Providence Doing The Right Thing

Another open letter to Providence College basketball coach Keno Davis:

Stick to your guns, Keno.

In an unfortunate episode where it appears that there will be no winners, don't allow Providence College to be the one loser.

This is no longer about a fight that is being waged and it is no longer about whether you can win that fight. That part is over. This is about doing the right thing. This is about actions that have consequences and holding people to a certain level of accountability.

Providence College's basketball staff first discovered Joseph Young last summer and began recruiting him in earnest. At the time, Young was highly thought of within the state of Texas, but had little national reputation, and many of the bigger schools in the area, like the University of Texas, passed on him because they felt he was too small to play the two guard for them. Providence, however, had visions of Young draining three pointers in places like the Carrier Dome, and made Young a recruiting priority.

In September, Joseph Young traveled to Providence, along with his father Michael Young, then the Director of Basketball Operations at the University of Houston under head coach Tom Penders. Apparently, Young loved what he saw at Providence, and with his father's blessing, verbally committed to the Friars on September 7. At the time, the Friars' offer was the best one in the highest league, on the table for the younger Young.

Upon returning to Texas, we can assume that the elder Young had the riot act read to him by his bosses, because the father who had accompanied Joe to Providence, and had given his blessing to Joe's verbal, abruptly issued a statement describing how "heartbroken" he was over Joe's decision to play for Providence, and presumably, not for the University of Houston.

In November, Young signed a binding, National Letter of Intent with Providence. At that time, Keno, your staff stopped actively pursuing other players for the two guard spot for the class of 2010. Now, there are some who say that the NLI has no real meaning, that coaches routinely break their contracts and that kids shouldn't be held to an NLI.


In Joseph Young's case, at first it didn't seem to much matter that he was going to Providence. And then Yates High School's season began, and Yates put up national attention-grabbing point totals in each of their games, with Young leading the way. Articles on Yates began appearing in Sports Illustrated, on ESPN, and big-time college coaches began to take a second look at Joe Young.

Flash forward to the end of the season. Yates has finished the year undefeated and named the mythical high school national champion. Joe Young has averaged 27 points per game has been named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Texas and a Third Team Parade All-American. Rumors have swirled throughout the spring of other, big-time schools contacting the Youngs, which would constitute, um… tampering, since Young is bound by his NLI to Providence.

And then came the fallout at the University of Houston. Tom Penders was dismissed and James Dickey was brought in… the same James Dickey who Kevin Farrahar of friarbasketball.net did a great job in revealing was part of NCAA sanctions both at Texas Tech as a head coach and Kentucky as an assistant coach. Michael Young was retained on the basketball staff by Dickey, and within days an appeal was filed by Young to have Joe released from his NLI, and the world was made aware of Young's sick aunt, as Providence College was cast in the role of villain.

Coincidence? Depends on how much you believe in coincidences. And there's that ugly tampering word again. There is no doubt that Joseph's aunt is sick, and odds are she was sick at the time that Young signed the NLI. There is also no doubt that no one associated with Providence College wishes anything but the best for his aunt. However, national letters of intent were created for a purpose.

Make no mistake about it, Keno. Providence College is a small fish swimming in an ocean filled with barracudas, and honoring an NLI is especially important to a school like Providence. If you were to let Young out of his NLI, what happens the next time that you sign an under the radar guy who blows up into a Parade All-American caliber player during his senior year? As far as other bigger schools would be concerned, the message would be clear: Come and take our guy. We're not going to hold him to the letter of intent.

So this isn't about being in a public fight that you can't win. This isn't about caring what anybody at ESPN thinks. And this isn't about any other transgressions that may have happened within your program. This stands alone, on its own. And this hasn't appeared to hurt you on the recruiting trail. In the midst of all of this tumult and so-called "bad publicity", you landed Dre Evans from Dallas, Texas. I suspect a lot of college coaches are silently applauding your stand.

And despite Michael Young calling you a "bad guy", you're not, Keno. The bad guys are those who tampered and tried to control a young man's life. You're a good man and you're protecting your program.

So stick to your guns.

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