Below if a very cynical article and reaction to the NCAA rules that are being viewed this week. At no point is there a comment from the non-scholastic basketball community. No balance in the story – or balancing opinion from non-collegiate sources. The NCAA wants to make the long-documented NCAA D1 institutional ”developmental” camps, especially the new breed of “Elite Camp” into full-blown “Recruiting Camps” as they have eliminated the competition from this business over the past 15 years. Not happy with the elimination of the Summer Camp business with definitions, calendar and contact rules they are working on creating a vector of “Employment Rules” and other rules to take control of all aspects of scholastic (via the constant message of dealing with the HS coach) and non-scholastic through elimination or minimization. Mr. Greenberg cites a $1M contract? Who in non-scholastic basketball is dealing with these numbers. Maybe a handful if that? This comment – more clever people conniving to profit off a high school kid’s talent. – below doesn’t acknowledge that colleges and their coaches do also profit from these same kids. All of these items are about who “negotiates” the system and who can not and those who view their $1M contract in peril. As for the “system” they complain about – do they think that this wasn’t the norm in the past? I’ve heard too many “stories” about the big-time men’s programs of the past and how they “got” players. Does the NCAA and today’s coaches think that the high-school coach and today’s parents don’t “understand the system” too? Many of today’s parents want what they didn’t get when they played or saw around them including the stories. They want their child to benefit from the game that brings riches to the college coaches and programs too. Please take time and read this closely and re-read it again later for clarity. These “items” should be addressed and not just accepted blithely.
Cleaning up hoops recruiting from within
By Dana O’Neil
October 28, 2009
It wasn’t so much a demand as a suggestion: If Seth Greenberg was interested in getting a certain high school prospect to his campus for a camp, maybe he could find a paying gig for the prospect’s summer-league coach. The coach could be a camp counselor, speaker, whatever would work.Except Greenberg, the Virginia Tech head coach, has a long-standing practice of not hiring outsiders for his camps. So there were no jobs available for the coach.
No big deal, the summer-league coach explained.
Except, unfortunately, the prospect wouldn’t be able to make it.
Welcome to college basketball recruiting 2009, where prospects may no longer be paid but can just as surely be bought.
Basketball prospects often come with a posse full of people with their hands out, looking for backdoor payments that may not land you a player if you pay them, but will assuredly eliminate you from consideration if you don’t.
“It’s legalized extortion,” Greenberg said. “And what happens is you end up prostituting your value system because it affects your livelihood. If you’re in the next-to-last year of a $1 million contract, what are you going to do? It’s risk and reward.”
The sport and its coaches have taken the hits up until now, criticized and shamed for finding ways to reinterpret the NCAA rulebook.
But the game could be on the eve of some drastic changes. And the people who are proposing the changes? Coaches.
Fed up and frustrated by the state of their game, coaches have contributed their opinions and feedbacks to a package of legislation that the NCAA Division I board of directors will consider on Thursday.
The recruiting reform package has one aim — to curb the payola in college basketball — and already has received the endorsement of the conference commissioners and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
“There is a very strong feeling amongst our coaches that this money trail has got to be shut down,” said NABC executive director Jim Haney. “We want to break down that perception that everyone has their hand out and is looking at colleges as a bank. I want to stress that it’s not everyone who has their hand out, and certainly there are some among our coaching ranks more than willing to pay the money, but the overall feeling is it has to stop.”
Among the meatier suggestions in the package:
• Eliminating so-called package deals, making it nearly impossible for a college program to hire any of the myriad of hangers-on associated with prospective student-athletes. US EMPLOYMENT LAWS?
• Disallowing college coaches to subscribe to recruiting services run by people associated with prospects. This would curtail services offered by AAU programs (and others) that charge colleges to subscribe but sometimes offer little to no information on the prospect. TOO VAGUE – WHO’S THE JUDGE OF THIS?
• Preventing payment to nonprofit organizations benefiting summer-club teams, prospects or people attached to prospects. TOO VAGUE – WHO’S THE JUDGE OF THIS?
• Preventing coaches from hiring outsiders to work at their camps and clinics.TOO VAGUE – WHO’S THE JUDGE OF THIS? AND US EMPLOYMENT LAWS?
All are designed, in the words of Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, to “bright line” what is legal and illegal in a portion of the black-and-white rulebook that has been smudged gray. VAGUE
The board of directors has the authority to enact some of the changes immediately. Most would go in effect by May 2010.
