Coaches

Report: AAU to implement mandatory screening for coaches, volunteers, staff

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As a way to develop accountability and protect the safety of participants, the Amateur Athletic Union is expected to announce newly crafted mandatory screening procedures for all adult coaches, volunteers, and staff, the Associated Press is reporting.

The AAU had been conducting a six-month investigation into the matter, which produced a 30-page report with proposed changes to the system of checks and balances, in reference to screening of coaches and staff.

The Associated Press reports that a press conference is to be held Tuesday to publicly reveal the findings of the report and the recommendations made within it.

“The AAU is acting decisively because its first priority is not to protect the AAU brand, but to protect the thousands of youth athletes in our events,” AAU president Louis Stout is quoted as saying.

Revisions to current policy would make random screenings of personnel into mandatory reviews.

The initial investigation was launched, following decades-old allegations surfaced in December against former AAU president Bobby Dodd. The organization has severed ties with Dodd and has not faced allegations from other accusers.

With 124 years of history, the AAU is the longest-standing organization for youth athletics in the country, featuring 30 sports programs, ranging from basketball and football to bocce ball and competitive jump rope.

Over time, AAU basketball has played a more integral part in college recruiting, and, today, has arguably overtaken high school basketball as the No. 1 determinant of college exposure and evaluation.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

No dry eyes at the Skip Prosser Classic

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Xavier plays host to Wake Forest in the Skip Prosser Classic on Dec. 18, but the real show will be when Xavier inducts Prosser into its Hall of Fame. Call it a classy move for a classy guy.

The former Musketeers and Demon Deacons coach died unexpectedly in 2007 at age 56.

“It’s hard because it’s hard to believe he’s gone, still, to this day. But I think it’s a great tribute,” XU coach Chris Mack told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He’s about as deserving as anybody that’s been in our Hall of Fame. To do it when both programs that meant a whole lot to him are in town to play a game, I think is completely fitting. It’s going to be a special night.”

It’s almost enough to make one wonder why Xavier also would induct former hoops star David West and tennis standout Lauren Clary. That’s a night when everyone’s going to be talking about Prosser.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

UConn's lengthy self-review missed two things

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Connecticut filed a 562-page response to NCAA allegations of major rules violations by Jim Calhoun’s program in an effort to show how thoroughly the school investigated itself. It conducted 60 interviews and made 350,000 phone calls and text messages during its four-year probe.

But, according to the Hartford Courant, at least two items could prove problematic when UConn officials meet with the NCAA infractions committee on Friday:

  • Neither Nate Miles (the recruit at the center of the violations) nor Josh Nochimson (the student manager-turned agent whose relationship with Miles was a no-no) cooperated with the school’s investigation.
  • UConn’s compliance department was woefully understaffed.

From the paper:

During the time of Miles’ recruitment, the athletic department had only one person working in its NCAA compliance department, and that person was overseeing more than 20 athletic programs.

In his 40-page response to charges that he lied to investigators about illegal phone calls to Miles, [former director of basketball operations Beau] Archibald argues not only that the 113 calls and 181 texts permissible, but that they were authorized by a compliance unit that was so short-staffed it asked for his help in gathering Miles’ academic records.

Archibald resigned last May just days before the NCAA accused him of failing to conduct himself “in accordance with the honesty and integrity associated with the administration [by] providing false and misleading information to the NCAA enforcement staff and institution.”

The school says Archibald did not knowingly provide false or misleading information.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

Dixon plans to be at Pitt 'the rest of my life'

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It’s a rite of spring – coach gets fired, Jamie Dixon’s name is floated as a candidate.

Last spring, the Pittsburgh coach turned down Oregon. He also has passed on gigs at Arizona, Arizona State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and USC. That’s what happens when you win 27 games a season and never miss the NCAA tournament.

