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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Sports

Odd hirings cause black eye for NCAA


The NCAA has been no stranger to criticism of questionable recruiting tactics that fall under its radar, and this year’s National Signing Day for college basketball again placed the spotlight on the organization’s somewhat hypocritical nature.

National Signing Day came last Wednesday, with several big-name recruits inking national letters of intent. One of the biggest names, shooting guard Xavier Henry of Putnam City High School (Oklahoma City), did not sign a letter of intent, adding to the saga on where he would eventually land.

Apparently, Memphis might have been willing to go the extra mile to land Henry, who signed with the Tigers in November, but was released from his letter of intent after head coach John Calipari left to take the top job at Kentucky. Sporting News reported earlier this month that Henry’s father, Carl, would probably be hired as director of basketball operations at Memphis, a move that would’ve likely influenced Xavier and older brother C.J., a walk-on, to recommit to the Tigers.

Carl Henry, who coaches Oklahoma City’s Athletes First AAU team, shot down the report, telling the Lawrence Journal-World, ‘I’m not going to coach my kids (in college),’ he said.

With that said, it’s likely the other schools recruiting Xavier Henry won’t offer any coaching or athletic administrative positions to his father. However, this doesn’t excuse the fact that these situations are common among high-profile recruits, their parents and high school/AAU coaches.

In July 2008, Baylor hired one of the AAU coaches of prized point guard recruit John Wall, who still considers Baylor on his short list of possible destinations. Then, there’s Kansas State assistant coach Dalonte Hill, who makes an absurd amount of money for an assistant: $420,000 a year. Hill’s biggest contribution to Kansas State’s program was reeling in one-year wonder Michael Beasley, who he coached in Washington, D.C.’s AAU scene. But none of this trumps the infamous case of Larry Brown luring prized recruit Danny Manning to Kansas in 1985 by hiring father Ed, a truck driver and former NBA player, as an assistant coach.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

Such hirings, which have occurred in other collegiate sports, are perfectly legal, though hardly ethical. For the NCAA, which claims to hold its member institutions to the highest level of ethics, these situations are an embarrassment.

The NCAA tried to combat its hypocrisy by announcing the creation of a three-person basketball focus group in March. The group is designed to monitor and prevent programs from funneling money to the ‘handlers’ of prized recruits. While it’s hardly a long-term solution for this problem, it’s a step in the right direction.’

Still, it’s a shame that the NCAA stood back all these years and let programs make such questionable hirings before deciding to do something about it.


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