NCAA is considering new recruiting restrictions for men's basketball

By Eric Prisbell
Thursday, October 22, 2009

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors will consider a new set of men's basketball recruiting restrictions aimed at cracking down on college coaches who attempt to gain access to prospects for a price.

The reform package, which will be considered at the board's Oct. 29 meeting, is the latest attempt by the NCAA to keep pace with individuals who look for loopholes in men's basketball recruiting rules. The proposal is intended to address the growing number of ways in which money is funneled to individuals associated with prospects, and the NCAA has promised to hold coaches accountable by suspending violators from postseason or even regular season play.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany called the current basketball recruiting landscape "chaos" in a news release put out by the NCAA, saying that "if you starve the system of money, prospects will be free to make decisions on the basis of the right educational and athletic considerations, rather than because there is a third-party adult who is influencing him as a result of benefits received."

Michigan Coach John Beilein, who chairs the NCAA's Division I Men's Basketball Ethics Coalition, said the package represents a "positive step toward a fair and level playing field. Most coaches recruit within the spirit of the rules, but whenever someone has the opportunity to exploit gray areas in the legislation, those who abide by the intent and letter of the rules are left at a disadvantage."

Speaking at the Big East men's basketball media day in New York, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim expressed skepticism about the proposal.

"Are there going to be some bad cases [among] the 3,000 or 4,000 kids recruited? Yeah, but are you going to legislate it out? I don't have a lot of faith in that," Boeheim said.

The proposal pinpoints practices used by individuals associated with a prospect to make money in exchange for a college coach's access to that player.

One involves college coaches hiring individuals associated with a prospect for non-coaching positions. For example, shortly after highly regarded prospect Gus Gilchrist enrolled at South Florida in June 2008, his adviser and personal trainer, Terrelle Woody, was hired as the school's video and conditioning assistant.

The NCAA intends to prohibit schools from hiring individuals associated with a prospect for two years before or after the prospect's anticipated enrollment. The NCAA's definition of an individual close to a prospect includes parents, guardians, handlers, athletic trainers and coaches.

Another practice -- which has become common, even for mid-level prospects -- is for schools to hire individuals close to a prospect to work at the schools' summer basketball camps. For instance, Joe Davis, an individual affiliated with prospect Mychal Parker, asked ACC schools to hire him to work their elite camps last summer in exchange for access to the player, sources familiar with Parker's recruitment said.

To prohibit the payment of fees to individuals associated with a prospect, the NCAA intends to allow schools to hire only its own staff members or enrolled students at its camps and clinics.

What's more, the funneling of cash recruiting inducements between college and AAU coaches, in the form of tax-deductible donations usually made by college athletic boosters at the behest of the coach, has become common, according to several prominent college and AAU coaches.

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