Montlake Madness staff writer Craig Yamada shares his thoughts on the ongoing Terrence Jones debacle with UW’s outgoing president.
by Craig Yamada – Staff Writer
Dear President Emmert,
Just a week ago, you accepted the position of President of the NCAA. I was saddened to hear about you leaving UW, knowing well what you have done for this university. The progress you have made in aiding the rebuilding our football program was nothing short of amazing. But after all the drama ensued last Friday, I must say Dawg Nation may be coming around to feeling grateful about having a familiar face taking charge of the NCAA.
So with that, you have your first assignment:
As you know, UW’s highest touted recruit of the 2010 class verbally committed to be a Husky during Friday’s media conference. Less than an hour later, a quick phone call from John Calapari changed all of that. Long story short, we smell foul play.
To illustrate, let me attempt to reenact this using pop culture references:
If Friday’s press conference at Jefferson HS had been the MTV VMA Awards, John Calipari would have somewhat supplanted Kanye West as the role of “spoiler” for a big moment in the life of Terrence Jones (Taylor Swift).
Terrence Jones: “The school I am pretty much going to be playing for is….”
Terrence picks up the black UW hat. Pandemonium ensues.
Terrence Jones: “….the University of Washington. The reason being that I have wanted to play with Terrence Ross since the 8th grade. UW has a lot of returning players without the off-court issues and Coach Romar is like a father figure to me.”
Linda Jones gives her son a hug and Terrence Jones joins his high school teammates for high fives and smiles.
*COACH STRICKLAND’S PHONE RINGS as Terrence is on KJR giving an interview
Coach Strickland: “Terrence… its Coach Cal for you.”
Terrence Jones: (in mid interview) “Ok hold up…”
Terrence answers the phone.
Terrence Jones: “Hi Coach.”
Calapari: “Congratulations Terrence, I’m really happy for you. I’m gonna let you finish enjoying your commitment to UW…. But I have to say something first… KENTUCKY HAS THE BEST PROGRAM OF ALL TIME!!! THE BEST PROGRAM OF ALL TIME!!!!”
Terrence sinks his head into his chest… gathers his family around him… and now questions his decision.
Well ok, that wasn’t the most accurate portrayal, but you get the gist.
As the new president, you are now subject to deciding whether issues like this are appropriate in college basketball. There definitely should be future NCAA legislation that can prevent situations like this from occurring. Here are a few of my ideas:
Questions and Possible Solutions:
Question: How can coaches responsible for NCAA violations escape sanctions by vacating a school, while the school ultimately bares the brunt of the punishment?
USC and Memphis were forced to forfeit earnings, postseason participation and future scholarships as result of their violations. All the while, Tim Floyd and John Calipari were able to leave their situations under investigation and find new NCAA coaching positions, unscathed.
Solution: Break a rule. You pay the price. If found responsible, the involved coach should absorb some form of probation regardless if he/she stays with that same institution or seeks employment at another NCAA institution.
Question: With so many nickel-and-dime rules on recruiting that exist, how is the recruiting of kids who have verbally committed to a school not prohibited? The rules around ‘verbal commitments’ carry a high level of ambiguity with them and need to be defined in more granular detail.
Take, for example, our current situation with Terrence Jones. He made a verbal commitment in front of 100 friends and family members, in addition to the 25K+ streaming viewers watching that day. Just 1 hour later, Coach Calipari is able to make contact to dissuade Terrence Jones from fully committing to the UW. As a result, TJ is “weighing his options.”
Solution: Further recruiting on a “verbal commit” from outside institutions should be deemed a recruiting violation. A verbal commitment needs to carry more weight than just a player’s word. It needs to be regarded as a contract. And as a contract, a player should have to publicly “decommit” before any contact of a recruit is made.
Question: Will there be future prohibition of the enlisting of paid agents and professional athletes used in the recruiting of basketball prospects?
For example, Calipari has capitalized on his professional network of relationships with sports agents (World Wide Wes), professional athletes (LeBron James/John Wall), and the promise of his pipeline to the NBA to lure kids into his program. Granted, he technically is not breaking any rules by leveraging these people, but perhaps a level playing field should be considered here?
Solution: Although these “boosters” may not providing any immediate financial rewards to these recruits, they quite possibly may be promising future financial incentives which should be deemed illegal. This is more unethical than anything if the objective of a NCAA athlete is to gain a scholarship and a first-class college education.
Question: Are there any plans to impose stricter GPA requirements for active student athletes?
For example, Calipari’s latest Kentucky basketball team averaged a 2.0 GPA which means several players were below that average. In turn, five of his underclassmen (four freshmen) are declaring for the NBA Draft. His team had the worst cumulative GPA amongst the SEC schools.
Solution: Currently the NCAA requires a minimum 1.8 GPA to participate in sporting events. The bar should be raised to 2.0 to ensure athletes are also students. Perhaps we could incentivize schools with either highest conference GPA or a 70-80%+ graduation rate with an additional scholarship.
I am just a diehard Husky fan that is hoping that Terrence Jones is wearing purple and gold next year. Coach Romar has demonstrated nothing but poise and class during this entire process and would be the right person to mold him into a model student athlete and human being. You’ve got to hope Jones and his parents see that.
We all are hoping he is given a fair opportunity to make a sound decision for his college future and life beyond college. Whether he lands at Kentucky or UW, we will certainly support him with his decision.
Thank you for your time President Emmert and we look forward to seeing you tackle these issues and others once you assume your new post.
Thanks for coming!