We just received the message below from a reader by the name of John, located in Chicago, Illinois. And while we can recite NCAA By-Laws for football recruiting in our sleep, we are not that well versed, yet, in the recruiting By-Laws for other sports, such as basketball. We do know that basketball is now subject to the one-and-done rules which enables players to jump to the NBA after only one year in college, but in being completely honest we are not totally up to speed on basketball recruiting rules.
Regardless, what really matters here is that someone was compelled (outraged if you will) enough to write us about Tom Crean pushing players off the Indiana roster in order to make room for new recruits.
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Here's the message from John:
The only way to stop oversigning is to shine a bright light on the practice. There is a blog that recently launched which has done a terrific job highlighting the practice in college football, where guys like Houston Nutt, Les Miles and in particular Nick Saban seem to oversign as one of their fundamental business practices. Check it out at www.oversigning.com.
College basketball's version of Nick Saban is none other than Indiana's own Tom Crean. Yesterday, Indiana University issued a press release patting themselves on the back for allowing Bawa Muniru to "go to a program where he can play and continue his education". Anyone who looks at the situation carefully knows the reality, Muniru was asked to leave Indiana's program to make room for new recruits.
This isn't the first time Crean has done this either. In fact, when Bawa originally signed with IU he would have been the 14th scholarship player (one over the limit) had Crean not run off Malik Story.
To be clear, Crean isn't doing anything against the rules here. There is a rule that allows Big Ten programs to oversign by one prospect per year. The rule was agreed to because it gave coaches a tool to help deal with early departures to the NBA. If used properly, the oversigned prospect understands that if no scholarships open up he would head to a prep school year and wait until the following season to arrive on campus. That isn't what Tom Crean is doing here. Tom Crean just excused a player who was doing everything right (except for producing on the court) to make room for prospects he thinks CAN produce on the court. It is a sleazy practice and its unethical.
As members of the press you have a duty to expose this stuff, this is a grown man making millions of dollars taking advantage of teenagers who put their trust in him. Shine some light on it!
To follow up on this message we found the following article that might be of interest:
It's unclear where Muniru will transfer. If he goes to an NCAA DivisionI program he will have to sit out one season and will have three years of eligibility left.
IU was only going to have one scholarship available for the 2011 class, and that was coming with the departure of Jeremiah Rivers following the 2010-11 season. Hamilton Heights standout Austin Etherington committed to take that spot. Muniru's departure allows the Hoosiers to bring in at least two more players -- Muniru's slot plus the ability for Big Ten schools to oversign by one player per season.
If this is true, shame on Crean for running a player off in order to make room for a new recruit. Someone needs to get Tracy Smith on the horn and have him call Crean. We're willing to give Crean just a little bit of latitude (very little) because basketball is a slightly different animal than college football, but regardless, these coaches are paid millions of dollars and they should be capable of managing a roster without having to push kids out and oversign.
Indiana basketball sounds like it is in the same boat as LSU football with regards to having a very, very small number of open slots for the next recruiting class. This is just another great example as to why the NCAA needs to act on oversigning and do something to protect the kids that are being pushed out simply because someone else is coming in that is projected to be better.
As far as we know, academic scholarship recipients are not bumped off of their scholarships simply because the school wants to bring someone else in with a better GPA or a better SAT score. Academic scholarship recipients are given baseline performance metrics by which they are required to perform and if they do they stay on scholarship, and furthermore, the people making the decisions as to whether or not someone stays on academic scholarship HAS NO VESTED INTEREST in whether or not that person remains on scholarship. The problem with athletic scholarships is that they do not have clearly defined baseline metrics for the players to adhere to in order to keep their scholarship - everything is at the discretion of the coach, who has A HUGE VESTED INTEREST in who gets a scholarship and who doesn't, and many times coaches make decisions based on recruiting and who they think they can get to come in or who they have lined up to come in already.
Thanks for the note John, we're trying to do our part to put an end to oversigning.