NCAA Legislation Proposing New Recruiting Freedoms Will Create More Inequality

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 28th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Every year the NCAA spends copious amounts of time monitoring secondary recruiting violations and doling out corresponding punishments to guilty programs. There are so many menial rule specifications within the organization’s 400-page rulebook and so many different ways to violate those specifications that recruiting has become a walking-on-eggshells process for most programs, with the fear of breaching protocol clouding every conversation, letter and official visit. This is a huge burden for coaches who, more than anything else, are just trying to run their teams in the most successful way possible without getting hung up in minor NCAA rule violations. When basic conversation between coach and prospect carries punitive repercussions, the formula needs wholesale upgrading. The angst and dismay over minor violations isn’t just a coach-player phenomenon. It affects the NCAA and the considerable investigatory work it must do to ensure its legislative scruples are enforced properly. There is a constant game played between coaches unwittingly violating protocol and the NCAA staff policing and dispensing punishment for those violations. Neither side is happy with their current state and yet the cumbersome violation-punishment cycle continues undeterred.

The proposed rule could radically alter the way major programs recruit players, particularly in football and men’s basketball (Photo credit: Darron Cummings/AP Photo).

The violations come in different forms, from impermissible contact with prospects to an overflow of text messages to providing bagels with cream cheese. Chief among NCAA recruiting no-no’s is the illegal use of program personnel outside of the designated coaching circle to contact prospective recruits. Only head coaches and assistant coaches can seek out, evaluate, and contact prospects. It’s a hard-line rule with severe implications: Very few members of each team’s staff are legally permitted to participate in the year-round recruiting process. As the distinction between coach and staff blurs with growing program personnel groups and the recruiting process demands a larger base of scouting resources, monitoring these sorts of violations has become an extremely frustrating process. The NCAA is downright exhausted, and it’s not hard to see why. A rule change is in the works to relieve the violation police work, according to Steve Yanda of the Washington Post, who on Saturday reported that the NCAA Rules Working Group has endorsed legislation that would eliminate the rule limiting recruiting matters to head and assistant coaches. The rule – which, if voted into approval, could go into effect as early as August 2013 – would allow “staff members now known as directors of operations or directors of player personnel to watch film of a prospect or to contact a prospect’s coach or guardian.” The man-to-man aspect of recruiting – official and unofficial campus visits, attending tournaments and events, and so on – would still be off-limits to anyone not considered by job title a head or assistant coach.

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08.20.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 20th, 2007

Some random morsels on Michael Vick Day in America:

  • And now on to the next great great political debate, Swift Boat style.  Did Obama play ball at Occidental or not?  There appears to be some dispute on this story, with a blogger at the Fanhouse refuting the original story we linked to from last week, while someone else dug up an old Washington Post quote from his coach talking about his game.  This is so much more interesting than whether W showed up for air guard duty!
  • Aggiesports.com reports with an in-depth article on Billy G‘s first 100 days in Lexington.
  • Quick, what Big East team has the most wins in the Big East Tournament during the 2000s?  If you said Pittsburgh (15 wins, largely due to five runner-up finishes) give yourself a Dave Gavitt doll.
  • Andy Katz exonerated Roy Williams from the accusation that he was still recruiting Wake Forest commit 6’11 PF Ty Walker after the death of Skip Prosser several weeks ago.  There was apparently some misunderstanding over a letter of condolences sent by Williams to Walker regarding the incident (from Katz’s blog – subscriber only).
  • A small newspaper article in Missouri confirms what we’ve always known as true about the upcoming college football season (which, admittedly, we enjoy very much despite its fundamental flaws):
    • But that’s what we’re asked to do year after year during college football season, as the “best regular season” leads way to the “worst postseason” of any sport. Sure, the bowl games are great for TV viewing on New Year’s Day, but most of them are meaningless and the game we’re supposed to care the most about happened during the second week of January last season.

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Does March Madness matter in May and June?

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2007

Mike Wilbon 

Wilbon, as usual, is up in arms. 

Today we wanted to take a moment to examine an idea put forth by the inimitable Mike Wilbon in Monday’s Washington Post.   Wilbon’s essential take (written after game 3 of the Detroit-Cleveland series) was that much of Lebron’s struggles in late-game situations of the NBA playoffs is directly attributable to his lack of “big game” experience, which his predecessors (Magic, MJ, Bird, etc.) honed and developed during the crucible of March Madness.  He wrote:

LeBron’s bigger problem is never having learned how to play these kinds of high-stakes games in college — and now having to learn against a recent champion. Most every iconic player in NBA history, particularly the triumvirate of Magic, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, learned to play big games during March Madness. For every Kobe (who had Shaquille O’Neal), there’s an Isiah Thomas or Dwyane Wade or Richard Hamilton, guys who learned how to deal with the enormous pressure of big games in college, then successfully transitioned into the NBA playoffs. It’s no coincidence that Tracy McGrady and Kevin Garnett, who also skipped college, struggle so mightily in the playoffs. Without Shaq, Bryant is 0 for 2 getting out of the first round of the playoffs.

