to ‘test the waters’ with NBA teams before making a final decision to enter the draft.

If the NCAA board of directors endorses the legislative panel’s decision to reduce the early entry decision window from six weeks to approximately one week, there won’t be any reasonable way for underclassmen to test the draft process. USA Today first reported the panel’s decision, which would make underclassmen decide by May 8 whether they were staying in the draft. The current deadline is 10 days before the draft in mid-June. (The rule would go into effect for next year’s draft class.)

This legislation was the compromise position after the ACC came to the table asking for a ten-day window following the conclusion of the national championship game.  We’ve written about this before, but let us reiterate for those of you who missed our first tirade: this is a TERRIBLE decision.


As Katz points out very clearly in his post, the withdrawal deadline would then become somewhere around the end of the first week of May each year, which would allow players a window of a mere 7-10 days in which to make themselves available for private workouts with NBA teams.  And if you’re like us and your collegiate days are well into the rear-view mirror, you may have forgotten that the end of April/beginning of May also usually coincides with exams for most college students around the country, even those who play basketball on the side.  In other words, the NCAA is making it that much harder for a prospective early entry to get good feedback on his status.

Let’s take a quick look at a system that generally works – the current one.  Last year, there were 69 American players who originally decided to test the waters.  Thirty-five of those players felt confident enough in their standing to stay in the draft, and 28 of those (80%) were actually selected on draft night in MSG (21 with guaranteed money in the first round).   Now we aren’t going to say what was going through the heads of every one of those 34 players who returned to school (guys like Josh Akognon, Chase Budinger, Jerel McNeal and of course the Carolina trio), but we’d absolutely wager that many of them iniitally thought they were ready for the NBA.  It was only after they were able to get objective feedback from NBA scouts and teams as to their projected draft status that they were able to make an informed decision to not cede their remaining eligibility on a gut feeling.

How quick we are to forget our history.  The reason the early entry withdrawal  rule was initially instituted was to allow players like Scotty Thurman and Thomas Hamilton to get good, objective feedback on their draft status prior to making a final decision.  It’s very easy to think you’re a lottery pick when you’re the best player on a successful college team and everyone around you is telling you that you’re a superstar.  It’s less easy to think that when scouts tell you that you’re undersized, need to work on your shooting or you’re slow for your position at the next level (i.e., the truth).   What the NCAA is endorsing here is the opportunity for more of the former and less of the latter, which will ultimately mean that more players are going to make an ill-informed gut-based decision to stay in the draft, only to be surprised when they’re not chosen six weeks later.  It’s bad for the players’ futures, who throw away an opportunity at a degree and further training in basketball; it’s bad for the schools who could benefit in many ways by getting key non-NBA-ready players to return (cough, cough, UNC), and it’s bad for the game itself, which is always enriched when the players who should still be playing at that level are actually doing so.


Now, we know who is driving this – the coaches (how dare some of these guys complain!).  Despite all the hollow and vacuous lip service they give to being there for their kids and wanting only what’s best for their players, what they’re really doing is making life easier on themselves.  By shaving five weeks from the early entry withdrawal deadline, it will now give Coach Blowhard another month to finish recruiting, shore up his roster and adequately plan for the next season.  There is some merit to this position – some – but by making it eminently more difficult for his players to learn their individual strengths and weaknesses from an objective source prior to the withdrawal deadline (e.g., the NBA Combine, scheduled to start in late May of this year),  they’re much more likely to fall back on gut instincts which will almost always favor the dream of the NBA over taking more exams.  Any benefit to the coach and program by this initiative is more than lost by enabling poor decisionmaking from the players.

From our stance, this is an unconscionable position for the coaches to take, especially given how much they talk about helping their players get to the next level, and we’re extremely disappointed in this decision.  Let’s hope the NCAA Board of Directors shoots it down next week.

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