In an unprecedented move by the NCAA, three AAU programs have been banned from taking part in NCAA certified events this month and a fourth sanctioned due to an alleged association with a sports agent.
The Florida Rams, New England Playaz, Worldwide Renegades and SEBL Elite All-Stars have been told that coaches who have been found to associate with ASM Sports agency (run by Andy Miller) are prohibited from having any contact with the program or its players.
In the case of the Rams, Playaz and Renegades that means a revamping of their coaching staffs, and they won’t be allowed to play under the same name (or organization) either this month.
NCAA bylaw 13.18-(h) states that no non-scholastic program that is associated with sports agents is allowed to participate in an NCAA sanctioned event.
According to the NCAA it obtained emails in which Miller implored the four individuals, TJ Gassola (NE Playaz 17U and 16U), Matt Ranker (Florida Rams 17U and 16U), Desmond Eastmond (Worldwide Renegades 17U, 16U and 15U) and Tony Edwards (SEBL Elite 17U and 15U) to recruit top draft picks to the ASM Sports agency.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is a no-no.
With July having three five-day open evaluation periods (coaches can watch prospective student-athletes play) this ruling may be seen as a big deal.
But a closer look at the NCAA’s ruling reveals that this should not have much of a negative impact on the players currently with these four programs.
“Please note that the eligibility of the prospects to participate in an NCAA certified event has not been impacted. Those prospects currently registered on the involved teams’ rosters are still permitted to compete in a certified event provided that they do not compete on behalf of the above-named teams.”
Could this open up a “free agency” period of sorts, especially with players such as 2013 phenoms Brannen Greene (Kansas commit), Kasey Hill (Florida commit) and Chris Walker (all three are Florida Rams) and 2015 big man Jarred Reuter (New England Playaz) being among the affected?
That’s certainly possible but the NCAA also left open the door for these teams to play together (under a different name), provided that they’re able to prove that the coaches found to be associated with ASM Sports are no longer a part of the program.
The rules established for players in the programs associated with Gassnola, Ranker and Eastmond are as follows:
1. The new team cannot operate under the same team name previously used by one of the impacted teams.
2. The new team cannot use uniforms, gear or equipment that were the property of or used by one of the impacted teams.
3. The new team could not be coached by an individual previously identified as a coach or administrator with one of the impacted teams or the involved nonscholastic organization.
4. Gassnola, Eastmond and/or Ramker cannot be involved with the team in any capacity, including but not limited to:
a. Traveling with the new team or staying in the same lodging facility as the new team.
b. Involvement after July 5, 2012, in providing or arranging transportation, meals or lodging for the new team.
c. Communication with or interaction with anyone associated with the new team during a certified event. “During a certified event” is defined as from the time the team departs home base for travel to the event through the team’s return home from the event.
As for Tony Edwards (SEBL Elite 17U and 15U) these are the things that must happen in order for the affected SEBL players to compete together:
1. Traveling with the teams or staying in the same lodging facility as the teams.
2. Communication with or interaction with anyone associated with the team during a certified event. “During a certified event” is defined as from the time the team departs home base for travel to the event through the team’s return home from the event.
Essentially some parents (or others) will need to step up as no one associated with these programs (with the exception of SEBL, who simply has to eliminate Edwards from the picture) will be allowed to coach the “new” teams should they decide to go this route.
So who ultimately pays the price here?
While the highly-touted players will remain on the radar of most coaches, July is that last chance for a few months for players who aren’t in that category to go out and earn a scholarship.
Those who already hold multiple offers simply have to worry about who they’ll play with.
But for the kids and their families who are still in search of those looks this is an inconvenience they don’t need.
And judging by the NCAA’s statement it’s an inconvenience they played no role in either, so it’s good to see that they’re not punishing those who had no role in the alleged wrongdoing.