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With Trouble Brewing for USC Football, Carroll Splits

January 13, 2010 under College Football, Uncategorized

by Eddie Mayrose

USC Football Program Left Holding The Bag

As has become tradition in college sports whenever the NCAA investigators show up, Pete Carroll, Head Coach of pete_carrollthe USC Trojans, beat it out of town a step ahead of the sheriff.  Laughably, Carroll denied that the  investigation into his USC Football program had any bearing on his decision, citing opportunity as the only reason for his departure to the Seattle Seahawks.  The fact remains, however, that the three year probe into alleged infractions involving payments made by boosters to USC stars Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight has been concluded, with the NCAA Committee on Infractions scheduled to announce its findings in late February.

Carroll is merely the latest coach to turn tail once improprieties have been exposed.  These snake oil salesmen jump at the first job offer made to them once it all hits the fan, leaving their former players and employers holding the bag.  Now, the universities are just as culpable as the coach due to their responsibility for their own compliance with NCAA regulations.  But what of the players that committed, not only to the university, but the coach himself?  A coach that sat in their living rooms and promised their parents that he’d take care of their sons.  What becomes of them?

Right now, they have but two options: stay or transfer.  Stay; and take the chance that the new coach, one that did not recruit them, owes them no loyalty and may espouse a system not suited for their talents or transfer to another school and sit out an entire season.  Some choice.

When will the NCAA, charged with protecting the best interests of these student athletes, realize the gross inequity that currently exists?  There is no way to prevent a coach from moving to another school; nor should there be, as many more of these changes are legitimate upward moves than not.  However, the NCAA can easily establish two rules that give the player some security.

First, make the coach carry the sanction with him to his new job.  USC gets two years probation?  Carroll’s new employer goes on probation for the same amount of time should he ever return to the college ranks. Think that’ll promote compliance?  How hard would the University of Kentucky have pursued John Calipari if the sanctions against the Memphis basketball program would be theirs, as well?  Second, and most importantly, allow the player to transfer without sitting a year whenever the coach leaves; no matter the reason.  Why punish them for infractions committed before they even arrived on campus?

Unfortunately, there is collateral damage with each of these moves. After just one season as Tennessee kiffinFootball coach, Lane Kiffin takes over for Carroll, leaving behind an entire class of kids that came to Knoxville after being promised by Kiffin that he would be their coach.  Worse, there are nine high school recruits committed to Tennessee that graduated early in order to enroll in January and participate in spring practice.  What happens to them should they decide to transfer; especially now that many schools have committed to other players?  Don’t ask Pete Carroll or Kiffin because neither one of them care.  Nor, apparently, do the stuffed shirts at the NCAA.


August 27, 2009 under College Basketball, Uncategorized

In light of the NCAA’s decision to vacate the thirty eight wins amassed by the calipariUniversity of Memphis men’s basketball team in the 2007-2008 season due to compliance violations, the question of how to hold coaches accountable for their actions once again comes to the fore.  This was the second time around for head coach John Calipari, whose other appearance in the Final Four with the University of Massachusetts was also vacated because of his tendency to ignore the rules of the NCAA.  Sadly, in both cases, Calipari was able to skip town for a big payday while the schools and players were left to deal with the consequences.

Back at UMass in 1996, after a meteoric rise to national prominence guided by Calipari, Minuteman star Marcus Camby was found to have been given $28,000, jewelry and prostitutes by boosters.  Before the NCAA’s investigation was completed, however, the coach had skipped town for the riches of the NBA.  This time, in Memphis, it was falsified SAT scores that brought the program down, as it was found that someone other than Derrick Rose had sat for Rose’s test.  There was also a small matter of unpaid travel expenses on the team’s charter plane for Rose’s brother.  But, once again, Calipari was gone before the sheriff could lock him up; this time to Kentucky.

It seems like an easy fix for the governing body of collegiate athletics but, all too often, easy is a synonym for impossible in the world of college sports. How difficult is it to impose the same penalty on the offending coach as the one handed down to the school?  Can’t see Kentucky throwing $40 million at Calipari knowing it won’t be making a tournament appearance for two years.  Nor would Memphis have hired him eight years ago if the UMass probation had still been hanging around his neck. Remove that golden parachute and watch how fast compliance becomes the focus of the program.

And what of the players that committed to the coach? While the NCAA professes to operate in the best interests of the student-athlete, it turns its back on the shenanigans of coaches whose actions have such a negative impact on the very athletes for which they are responsible.  In Memphis’ case, the players who were lied to by Calipari must now continue on with a new coach and no chance to participate in the post season or transfer and sit out a year.  Why not allow players to change schools and play immediately when they’ve been victimized by a coach’s misdeeds?

A decade ago, George O’Leary was hired as the head football coach at Notre Dame, only to be released a few days later when discrepancies were found on his resume.  I’m wondering if Calipari will suffer the same fate at Kentucky.  After all, he’s been hired as a coach that’s taken two teams to the Final Four while a quick look at the NCAA record books now indicates no such thing.

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