Cal in trouble for phone calls

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You may have missed it this weekend, but Cal went in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Friday night.

Not Coach Cal, mind you. (If it was Coach Cal, you wouldn’t just be hearing and we wouldn’t just be writing about it.) California. The Golden Bears. Here’s the statement they released:

In 2008, as a result of normal review and monitoring procedures, the Cal Athletic Department discovered violations of NCAA by-laws that govern the frequency and number of phone calls that coaches are allowed to place to prospective student-athletes. Cal quickly self-reported the findings to the Pacific-10 Conference and the NCAA, and imposed sanctions on individuals employed by the men’s basketball program. Internal and external investigations have already concluded that the violations were not intentional. Because the NCAA Committee on Infractions is currently considering the final disposition of this case, we will have no further comment until a final decision is rendered.

First of all, a kudos is in order.

We live in a day and age where news is broken and spread on twitter and writers everywhere are looking to expose the scandal that can make their career. Yet Cal committed violations, reported those violations, and face the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and the news didn’t leak out until the day after their meeting?

Seriously. Mike Montgomery and the Cal coaching staff met with the committee on Friday night, and Jeff Goodman of FOXSports penned the first article (at least the first one that I saw) on Saturday afternoon that already included a statement from the school. Whether this is a result of the Cal athletic department being able to keep such matters close or a sign of the basketball team’s relevance, or lack thereof, nationally can be debated. Regardless of the answer, however, it is odd how this thing played out.

As far as Cal goes, if what they are claiming in their statement is accurate — that the violations were unintentional — their punishment from the NCAA should be minimal, if anything. These things happen, and while the phone call rules may be fairly clear, enforcing them can get a bit tricky, as Gary Parrish explained back in September:

“Let’s say there’s a kid I’m recruiting who’s scheduled to play in an AAU event, go home for a day, then play in another AAU event,” said one coach, citing just one example of how an impermissible call might get made. “I can’t call while he’s at either event, but I can call while he’s home. So on the day that he’s scheduled to be home, I call his cell phone. But what if his team decided at the last minute to go straight from the first event to the second event without going home? Now I’ve just made an impermissible call, and it was unavoidable.”

Not all NCAA violations are equal, and seeing as we didn’t hear anything about it until after the hearing took place, I think we can assume that Cal is in the clear with the NCAA.

Their basketball team?

Well, that’s a different story. They just lost at home to Southern Miss.