Nonprofit group sues NCAA over rule barring of felons from coaching AAU teams


In recent years the NCAA has attempted to take some steps in cleaning up grassroots basketball (at least on its end).

Prohibiting college coaches from attending spring and summer events that aren’t sanctioned by the NCAA during open recruiting periods, and requiring participating teams to be registered with the NCAA in order to compete in such events are two examples of the new legislation.

Another rule that was put in place was the decision to ban convicted felons from coaching sanctioned grassroots basketball teams. But after Dominic Hardie was denied the certification needed due to a nonviolent drug conviction that occurred more than a decade ago, a nonprofit group filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Diego on Wednesday.

Hardie filed suit in hopes of being able to coach his girls basketball team in San Diego, and the suit claims that the rule violates the Civil Rights Act and “disproportionately affects minority coaches.”

Hardie is seeking a preliminary injunction to allow him to coach in an upcoming game in San Diego. His legal team, which includes the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the new policy has a chilling effect on minority coaches.

The original NCAA policy was to allow convicted felons who were seven or more years removed from their conviction to coach, but the governing body changed the rule in 2011. Those sanctioned events are the only opportunities in which players can play in front of college coaches during the spring and summer months, a timeframe that has become increasingly important in the recruiting world.

However despite the lawsuit the NCAA seems to be confident that its rule will be upheld, as noted by NCAA VP of communications Bob Williams in a statement released on Wednesday.

“Our policy has been unsuccessfully challenged in court previously. We continue to believe convicted felons should not have access to youth at events where NCAA coaches are participating, and we will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?