Since the high school-to-NBA era began in 1995 with Kevin Garnett, there have been 28 first round picks used on US kids a month removed from their high school graduations.  It’s too early to say for many, but early returns suggest that only seven were definitely worth the pick – KG, Kobe, Jermaine O’Neal, T-Mac, Amare, Lebron & Dwight Howard.  Others such as Shaun Livingston, Al Jefferson, Andrew Bynum and the two Smiths – Josh and J.R. – may end up being stars in a few years, but for now it’s too early to tell.

Of that group of high school-to-NBA superstars, and with the very notable exception of Kobe as first lieutenant second banana to Shaq, how many of that group have led their teams to postseason NBA success?  The struggles of KG (2 playoff series wins in his 12-yr career) and T-Mac (0 series wins in 10 yrs) are well documented, although Jermaine O’Neal (3 series wins in 7 yrs as a starter in Indiana) may soon also warrant inclusion on that list.  Still, Amare (5 series wins in 5 seasons in the NBA - assist to Steve Nash) and Lebron’s (3 series wins in 4 seasons) rather quick starts confound Wilbon’s blanket theory a bit.  It’s too early to say with Dwight Howard.

For now, we think there is some validity to Wilbon’s theory, but it’s not as clear-cut as he suggests.  The NCAA Tournament’s knockout format eliminates pretenders from contenders very quickly, and the teams with gamebreaking talents who can keep their cool and make plays at the end of games are usually the ones last standing.   But where we feel Wilbon’s argument fails is that it’s very difficult to go deep in the NBA playoffs for just about anyone, whether a four-year college player or one who skipped it altogether.  During the era of which we’re speaking (96-07), only five franchises have won NBA titles (Chicago, San Antonio, LA Lakers, Detroit, Miami), and it appears that one of those same franchises will win again this season (SA or Detroit).  History tends to show that only age and collapse from within creates a vacuum by which a different NBA franchise can rise to the top of the heap.

Shaq Graduation Laettner at Duke

Shaq & Laettner have had different degrees of success in college and the NBA.   

With so few historical opportunities for superstars to elevate their teams to the highest level of the sport, we find it somewhat unfounded to correlate the amount of time spent playing in March Madness as an indicator of future NBA playoff success.  After all, didn’t Shaq (4 NBA titles and 123 playoff wins) flame out early every year at LSU, winning a grand total of two NCAA Tournament games in his three seasons in Baton Rouge?  Conversely, Christian Laettner won 21 NCAA Tournament  games at Duke, but his NBA teams only won 11 playoff games where he was a significant contributor (note: he also averaged 2.2 ppg in 11 more playoff wins with the Heat in 2005).  There are undoubtedly other examples that will support both viewpoints.  We tend to believe that the those who are destined to become superstars will ultimately use their talent and drive to work their way to that level, and whether those players learned how to do that in college or on the job in the L  doesn’t really matter.  Tonight Lebron will have his biggest opportunity yet to prove us right.      

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05.30.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 30th, 2007

A lot of piled-up news to get to today…

  • The biggest story: Brandon Rush tore his ACL, withdrew from the NBA Draft, will have surgery this week, and will likely be ready to play at KU next season. The 07–08 Jayhawks just got a lot better.
  • Florida A&M’s coach Mike Gillespie was placed on paid leave after his recent arrest on misdemeanor stalking charges. Wait, the FAMU coach is white??
  • Apparently Glen “Big Baby” Davis has slimmed his way to 280 lbs for the NBA Draft workouts… begging the question, why wasn’t he using this regimen throughout his career at LSU?
  • Greg Oden and Kevin Durant were asked to join Team USA – size up your bronzes now, boys.
  • Dane Bradshaw wrote a book (“Vertical Leap“) about his senior season at Tennessee, which of course presupposes that Vol fans can actually read the thing.
  • In an espn.com piece by Pat Forde, we learned that Arkansas is actually paying three head basketball coaches at the same time. Does George Steinbrenner run the Hawgs now? Nah, just the very recently retired Frank Broyles, another senile 80-year old.
  • After years of vile homerism, John Feinstein commits treason in Monday’s Washington Post – Coach K’s dark angels are already moving into the DC area on a seek-and-destroy mission. A must-read for all Duke haters.
  • Oh, and Maryland fans hate Duke also. We particularly enjoyed the Jon Scheyer portion.
  • Some industrious UCLA fans paid homage to uber-scrub Michael Roll in an epic video.
  • Finally, we reserve a moment of silence for the Charlotte Coliseum, the site of many outstanding ACC Tournament battles as well as the 1994 Final Four. It will be destroyed on Sunday.
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