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Sunday, July 6, 2008

No Such Thing As Squeaky Clean

The Wisconsin men's basketball program prides itself on running a clean operation. Badger fans can usually rest assured that Bo Ryan will not stoop to unsavory levels to sign certain types of superstar athletes.

But even the best slip up at times, especially when the NCAA guidelines that universities must follow are occasionally outlandish and convoluted. That is why I found Andy Baggot's report on compliance in the UW Athletic Department interesting. While Wisconsin has avoided a major infraction since the infamous Shoebox scandal, the university has committed 35 secondary violations over the last 11 months.

Both the men's basketball and football teams at Wisconsin self-reported five secondary violations in that time. As you might expect, high-profile revenue-generating sports like football and basketball traditionally are more prone to transgressions across the country because of the cutthroat recruiting battlegrounds the coaches deal with.

As the print version of the Wisconsin State Journal column detailed, four of the five violations pertaining to the men's basketball team relate to recruiting in some way. Here are the five incidents, which serve to show how difficult it is to remain completely error-free in this realm:

*Dec. '07 - Impermissible contact with prospective student-athlete [NCAA]
*Jan. '08 - Impermissible discount to student-athlete [NCAA 16.11.2]
*Jan. '08 - Impermissible benefit to prospective student-athlete [NCAA 13.2.1]
*Jan. '08 - Impermissible per diem [NCAA]
*Jan. '08 - Impermissible comments about a prospect by a student-athlete [NCAA]
The discounted merchandise incident was one of three violations singled out and acknowledged by the university. The impermissible contact with a recruit during an NCAA quiet period was identified as inadvertent.

Speaking of restricted "dead periods" there are two coming up this summer that coaches will have to abide by on the recruiting trail, including all of August. The on-and-off design of the summer evaluation schedule seems a little silly, but unfortunately, it's necessary. Unlike Wisconsin, many other programs would set up shop in a recruit's backyard if they could.

Coaching staffs are also prevented from seeing even their current players through much of the summer. This is when UW's strength and conditioning coach Scott Hettenbach earns his keep--part babysitter, part drill sergeant, part liaison. Now that Stiemsma has moved on, my guess is that Krabbenhoft holds down the stereo in the weight room. From what I've heard in the past, he prefers rap to hard rock or country.

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