Gary Parrish at CBS Sportsline commented last week on the article in the Charlotte Observer that while UNC did probably break a rule when Raymond Felton talked to Iman Shumpert on his visit, the rule itself is just another in a long line of illogical NCAA rules:
But that doesn’t make the rule any less insane, and if you want to know why coaches are frustrated by the NCAA, this is a good place to start, because the idea that a kid considering playing basketball at a school can’t spend time with people who actually played basketball at that same school is ridiculous. In fact, I’d argue there’s no better or more useful resource to a recruit than a former player, and it’s silly that resource can’t be utilized.
Last weekend I was at Florida, and a lot of prospects were there too. Also hanging around campus were 70 former players, and so school officials were forced to actually chaperon the entire weekend, and for what? To make sure Joakim Noah didn’t tell Dexter Strickland that Billy Donovan is a good coach?
The NCAA prohibits recruits from gathering as much information as possible before making a college choice, then we wonder why recruits transfer following their freshman seasons and state they didn’t really know what they were getting into. The whole thing is absurd. But with any luck someday somebody in charge will realize as much and take action, and then maybe the Raymond Feltons of the world can speak with whomever they choose when they choose.
Here is the bottom line. The NCAA does not want anyone outside the coaching staff and current players talking to recruits when they visit. And in classic NCAA fashion they would rather set off a nuclear weapon than actually nuance anything into a reasonable policy(see the text messaging ban for another example) In this case the NCAA is designating former players as “representatives” of the school which is a nice way of saying they are boosters and as we all know boosters are the root of all collegiate athletics evil(along with Bob Huggins, John Calipari and now Nick Saban.) The problem with the designation is it removes a valid source of information for recruits to tap. The decision of which school to attend for a top tier basketball or football player can affect their career in college and in the NBA if they get that far. It is a big freaking deal and they should be entitled to every bit of information they can get. Do some schools have an advantage in this arena like UNC does with dozens of former and current NBA players in their history? Sure but understand the rule at hand is not concerned with UNC or any other school getting an advantage from former NBA players giving sales pitches but rather with boosters giving inducements to recruits or making promises to them during the course conversations they might have.
The NCAA has a serious issue in breaking down certain rules to make them reasonable. I see no harm with having a recruit meet former players as long as it only happens during the campus visit and under the supervision of someone in the athletic department like say the compliance office. Any contact outside the campus visit or on any other grounds would fall under the old rule. The NCAA simply needs to be flexible and makes some exceptions on the grounds of common sense.
And one more thing. If this ends up being a violation this will be the second time Roy Williams has had his wrist slapped breaking a rule that involves former players being tagged with some lifelong designation by the NCAA. In the Kansas case, players were not permitted to receive gifts because they are “student athletes for life” and in this case recruits cannot talk to former Heels who are not in school because they are “athletic representatives.” As a former student-athlete I am slightly annoyed that the NCAA goes around designating people with lifetime labels. I think for the heck of it I am going to find out if UNC Greensboro is recruiting any Raleigh high school cross country runners and go down to talk to them just to see if I anything happens……just kidding