“I think our coaches were looking for a way to say no to these types of practices,” said LuAnn Humphrey, the NCAA’s associate director of enforcement and a member of the focus group. “There’s been a lot of support for most of the concepts in these proposals.”
As potentially ground-shaking as the rules are, the punishments come with equally sharp teeth.
Head or assistant coaches could be suspended from participation from regular-season games as well as the NCAA tournament, and the penalties would follow him to subsequent jobs.
Also, basketball players caught in the web could be rendered permanently ineligible at a school found guilty of one of these infractions.
“These are potential career-killers,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. “I’m not saying that it’s too strong, but I just expressed that the punishment to a person’s career will be much greater than the single game we’re talking about.”
That, however, could be the best solution.
“My view is, the head coach knows everything,” Delany said. “That ought to be the presumption going forward. The notion that any CEO in a small operation can take the ostrich defense ought to be eliminated.”
The only proposed change that is receiving any real resistance is a limit to who can and can’t work on-campus camps.
Otherwise there is almost universal consensus on the package and an expectation that it will pass.
The lunatics long have been running basketball’s asylum, with more and more clever people conniving to profit off a high school kid’s talent.
In some regards, the NCAA rulebook opened its own Pandora’s box. By putting more and more restrictions on how often a college coach can either meet with or talk to a prospect or a prospect’s family, the NCAA has opened wide the door for other people associated with high school players to waltz through and demand attention.
“It used to be, you had to recruit the mom,” Haney said. “Those days are over. You don’t have the time for that kind of contact, so we’ve almost legitimized these third parties.”
And taking more than their offered inch, some of the third parties have turned college basketball into a world of shakedown-for-profit, a land where peripheral people use players as pawns in a high-stakes game for profit.
It is quid pro quo at its best — or maybe more accurately, at its worst — and has led to a crisis of conscience for some coaches who are tired of being forced to play dirty to survive.
“It’s never been voiced to me, but there’s an unwritten rule: You want my kid, you pay the price,” said Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel. “You just know it because people have that reputation, and the problem is, if you don’t do it, someone else will.”
Out of such frustration grew the focus group. Put together in June 2008, it marks the first time three members of the NCAA enforcement staff have been asked to concentrate exclusively on one sport.
Using opinions, information and suggestions it solicited from coaches and conference commissioners, the focus group developed the rule suggestions that will go before the board.
The primary targets:
• Package deals: Around for decades, the hire-me-get-him deals have grown exponentially as basketball staffs have mushroomed to the point that a 4:1 staff to player ratio is common. Video coordinators have assistants; strength coaches have assistants. Even assistants have assistants.
Under the proposal being considered, “during a two-year period prior or subsequent to the anticipated or actual enrollment of a prospective student-athlete, an institution may not employ and individual associated with the prospective student-athlete in any athletics department noncoaching position.” WHAT ABOUT COLLEGES HIRING THEIR OWN RELATIVES ON STAFF? ARE THERE ISSUES WITH EMPLOYMENT LAW?
The key words: non-coaching position.
“I’m no angel and I’m no altar boy,” said Seton Hall’s Bobby Gonzalez. “But in 10 years as a head coach, I can tell you I’ve never had to hire a guy to get a kid. Maybe it’s because I’ve been at schools like Manhattan and Seton Hall, where we didn’t have the resources even if we wanted to, but I’d like to think that I’d never be that desperate. Now if they put the rule in, it’s the same for everybody: You have to work to get a kid. It eliminates another line between the haves and the have-nots.”
And it’s not just the head coach who would be penalized if he tried to pull off a package deal. “If such a hire is made following the enrollment of a prospective student-athlete after they enroll at the institution within the two year-period,” the recommendation reads, “the student-athlete becomes permanently ineligible for competition.”
• Payments to not-for-profits run by people associated with prospects: Call this one a borrowed page from the football playbook — the end-around. Countless summer-league teams are organized as not-for-profit organizations, making payments to them seem like little more than a charitable donation. The truth is, the money goes to the basketball team, which means indirectly it’s going to a prospect. MORE WORK HAS TO BE DONE TO PROVE SOME OF THESE…. INDIRECTLY? AND “ASSOCIATED”.. TOO VAGUE. THEN WHO MAKES THESE RULES? THE HAVES OR UNTOUCHABLES? NO VISIBILITY HERE…
The new legislation would require every coach to annual state in writing that he has not donated or solicited funds on behalf of such nonprofit organizations. TOO VAGUE STILL – BETTER VERBAGE NEEDED.
