Every day that we get deeper into the first of three trials stemming from the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball, more secrets and salacious details in the world of recruiting at the high major level come out.
None of this is much of a surprise for the people that have been paying attention. Hearing stories of offers that were made to a five-star prospect that include six-figure payouts, no-show jobs for parents and money for housing near campus is more or less what we’ve come to expect at this level.
The details are interesting to see when plastered across headlines, but you don’t need to be all that cynical to have assumed that this is how the sausage has always been made.
Which brings me to Roy Williams, the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels who claims to be blindsided by the way recruiting in the modern age works.
“I’m just dumbfounded,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I had somebody criticize me and say ‘you shouldn’t be dumbfounded.’ Well, excuse me, I have my right to have my own feelings. That world that they’re explaining out there I’m not familiar with. Period. In 30 years as a head coach I have never had anyone ask me for money. I have never asked any shoe company to recruit for me. I have never asked anyone other than the family what is most important to you.”
“That world,” he added, “people act like it goes on all the time, it does not go on all the time. It is a world I’m not familiar with.”
I believe Williams when he says he has never asked a shoe company rep for money, or when he says he’s never had someone he was recruiting ask him for money. He’s been a head coach for 30 years, and there isn’t a head coach worth his salary that would get near that conversation. Plausible deniability. You hire people to do that for you.
But I do find it a little disingenuous when Williams says he’s not familiar with this world. He is the head coach at North Carolina, a program that is as closely tied to the Jordan and Nike brands as any. If there is a program that Nike wants to win, the Tar Heels are right there at the top. He’s recruited at the highest level since he took over for Larry Brown at Kansas.
And he is blindsided by all of this?
It’s one thing to publicly state he’s never been involved in this world.
But to say he’s dumbfounded it exists?
If you say so, Coach.