Coach's Corner

Probably the hardest thing about working under the authority of the NCAA is that they are constantly changing the rules. Unlike the legal system where precedents dictate both procedures and penalties, the NCAA is in constant flux and now they expect the coaches to be like cops and always and log and write down anything they say and do with recruits.

This time around, the NCAA is obviously over-reacting to the Colorado and Miami situations and the alleged use of sex and drugs or booze in recruiting. Of course the similar allegations against Oregon have quietly slipped below the radar screen because their ex-president is Mr. Big with the NCAA.

Still, largely because of Colorado, the NCAA is trying to take the celebrity status out of recruiting and colleges will no longer be allowed to fly recruit on private jets. This is a practice started down south because many of the schools actually had their own jets, complete with their own flight attendants who just happened to know every recruit's name and position. By coincidence, those flight attendants just happened to be knockouts.

Now, it also applied to the Ducks, who used a private jet to transport kids directly into Eugene (instead of into Portland then puddle jumping into the Corvallis-Eugene airport commercially).

This seems like a really sound change and puts everyone on the same page by taking kids out of first class and putting them back in coach where obviously we coaches had to travel. It will probably eliminate the Huskies use of float planes to bring in recruits from around the state under the Neuheisel administration.

Of course, they (the NCAA) had told us we couldn't do that because it would have to come out of their entertainment expenses, and where can you get a flight for 20 dollars? Of course, they also told us we couldn't use boats in recruiting, which were also a big part of our Sundays.

They also are proposing a change in accommodations and requiring the recruits to stay in regular hotels or (standard facilities) instead of resorts.

This obviously hurts both the Arizona schools as well as schools like the University of Nevada Las Vegas, but everyone will continue to use the nicest hotel in their towns.

The question will arise as to what is considered a resort hotel. In Hawaii, San Diego, Arizona, and other sunbelt areas, they are almost all resort hotels. This is an example of how the NCAA works. They always pass some sort of legislation then try to figure out how to enforce it later.

The third suggested change will be to not feed them "extravagant meals". Again, this is a very nebulous rule change. What is extravagant? Part of the recruiting process is to wine and dine people where you're trying to get them come your way. It doesn't matter if it's business or pleasure, food is usually the common denominator. If they restrict eating to just on campus facilities then the schools like Nebraska etc. are at a distinct advantage because they have great year around training tables.

Of course, this could work in Washington's favor with their remodeled Crewhouse and dining facility. Still, a lot of regular students at Washington go the Met for their social functions, so where do you draw the line?

These three proposals are all on a fast track and could be adopted as early as August 5th. As I have indicated though, they will still be figuring out just what they mean by the words "extravagant, resort, standard, and reasonable".

They have also put a ban on schools using "special" vehicles to give rides to recruits. Again, this is directed at schools like Oregon who has been using Hummers to impress recruits for the last few years. Complete with a Duck paint job and TV and high powered stereos, they have been a very impressive recruiting tool. Limousines were outlawed years ago but just like boats, the NCAA never considers the big picture when they pass a rule.

So, now the basketball coaches have also entered into the picture and have proposed their own set of changes. These recommended changes show both the strength and commitment by those coaches to get their own house in order. Basketball coaches have more clout and power over the NCAA than all the other coaches put together, including football. The reason is obvious and it has to do with money. Without basketball the NCAA would be broke. They survive almost entirely based upon the basketball tournaments. They even distribute their brackets throughout the nation so people can bet and have office pools and create a madness related to March.

Let's not go there.

At any rate at least basketball is trying to say and do the right things because certainly the NCAA would never do anything to hurt that sport. There are easily more violations per capita in basketball than any other sport. Their recruiting has always been creative, high pressured, and extremely cutthroat and competitive. The graduation rate ranks below every sport in the country. Unless, of course, you include Women's' Basketball, then it comes way up.

Consider if you will Bob Huggins of Cincinnati. He gets busted flat out cheating on players. One of his assistants goes down and Huggins walks away unscathed. He gets a DUI and walks again. He graduates ZERO percent of his kids.

He wins championships and has a lot of clout and always gets a get-out-of-jail card.

Eddie Sutton was busted flat out cheating at Kentucky and Sonic assistant Dwayne Casey ended up taking the rap. Sutton is recycled and now much revered at Oklahoma State.

Bobby Knight at least graduated his kids but his boorish behavior and bully style offends many who follow the sport. He, too, continues to get away with stuff because of who he is, but at least he doesn't cheat.

Even the legendary John Wooden never put Lew Alcindor on scholarship. Why? So he could live with UCLA alum Sam Gilbert on his estate and make more money by not being on scholarship.

I can remember recruiting a German kid for the Huskies in basketball. I picked him up and checked him into his hotel where he proceeded to unpack and take out a new pair of Orange basketball shoes plus a brand new Adidas warmup that also had Orange trim. Now, he had just visited Syracuse and their coaches allowed him to buy them all for $20.00. I told him that was a violation and he said when they visited him in Germany that he received clothes also.

Look at the golden boy at Missouri. His program is in deep do-do and nothing is going to happen to him. His assistants will take the rap unless he gets caught by his own school, and then they may punish him themselves. Don't count on the NCAA ever punishing head coaches in basketball. You don't kill the Golden Goose.

Still, basketball is at least addressing their own problems of poor graduation. Believe me their voice will be heard by the NCAA.

Of all the proposals, the one that caught my eye the most was the one that will require each school to adopt a written policy outlining the guidelines for official visits prohibiting the use of alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling in recruiting.

I find it quite ironic that Washington instituted a written Student-athlete Host sheet well before anyone else in the nation did. When I was still there, we had all of our hosts and hostesses read and sign it for every single recruit they hosted. It was a complete list of do's and don't, yet when everything hit the fan, we were guilty of "lack of institutional control."

Oh well, that's the NCAA and that's the way it works. It'll be interesting to see how they interpret their newest verbiage coming down the pike.

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