If you haven’t heard about it yet, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo was suspended for today’s game against Prairie View A&M for a recruiting violation.
Shocking, right? Usually when Tom Izzo’s name is brought up in the context of recruiting, its about how he’s one of the few that does things the right way.
So what did Izzo do? Michigan State ran a basketball camp for middle schoolers over the summer. Each camp counseler was paid $475 for five days of work. In other words, not all that much. One of the guys that Izzo paid, however, is somehow associated with a recruit — and Individual Associated With a Prospect, or IAWP — and thanks to a new NCAA rule, its now a violation to employ an IAWP at a summer camp.
The NCAA viewed the violation as secondary and unintentional, but Izzo was required to sit out one game of his choosing.
This shouldn’t put a blemish on Tom Izzo’s sterling reputation. In fact, more than anything, it should be a sign. Eamonn Brennan explains:
If anything, the news reveals what most recruiting observers — and college hoops fans in general — already realize: IAPs are everywhere. They’ve been attending camps and making money, oftentimes in name only and oftentimes in exchange for access to a recruit, for years. This isn’t an isolated thing, nor is it reserved to programs or coaches casual fans might associate with, ahem, less stringent recruiting tactics. It was a universal racket, and old rackets die hard.
The new rule regulating this sort of thing is going to require intense oversight from college hoops programs. It’s going to be a challenge to figure out just who is who is not an IAP, and that challenge rests in the hands of the already overtaxed compliance staffs at places like Michigan State. As a result, you get situations like this, wherein even a coach with a sterling compliance record ends up missing a game — likely an easy win, but still — because the wrong person coached some middle-schoolers at camp this summer.
Tom Izzo made a mistake, but that mistake was nothing more than not doing his due diligence on who Michigan State was employing.
Hopefully he, and every coach around the country, learned a lesson.