Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What is to come of Frank Haith?

From a hoops perspective, the biggest issue that comes out of the explosive Yahoo! report on former Miami booster Nevan Shapiro -- beyond how Jim Larranaga probably feels about leaving George Mason -- is the job status of new Missouri head coach and former Miami head coach Frank Haith.

The accusations he is facing are bad. Really bad. Simply put, he was aware -- if not the facilitator -- of a $10,000 payment to the family of top 25 recruit DeQuan Jones back in the summer of 2008. Its a bit more complicated than that, yes, but you really don't need to know much more.

Now, the NCAA still needs to do their due diligence. They must investigate and corroborate the accusations laid out by Charles Robinson. But if those accusations turn out to be true, there is a good chance that Haith can be hit with a show-cause penalty, which essentially means that the NCAA must give the OK for a program to hire him.

The problem is, as Gary Parrish points out, the NCAA is going to have their work cut out for them proving what Shapiro said. The deal was made in cash -- you can't trace cash -- that went from a booster to an assistant to a player's family. That money never touched Haith's hands and unless there is a smoking gun or Haith finds his conscience and admits it, how will the NCAA prove Haith's knowledge?

That doesn't mean that it will save Haith's job at Missouri, just like Tim Floyd wasn't able to save his job at USC after being accused of paying OJ Mayo's handler. But what it likely will mean is that Haith isn't hit with an NCAA violation, like Floyd, who is now coaching at UTEP.

"I am more than happy to cooperate with the national office on this issue and look forward to a quick resolution," Haith said in a statement released on Tuesday evening. "The NCAA has instructed me not to comment further at this time in order to protect the integrity of their review, so I appreciate your understanding in this matter. The reports questioning my personal interactions with Mr. Shapiro are not an accurate portrayal of my character."

Its interesting that Haith offers more than a "no comment" and avoids categorically denying the report.

Its unlikely that Missouri will fire Haith before the season starts. Hiring a second head coach in the span of five months would be a nightmare, especially when that coach would probably want to pick his own coaching staff. Would it be worth it to promote a staff member to the interim position? Probably not.

The other thing to think about is recruiting. Haith already has commitments from three players in the Class of 2012 and one player from the Class of 2013. Do those commitments hold if Haith's job is uncertain? What kind of recruiting class is he going to be able to pull out of 2012? Do they still have a shot at Rodney Purvis?

Its tough to see this getting better for Missouri before it gets worse.

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