Now we know why those college basketball coaches get paid so much money. They have to deal with the seedy underworld of basketball in recruiting.
Much like an investigator on NCIS, they’ve got to stay one step ahead of the circle of opportunists that surround the young stars of amateur basketball.
This week, it was announced that KU’s Ben McLemore might have a few shady things in his background. No, not McLemore himself, and not Kansas basketball, but the agents involved, the so-called “agent runners” and sometimes the AAU coaches themselves. One of these “runners” wormed his way into the life of McLemore’s AAU coach, Darius Cobb, money was paid and favors extended, all in an attempt to make sure McLemore signed with the right agent when he went professional.
Kansas’ Bill Self, Kentucky’s John Calipari and Louisville’s Rick Pitino are among the elite in college basketball coaches. So are their salaries. Self recently signed an extension that could pay him as much as $50 million over 10 years. Pitino and Calipari swim in similar waters.
Your first reaction is probably, “Hey, for $50 million smackers I will take on all of the seedy characters in basketball you want!” The problem is, if you make one mistake, one piece of bad judgment, that 10-year contract goes down the drain faster than a missed free throw at the end of a tight ball game!
In times gone by (my times), college basketball coaches had only a players’ high school coach and the parents to deal with.
Today, in most of the upper-level world of basketball recruiting, the high school coach is an outsider. The top dog is the coach who works with these kids year-round, the AAU coach. They operate outside of the boundaries of state high school associations and regulations. They operate outside of the rules of the NCAA. College coaches, as they recruit, have to operate like a soldier in Afghanistan. It is a mine field out there and one misstep could cost you your job.
The McLemore situation doesn’t shine a bad light on Bill Self or Kansas basketball and I agree with others that say the NCAA should stay out of this one. However, it does shine a bad light on AAU basketball, the coaches and the agents and that light shows us what a seedy mess it is.
Garden City Community College has announced it plans to spend $2.2 million to improve its athletic facilities which will allow it to re-establish its track program, which was discontinued in 2007.
What does this mean for Barton Community College? For years BCC has had an outstanding track program both for men and women. League, Regional and National championship trophies sit in the trophy case on the campus.
What does this new competition from GCCC mean for the Cougars? Even more success! The return of a track program at GCCC certainly enhances the stature of the Jayhawk Conference and by providing more competition for BCCC, the Broncbusters bring more attention to all community colleges in the conference and, in particular, western Kansas.
Great call, Garden City!
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned.