The picture above showcases everything frustrating about college basketball recruiting. This is a picture done by Duke students of Harrison Barnes in a Duke jersey. It was held up during Barnes’ visit to Duke last weekend and was surely a cool thing for Barnes to see. Now officially, that picture is an NCAA violation. If Duke had the equivalent of Jerry Tipton in town, he would have written about the issue and Duke would have had to self-report the picture as an NCAA violation. However, even though Dana O Neill and others made mention of the “violations” when fans chanted recruits’ names at Madness, I am sure this blog will be the only one to mention this picture.
At its core, the rule preventing students from chanting, making pictures, etc for recruits is ludicrous. In today’s media world, kids know when recruits visit. And there isnt ANYTHING the NCAA or even the individual colleges can do to prevent such actions by students. By having an unenforceable rule on the book, you allow the media to handpick which “violations” they will choose to highlight and some programs will be picked out over others. WVU has signs, Duke has a big picture and UK does chants. Only one makes national news…and its all because of the decision of the various media members. Is that how violations should be highlighted…by the decisions of local media or ESPN? With such an absurd rule, that is what happens.
However that is by far not the only problem with college basketball recruiting. According to the aforementioned Dana O Neill (who when not co-signing articles with Pat Forde, actually does quite a good job), another set of college basketball recruiting problems is being addressed by the NCAA. That of course is the ridiculous situation in which schools spend money in ways that end up influencing the college choices of various recruits. Coaches have weighed in on the issue and identified four changes that must be made:
1. Paying AAU coaches to “work” summer camps
2. Giving “donations” to AAU teams that are set up as nonprofits
3. Having those paid by players setting up “scouting services” that then force schools who are recruiting those players to pay to play.
4. Package deals, hiring someone with an association to the student.
All four of these have become common recruiting practices and up until now, were perfectly legal. The AAU coaches working summer camps issue was addressed here in Kentucky during the Gillispie era, and is one that caused misgivings among many, even though it was legal by the NCAA. The donations issue is one that is very common on the West Coast I am told, and has been a consistent issue for some time. And the “scouting services” issue has risen dramatically in the last five years as “scouts” become associated with AAU programs or players and provide “information” on those players for a fee that is often paid by the school. This isnt a Dave Telep or Evan Daniels legitimate scouting service, but instead is usually an individual or set of individuals being paid for their connection to an AAU program or player. It gives a bad name to the real scouting services and has become an all-too-often end-around of normal NCAA recruiting rules.
The NCAA is looking to potentially stop all three practices. These changes are most definitely needed and should be combined with an end to the ludicrous rule that turns fans into violaters for simply being excited about a campus visit. The NCAA will never achieve total rationality in its rules, but these steps would be a good start.