Jim Mcisaac/Getty

Next spring may be different. Dixon, 44, sounds like a guy who’s in it for the long haul at Pitt. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“If you operate with the intention that you’re going to move in a couple of years, then you’re not doing things the same way, with basketball or outside of basketball. I guess what I’m saying is the people I work with every day I plan on working with them the rest of my life. I think you have to operate under that kind of belief. That makes you do things the right way. That’s a big part of life and the decisions you make.”

It’s a nice quote. I’m sure Dixon, an earnest, straightforward coach by all accounts, means every bit of it. The calls will still come every spring.

There aren’t many better jobs out there — the Panthers have great facilities, rabid fans, play in a fantastic basketball conference and Dixon makes $1.6 million a season – yet as long as new jobs open up and athletic directors have cash to offer, Dixon will get calls. He’s too good not to.

If Tom Izzo has to occasionally deal with job rumors (and sometimes offers!), there’s no reason to think people won’t come after Dixon simply because he says he’s happy.

Things can change. Dixon, a California native, may eventually want to return to the West Coast. If Pitt AD Steve Pederson departs, Dixon may not like the replacement. Or Dixon could eventually just want a new challenge.

Until then, Dixon’s Panthers will keep winning. And the calls will keep coming.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

Are UConn's woes just motivation for Calhoun?

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Connecticut’s admission of major NCAA violations committed by its men’s basketball program produced reactions one might expect:

Tony Ding/AP

Tough to argue with any of those. When a program admits it made impermissible telephone calls, text messages and provided improper benefits to high school coaches and others, it shouldn’t expect any friendly treatment.

Ever since Yahoo! Sports broke a 2008 story regarding the recruitment of Nate Miles, things haven’t looked promising for the Huskies. Jim Calhoun, in his usual, brusque manner, was openly defiant at the report and seemed to be put off by the whole thing. Now, it’s developed into a permanent stain on his Hall of Fame career.

And there may be more hits to come, particularly if the NCAA upholds that Calhoun didn’t promote an atmosphere for compliance.

UConn will have a hearing Friday before the NCAA infractions committee, which could impose additional penalties to the school’s self-imposed sanctions of two years’ probation, a reduction on the number of coaches who contact recruits and the loss of one scholarship for the next two seasons. It’s never easy to predict how the NCAA will react, but more penalties seem likely.

As Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant points out, those are hardly stiff penalties.

UConn only has 12 scholarships some years anyway. George Blaney rarely travels to recruit. And probation is little more than an order to keep your nose clean.

We should all be punished so severely.

Indiana received harsher penalties for violations under then-coach Kelvin Sampson, and those violations didn’t involve improper benefits. UConn exhibited similar sloppiness when it came to violations regarding phone calls and texts. Using the Hoosiers as a barometer, UConn could face additional recruiting penalties and another year of probation.

So where’s this leave Calhoun?

The coach, 68, signed a five-year, $13 million contract extension last April. If more penalties come down – or if the NCAA upholds the compliance ruling – Calhoun may have to consider retiring or taking another position in UConn’s athletic department (his contract stipulates he’ll have a position if he doesn’t coach for the full extension). 

But I can’t see that happening. Calhoun’s never backed down from a fight. Why would he back down from this one?

If his drive was his program’s undoing, then it’ll serve him well when UConn tries to recover from this episode. He’s a proud, accomplished coach who’s won two national titles, is already in the Hall of Fame and built the Huskies into one of the nation’s premier hoops powers. The last thing he wants is to end his career like this.

Given the chance, I’d expect Calhoun to spend every bit of his remaining extension working to restore some of the luster to UConn – and his reputation.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

Pearl's back-up plan? Pumping gas

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Good to know Bruce Pearl’s planning ahead.

The Tennessee coach’s NCAA recruiting violations have cast some doubts about his future with the Vols, so he’s doing his best to broaden his prospects. Like pumping gas.

“In coaching, you always need to have a profession you need to fall back on if you don’t win enough games, so I’m just here practicing,” Pearl joked in a promotional video for an event to raise money for the United Way of Greater Knoxville. Pearl was a “celebrity pumper.”

Forward thinking and a sense of humor? Only Pearl.

(H/T: Diamond Leung)

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.