Send A Coach To Catch A Coach

On September 28, 2012, in Sporting News, by Buddy TB

Send a Coach to Catch a CoachFrank Smith and Ken Huber are both ex college basketball coaches now working as NCAA Investigators. They both spent years as college assistants — Smith at places like Dayton and Clemson; Huber at places like Gardner-Webb and Wright State — before jumping to the so-called other side. They’re the only two men on what used to be known as the NCAA’s Basketball Focus Group. They’re now essentially charged with using their previous career experiences to catch cheating college basketball programs and, in some cases, folks whom Smith and Huber used to call colleagues and still call friends.  “This job is a difficult task and an uphill battle,” Huber said. “When I was a coach, I don’t think I realized how difficult of a job it is. … I don’t want to say all coaches cheat or try to break the rules, but I do think most coaches try to go as far as they can into the gray area without crossing over a line. They are trying to find ways, and I think the common fan would be surprised at some of the ways coaches are trying to get around rules.”

Some of those coaches happen to be friends. Here are a few of the current issues that will probably keep these guys and their fellow investigators occupied well into the future.

The NCAA is investigating the Miami Hurricanes football program for possible involvement with Nevin Shapiro. Head coach Al Golden says his players may have made mistakes but they need to move forward. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is being held responsible for multiple violations, including academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, ineligible participation and a failure to monitor its football program.

USC athletic director Pat Haden says USC will investigate a Los Angeles Times report claiming two Trojans athletes received gifts from an employee of the L A County assessor’s office.

Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie resigned Thursday, citing “health reasons.” His resignation comes less than a month after the school announced it was looking into player mistreatment.

It is common knowledge that NCAA College Coaches at every level and in every sport are constantly working angles, searching for loopholes and trying to create a competitive advantage by either bending or straight-up breaking the rules. Why? Because most of them believe their competitors are doing it and that they must also, to some degree, just to keep up. That’s a common rationalization. Even the so-called clean guys at the high-major level are sometimes put in a position where they must, at the very least, turn their heads, cover their ears and cling to plausible deniability. Now it is partly the job of Smith and Huber to make the rule-breakers worry more than they might have in years past.

Does it take a coach to catch a coach? That’s open to debate on some level to be sure.

But it’s an approach the NCAA has decided to at least try.

 

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