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Posted on Sun, Aug 16, 2009 : 10:10 a.m.

A more detailed look at what college basketball coaches would like to see

By Michael Rothstein

Following with today's story on the new NCAA ethics committee that Michigan coach John Beilein chairs, here's some more detailed thoughts on what college basketball coaches from around the country want to see from the committee.


Mike Bray.jpeg
"John and I are on the same page as some of the issues in our sport and we’ve talked at length about them many times. The biggest thing this committee can do, and it is the strongest thing they can do, is the mentoring of young coaches to do the right thing and do the right thing when nobody’s looking. That’s the strongest element of John and LuAnn (Humphrey)'s committee that they put together. I think I’ve done that a bunch in my profession without being on a committee. You’re trying to help young guys make the right decisions in this profession so they can be in it a long time. But I think that’s the strongest element of it.

"The other stuff going on in our sport right now, I don’t know if anything can change unless there are drastic changes. And I don’t know if we have enough ammunition yet. As a board member of the NABC, John’s committee, all of those things, to do it. But the committee John’s on, the mentoring of young guys working their way up in our profession, that they can reach out and that is huge and the strongest part of that committee right now."


"For people in our league, we’re constantly trying to keep the playing field, at least I am, to keep the playing field as level as possible. I know it’ll never be to the point where it is completely level but I just, a rule’s a rule and they are expected to be followed. Even some of the best have probably broken a rule or two because there’s just so many. The biggest issue is follow the rules when you know it is the rule.

"Reggie Minton just say ‘Don’t willfully break the rule.’ That’s my main focus, you can’t willfully break a rule. There’s probably more time spent trying to circumvent rules than time spending within the program for some of these coaches.

"I think it’s part of the business, part of the game. I really do.


"I think there’s a whole lot of things. The way I’d describe it to you is that if you’re near a window, go outside and look at a cloud. The cloud is changing shapes and moving all the time. That’s what is going on in the game. Situations came up. There’s was a lot of discussion in our group about bumps, the inadvertent, yeah right, inadvertent in quotes that took place in the tournament settings and in the parking lots and the hallways and stuff like that. But if I listen to my fellow coaches, that’s not an overwhelming concern. Elite camps, that seems to be a concern, we’ve got to talk about that as a group. Agents influence in AAU basketball, that’s a concern, so we need to talk about that. The event management of all these events that take place in the summer time, that’s a concern. All of these things have moved down and the quote-unquote inadvertent bump has seemed to move down. At least that’s what I’ll voice the next time we meet as a group."


"I don’t know if there is one thing. It’s so funny. When I get out on the road and I get to work, I put my blinders on. I get my laser vision and I focus on recruiting and seeing the guy I’m supposed to see and doing what I’m supposed to do so I don’t pay as much attention. But there has to be some uniformity relative to the tournaments and we’re told we can’t interact with players, parents, what have you, and there’s certain events, you go to the events and there’s absolutely no way you can run into or have a brush of illegal contact with an illegal player or prospect or parent. Then there are other tournaments where there’s virtually no way, you basically have to run through a crowd of people and act like you’re the most rude person in the world so you don’t violate any of the rules. I’d have to say more uniformity relative to the way that these tournaments are, the way the seating arrangements are.

"If I can do something to even remotely avoid violating, I’d rather do that than have it be such a gray area from tournament to tournament to tournament. It really puts coaches in a bad spot."


"To really establish some uniformity among the coaches so that we all understand the rules and the spirit of the NCAA rules and how we should be conducting ourselves when it comes around to the decisions we have to make in recruiting. As you find out, there’s different missions all over the United States as to what different universities do and what their mission is. So this is, we have to be understanding of that. The guys on our committee come from Michigan, come from Vanderbilt, come from Butler, Boston College. So there’s all different levels and types of private schools, public schools. It’s all very interesting that we have different challenges.

"We’ve met twice and that is really the biggest challenge right now, is to get a clear agenda of what are important issues. But you will be focusing on one issue and something real and very important can come up that nobody ever thought of before. I don’t think there’s a science to this thing. We just have to chop away at being persistent in trying to identify the biggest problems. You know, there’s a lot of minutia in NCAA rules that really are troubling sometimes because they don’t attack some of the bigger problems that we have. So we’re trying to sort through all that. We haven’t made up the ground, we’ve only had two meetings, but I think in the next few years, we’ll be able to make some pretty good inroads."


"After going through this period, July becomes a very critical month because we don’t have the spring evaluation period anymore. This being the first time us going through it, people are finding out it puts a premium on the month of July. A lot of people want the spring back and their complaint is that football coaches get 5-6 weeks off in the summer. Well, guess what, that doesn’t happen in college basketball. College football, it’s crazy. We have the longest season of any collegiate sport other than I think hockey and we go year-round. We go year-round.

"So football plays four months, if they are lucky and they get time off in the summer. One of the things you hear with the complaints in the college coaches, July shouldn’t be as pressurized. Let them work through the school year and do our evaluations and when we go out in July, we may be able to cut the period down to two weeks."


Jerry Wainwright.JPG
"I think it has an unbelievable chance if it becomes a mechanism for education. Again, there are classes in college called ethics. You probably took one. Whether it be your major or whether it be a general studies class, sometimes those are chapters in a philosophy class. I think what, for instance, let’s say, the number of phone calls, as an example, if someone makes illegal number of phone calls because this has gotten publicity in the last few years. Let’s say someone makes an illegal number of phone calls, in order to make an illegal phone call, someone has to take it. If, indeed, people are aware of the fact that this phone call is not legal and they stay on and they are part of it, aren’t they just as guilty? Right. Now, to me, the best way to deal with that is to disseminate as much information as to what’s important in ethical behavior in our profession to as many people as possible that are at that firing line. The student-athlete, the parents, the guidance counselors, the high school coaches. What will absolutely help everything is if, indeed, if I pay you to come to my school, am I guilty and you’re not? You took the money. I mean, I often think, this is what I was talking about before. Ethics is not a one-way street. It’s not. Neither is loyalty.

"Honesty is not a one way street. It’s a wonderful concept if it becomes a part of an educational process where everyone understands truly not only the rules but understands the reason for em. Now, the moral judgment is on both parties. Indeed, if I call Mike and say, hey listen, I know I called you last night, if you say, ‘Well, coach, I’m not taking your call and in fact since you are knowingly breaking the rules, I’m not going to let you recruit me.’ And you say ‘Jerry, come on.’ Well, that’s the way it’s got to get."

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or on twitter at @mikerothstein.