Did Luke Walton commit a recruiting violation already?
Only a month and change after taking the third assistant coach position with the Memphis Tigers, Walton may have already gotten his program a slap on the wrist. In an LA Times article published on Monday, Walton was quoted on the record talking about recruit Alex Poythress:
The Lakers forward has jumped into his temporary job as an assistant coach with the University of Memphis, making his first home visit recently to help the Tigers recruit Alex Poythress, a Kevin Durant clone who lives near Memphis and is also considering Duke, Florida, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
“I told him my story,” Walton said, sharing with the recruit how he went from a solid college player at Arizona to an eight-year career with the Lakers.
Walton would also go on to say to the Times that college coaching is “frustrating because in the NBA it’s all about basketball. You get to college, and there are so many rules and restrictions.”
One of those rules and restrictions happens to be that coaches are not allowed to speak about recruits that haven’t signed with their school. As rule 13.10.2 states:
Before the signing of a prospective student-athlete to a National Letter of Intent or an institution’s written offer of admission and/or financial aid, a member institution may comment publicly only to the extent of confirming its recruitment of the prospective student-athlete. The institution may not comment generally about the prospective student-athlete’s ability or the contribution that the prospective student-athlete might make to the institution’s team; further, the institution is precluded from commenting in any manner as to the likelihood of the prospective student-athlete’s signing with that institution.
Technically, what Walton did is not a violation. He confirmed to the reporter that he is, in fact, recruiting Poythress without commenting on his ability or his potential as a Memphis Tiger. All Walton did was explain what his recruiting pitch to the high schooler was. That’s allowed.
But as Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal points out, this is dangerous territory for the Tigers. Walton freely admitted in the article that he does not like how many rules there are in recruiting. And Walton, who is still under contract in the NBA, is not a guy that is going to be coaching for the rest of his career, at least not yet. As soon as the lockout is over, he’s gone. This coaching position with Memphis? Its not a job for him. Its a hobby. Its a way for him to kill time while the Player’s Union and the owners argue about who should be making more money.
Pastner needs to keep sharp watch over Walton. Not because the Laker forward is dumb or because he has any malicious intentions, but because one slip-up — one rule oversight, one text message sent at the wrong time, one conversation he’s not supposed to have with a recruit, one ill-advised quote to a reporter — could end up in NCAA sanctions.
And if Pastner’s smart, he’ll be honest about any violations if the NCAA does come a-knockin’.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.