While most of the nation watches in personal disgust as allegations of recruiting improprieties continue to surface at the University of Colorado, collegiate officials around this state are monitoring the events on a professional level.
"We all live in glass houses," said Rodney Garner, Georgia's
coordinator. "You don't want to throw rocks. Right now, we've been
pretty fortunate we haven't had anything come up."
At Colorado, the district attorney's office has alleged Buffalo players
provided recruits on official visits with strippers on numerous
occasions and also threw parties at which recruits were enticed to come
to the school with sex. The charges came to light after three women
alleged in separate cases they were raped at those parties. Since then,
at least three more women have charged a Colorado player or recruit with
Colorado officials have denied knowledge of any rapes or the use of
strippers and sex to lure potential players. The rape allegations at
Colorado make that case unique, and horrifying, but the thought that a
potential player may be spending some of his time on campus in ways that
are perfectly legal but wouldn't make his mama proud isn't far from the
minds of coaches and administrators at schools around the nation.
Georgia Tech athletics director Dave Braine said his department
monitors official visits as closely as it can, but he knows a night on
the town with the boys isn't going to show up on the official record
even if it is happening. Like Garner, he admits to holding his breath
and hoping for the best at times.
"For anyone to say it couldn't happen at their place, they're
Braine said. "It could happen anywhere."
Georgia running back Michael Cooper, who was a highly-sought prospect
two seasons ago, said he wasn't enticed with anything inappropriate
during his recruiting trips, but he knows not everyone had a similar
lily white experience.
"We went to a house party but nothing like totally out of the
ordinary," he said. "You hear stories from guys who came here and
about their visits to other schools."
College athletics teams use official visits to sell their program to
high school athletes. The schools are allowed to pay for a player's
transportation, lodging and meals. Usually players arrive on Friday
afternoon or Saturday morning and stay until Sunday.
The days are filled with discussions with the head coach and assistant
coaches, meetings with academic counselors, tours of the campus and
athletics facilities, and lots and lots of food. What the nights are
filled with is largely up to current athletes, 18- to 22-year-olds who
serve as official hosts.
That leaves schools "at the mercy of players," admitted David
the Yellow Jackets' recruiting coordinator.
At Georgia and Georgia Tech, like most places around the country,
recruits get free time with their hosts following dinner on Friday and
Saturday night. Officials at both schools say they do their best to make
sure their official hosts know right from wrong.
"You try to educate your kids on the does and dont's," Garner
lot of it is you depend on them to make good, sound judgments."
Said Wilson: "We educate the kids about what areas of town we're not
excited about them going to."
At Georgia, strip joints are off limits for recruits and current
players any time of the year, Garner said. In fact, he wonders how any
hosts are affording much entertainment on the $30 per diem they're given
to host a recruit. (If a player hosts two recruits, he gets $45 per
"It ain't a whole lot of money," Garner said. "Some of
these big 'ole
jokers, you take them to Waffle House or Cracker Barrel, he's going to
eat $25 right there. With the resources the kids have, I find it hard to
imagine our kids doing that."
There is no enforced curfew on official visits, but schools try to do
what they can to encourage players to be back in their beds at a
reasonable hour. One of Georgia's strategies is to wear a prospect out
before they're set loose. The Bulldogs usually don't let their prospects
have free time until 11 p.m. each night, Garner said.
"You take up so much of their time," he said. "We've got
At Tech, each player meets early Sunday morning with head coach Chan
Gailey, which Wilson hopes encourages a good night's sleep.
"If a kid is really interested in coming here, they have to be
The Bulldogs have traditionally been more worried about players and
prospects fighting downtown rather than ending up where they shouldn't,
but that will change now thanks to the events at Colorado, Garner said.
"We felt like we were doing a good job of educating our
said. "We've talked about it, and we're going to be even more thorough
now. We're going to do much more."
The NCAA is trying to make sure of that. Last week, the organization
formed a 16-person committee that will be chaired by NCAA vice president
David Berst and will focus on the campus visit experience. The committee
is expected to release its findings by April 20, and everyone expects to
be operating under a new set of rules by the next National Signing Day.
"I think the whole climate of recruiting is going to change,"
But Wilson wonders how a committee can change the behavior of 18- to
21-year-old college males on their own at all hours of the night.
"Most of the time, we're talking about adults, 18 years of age,"
said. "He has to make good decisions. Certainly they could legislate a
lot of things, but I don't know how you can legislate somebody making
It may be that schools have to stick with the status quo: seeking out
responsible hosts, repeating their "be careful, be smart" mantra and
hoping like heck to get through the weekend with no problems.
"You're excited for the weekend coming up," Garner said,
probably more excited when it's over and there weren't any incidents
that came up."
Avoiding Recruiting Scandals
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