Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Billy Gillespie Loves to Piss off the NABC, and does the NCAA's Rules Committee Actually do Anything?

Billy Gillespie, the head coach of the University of Kentucky, has already had one run-in with the NABC this year, resulting in the NABC denouncing the recruitment of athletes before their sophomore year in high school. Well, Gillespie has once again drawn the ire of the NABC, this time for his decision to hold Kentucky's Big Blue Madness on October 10th, a full week before the legal start of practice. Andy Katz has reported in his blog that the NABC is none to happy about this. According to Katz:

The NABC board of directors said that "skill development events should not be open to the public." The NABC said the initial intent was for coaches to assist their players in skill development and create stronger relationships. But by "making such skill development sessions public events, they appear to be geared more for recruiting than skill development sessions."
Let's set the record straight. In both of these situations, Gillespie broke no rules. In the case of Midnight Madness, the rules clearly state that teams are allowed two hours of skill development per week, and Gillespie has decided to use his two hours as Midnight Madness. It is actually an incredibly smart move. Think about the recruiting advantages - since every other school in the country (save Illinois, they're doing their Midnight Madness on the 11th to coincide with a football weekend) will have their Midnight Madness on the 17th, Gillespie can theoretically get any recruit in the country to come. And you better believe the outpouring of Big Blue Nation is quite a recruiting tool.

The bottom line is that this is why Kentucky hired Gillespie. He finds the grey areas and the loopholes where he may be going against the spirit of the law, but still remains within the letter of the law. Yea, I'll admit I would probably be just as upset as any coach in the country if I saw guys like Billy Gillespie, Bruce Weber, and Billy Donovan consistently and continually pushing the envelope. But isn't that what makes them great coaches? Isn't that what you hire them for? To find any and all legal advantages that will help make their basketball teams the best they can be.

That is exactly what Gillespie is doing, and although I don't necessarily agree with what he is doing or how he is going about doing it, you gotta give the guy the credit he deserves.

To be honest, I would be much more concerned about the lack of policing when it comes to major infractions than when Kentucky holds their Big Blue Madness. Read this article by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. The last time that a major (meaning a top nine conference) basketball team was busted was when Kansas was caught for "improprieties" in October of 2006. You're telling me that in the past two years, not one recruit has received any benefits from booster's; not one grade has been changed; not one agent has been handing money to players. According to Wetzel, the NCAA used to average seven infractions a year from 1986-2006 in football and basketball (it's big-money sports), but now, even with their number of investigators (20) and meetings of the infractions committee (seven times last year) at all-time highs, they have not found any infractions in 24 months. And this is with NCAA President Myles Brand openly saying there is an epidemic of cheating.

Wetzel comes to a simple conclusion:
It never has been so obvious the NCAA is protecting its big-time programs and television money.
Mine is a little bit different. I think the NCAA is just too busy going after teams like Middle Tennessee State women's volleyball and Texas Southern tennis to worry about things like having notoriously unsavory characters (Ronald Guillory) hanging around some of the NCAA's biggest stars (OJ Mayo).

At this point, Gillespie might as well just start having full blown practices in August. Will the NCAA even do anything about it?
See below for full list of the 2008 NCAA rules infractions.

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