Amid a vast NCAA landscape peppered with recruiting violations and scandals at major college athletics programs, Duke University’s basketball program is widely regarded as a beacon of compliance and ethical and moral infallibility — at least beyond Tobacco Road.
That image has been cultivated by head coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose glossy resume in Durham includes four national championships and an Olympic gold medal.
But in a summer full of NCAA football and basketball investigations, it seems even squeaky-clean Coach K may not be beyond reproach.
Last week Krzyzewski reportedly spoke to highly-regarded high school recruit Alex Poythress while the 6-7 forward was in Orlando for an AAU tournament. Poythress told CBSSports.com that Krzyzewski offered him a scholarship — which could be an NCAA violation.
The NCAA prohibits coaches from contacting recruits during tournaments. A source told ESPN.com that Poythress called Coach K — who was in Orlando watching Poythress and other recruits — Tuesday night after his Georgia Stars team was eliminated from the AAU Super Showcase and before the start of AAU nationals at the same site. While technically, Poythress may not have been playing at the time of the call, Duke is trying to clarify the rule with the NCAA.
Since the rule is considered to be part of a “gray area” in NCAA regulations, a Duke violation is expected to be a secondary violation. According to the source, Duke would likely accept penalties for a minor violation.
In a statement, Duke spokesman Jon Jackson stated the obvious:
“Proper adherence to NCAA bylaws has always been, and will continue to be, a cornerstone of Duke Athletics.”
On Monday USA Today published a curious poll asking whether Duke — if found guilty of recruiting violations — should get leniency for past good behavior. I’d be more interested to see the results of the same poll handed out to fellow coaches across the country.
Rival fans may be giddy over a potential crack in Duke’s armor, but up the road in Chapel Hill, the news will do little to make up for the calamitous scandal surrounding North Carolina’s football team.
Last week UNC fired head coach Butch Davis and announced longtime athletic director Dick Baddour would step down as soon as the school lands a replacement in the midst of an ongoing NCAA investigation involving an academic cheating scandal and former players’ improper contact with agents.
And while North Carolina State fans are laughing it up in Raleigh, they’re preparing for a season without stud quarterback Russell Wilson who transferred to Wisconsin this summer after leading the ACC in passing yards per game and carrying the Wolfpack to a 9-4 record in 2010.
Suffice it to say, the summer of 2011 has not been kind to collegiate athletics in North Carolina’s Research Triangle.