Possible booster involvement sparks NCAA probe of Idaho State

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2011-12 was a rough season for the Idaho State Bengals to say the least, as head coach Joe O’Brien stepped down following a 2-8 start.

Interim head coach Deane Martin took over for a team that ultimately finished the year 9-20 and fell to Eastern Washington in the Big Sky quarterfinals.

ISU hired Bill Evans to take over in early March, and while the rebuilding task itself could be a daunting one there’s now also the specter of an NCAA probe that hangs over the program.

According to the Idaho State Journal, Martin wrote in a letter to athletic director Jeff Tingey that there was a booster willing to pay recruits to join the ISU basketball program.

Martin’s letter, dated March 6, alleges that a booster told him “in the presence of another witness, that he wanted to insure that ‍ISU got the best recruit we could, and he offered his support. Specifically (the booster) indicated that if it took a ‘money handshake’ from him to a coach or a recruit, to seal the deal, he was happy to do that.”

Martin’s letter goes on to say that the booster “has personally involved himself with the families of potential recruits, and made similar offers to them. He also has made those offers to junior college coaches, that it would be in their best financial interest to steer their players to Idaho State University.”

Safe to say that this isn’t the best news for Idaho State, as the NCAA is currently looking at multiple sports within the program.

The Idaho State Journal also mentioned that the booster is identified in the letter, but they’re withholding his name until the result of the NCAA investigation is known.

If Martin sent this letter to Tingey from a “make sure I cover myself” standpoint then you can’t blame him. But there will be some who see the date of the letter (March 6) and the date of Evans’ hiring (March) and allege “sour grapes.”

As for Evans, he has to figure how to improve a team that finished 8th in the Big Sky in scoring offense and 9th in both scoring defense and rebounding margin last season.

Unfortunately for him this development off the court won’t help matters one big.

Photo credit: Idaho Spokesman-Review (AD Jeff Tingey)

h/t John Infante

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Sun Belt approves new scheduling format

Sun Belt Conference
Sun Belt Conference
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With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.

And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.

Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.

Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.

h/t ShockerHoops.net