2011-12 was a rough season for the Idaho State Bengals to say the least, as head coach Joe O’Brien stepped down following a 2-8 start.
Interim head coach Deane Martin took over for a team that ultimately finished the year 9-20 and fell to Eastern Washington in the Big Sky quarterfinals.
ISU hired Bill Evans to take over in early March, and while the rebuilding task itself could be a daunting one there’s now also the specter of an NCAA probe that hangs over the program.
According to the Idaho State Journal, Martin wrote in a letter to athletic director Jeff Tingey that there was a booster willing to pay recruits to join the ISU basketball program.
Martin’s letter, dated March 6, alleges that a booster told him “in the presence of another witness, that he wanted to insure that ISU got the best recruit we could, and he offered his support. Specifically (the booster) indicated that if it took a ‘money handshake’ from him to a coach or a recruit, to seal the deal, he was happy to do that.”
Martin’s letter goes on to say that the booster “has personally involved himself with the families of potential recruits, and made similar offers to them. He also has made those offers to junior college coaches, that it would be in their best financial interest to steer their players to Idaho State University.”
Safe to say that this isn’t the best news for Idaho State, as the NCAA is currently looking at multiple sports within the program.
The Idaho State Journal also mentioned that the booster is identified in the letter, but they’re withholding his name until the result of the NCAA investigation is known.
If Martin sent this letter to Tingey from a “make sure I cover myself” standpoint then you can’t blame him. But there will be some who see the date of the letter (March 6) and the date of Evans’ hiring (March) and allege “sour grapes.”
As for Evans, he has to figure how to improve a team that finished 8th in the Big Sky in scoring offense and 9th in both scoring defense and rebounding margin last season.
Unfortunately for him this development off the court won’t help matters one big.
Photo credit: Idaho Spokesman-Review (AD Jeff Tingey)
h/t John Infante
Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.