• Payments to recruiting services run by people associated with prospects: These aren’t to be confused with the legit services run by people like Dave Telep, Tom Konchalski and Clark Francis, who work independently of any team. WHO MADE THIS DECISION? Presumably these services in question contain information on a coach’s various players at various tournaments. Except most of the time they aren’t updated with new information, or they contain no information at all. BETTER GUIDELINES? THIS IS WHERE YB21 CAN HELP.
Yet to stay in with the people with the connections, a basketball program can spend upwards of $15,000 on recruiting services alone. THE NEXT COMPLAINT WILL BE ABOUT THOSE WHO CAN “BUY” THE “LEGAL” SERVICES… THEY SHOULD BENEFIT FROM THAT INFORMATION EITHER…
“When you have the amount of money generated like we do in college athletics, there will always be people who would like to be compensated, some fairly and some unfairly,” said Florida head coach Billy Donovan. “Some of these provide legitimate information, but others? There’s nothing, and yet if you don’t subscribe to their service, they’ll give you a hard time recruiting.” YB21 HAS GUIDELINES TO HELP THIS.. BUT IN THE END ITS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS – THEY WON’T GO AWAY.
• Who can and cannot work at camps: This is the stickler. As currently written, the rule would only allow a coach to hire students and staff members from his own campus. AND THEN THE SMALL STAFF COULDN’T HANDLE A BIG CAMP LET ALONE EXPERIENCE AND TEACHING OR RECRUITING.
The real target is ending the gravy train of excessive payment to people associated with prospects. But because of the broad language of the rule as written, coaches are concerned that the best networking tool for young coaches could disappear. THIS IS TRUE AND WHAT OCCURS IN FOOTBALL. PAY FOR EXPERIENCE NOT RELATIONSHIPS. – PLUS, DOESN’T THIS OPEN TO DOOR TO DISCUSS “EXCESSIVE PAY FOR COLLEGE COACHES” AS TALKED ABOUT BY SOME?
“When I was just getting started, Mike Krzyzewski told me to work camps to get my foot in the door,” Capel said. “If we couldn’t work camps, my father never would have been a head coach, so I don’t think you can eliminate that across the board.” THANK YOU
The real wrinkle in all of this is whether the new rules will work.
Eradicating cynicism in college basketball is almost more difficult than erasing rule-breaking.
The pie-eyed and naive opinion is that this will eradicate the problems forever and that coaches will at least wipe one level of grime off their sport.
“We are incredibly resourceful in this business,” Gonzalez said. “We’re like the best thieves in the world, the guys who figure out how to break into the impossible-to-break bank. There are things we won’t even think of until the rules are put in, so we’ll see. We’ll see.” THE BEST WAY TO VIEW THIS IS TO THINK ABOUT WHO (COLLEGES) BENEFITS FROM THIS AND WHO DOESN’T – THEN YOU SEE THE INTENT…
At least this is a start.
THE COMMENTS IN RED ABOVE AND THE NOTE AT THE START ARE TO STIR DISCUSSION AMONG THOSE INVOLVED IN NON-SCHOLASTIC YOUTH BASKETBALL AND YB21.ORG. SOME OF THE “ISSUES” ARE OLD. I ONCE SUGGESTED TO ONE PERSON IN THIS STORY FOR THE NCAA TO INSITITUTE A $25,000 REWARD AND AN ADDITIONAL SCHOLARSHIP IF THEY TURN IN ANOTHER PROGRAM AND IT STICKS. AND, THERE WAS NO DISCUSSION ON MINOR VIOLATIONS – THE ONES THAT DISAPPEAR AT THE CONFERENCE-LEVEL OFFICE. WHY ENDANGER THE BB PROGRAM TO HAVE RETRIBUTION FROM PUNISHED SCHOOL TALKING ABOUT THE COMPLAINER’S FOOTBALL PROGRAM WHICH IS A BIGGER HIT…. A LOT OF ITEMS. WE ALL KNOW THE INTENT – WE WISH THAT YOUTH BASKETBALL BE A PARTNER IN THIS CRITICAL DISCUSSION. — mike