In general, college basketball coaches are very talented people. They know how to motivate young men, getting them to achieve more on the basketball court than they ever thought possible.
They inspire those same players to achieve greatness outside of the basketball spectrum.
Some are gifted strategists, having forgotten more about basketball than I will ever know.
However, over the last few months, we have learned there are some areas that a college basketball coach does not have much knowledge in.
Some lack the understanding of SAT procedures. Others lack experience in dealing with AAU coaches and sports agencies.
We found out, recently, that Bret Campbell, the former head coach at the University of Tennessee—Martin, is clueless about finance and accounting.
Last Thursday, Campbell resigned when an internal audit found he violated school policies when he cashed checks for summer basketball camps.
The audit showed that he cashed or deposited $21,145 into his personal account instead of putting the money into university accounts. The audit also said that Campbell paid for the camp's expenses and officials in cash from the deposited checks.
Although Campbell's record at UT Martin was only 125—167, the basketball team had a winning record two years in a row. This past season, with the team posting an overall record of 22—10, was UT Martin's most successful ever since playing as a Division I school.
Bret Campbell led the Skyhawks to their first Ohio Valley Conference championship with a 14—4 record and their first National Invitation Tournament appearance.
The community responded to the enthusiasm that was being generated at UT Martin. In the 2008—2009 season, the Skyhawks averaged over 1,000 more people per game than the previous season.
Critics questioned whether most of the credit for the team's improvement should go to Campbell or to Lester Hudson, a two—time OVC Player of the Year who averaged 27.5 points per game last season. Hudson has completed his eligibility and will be pursuing a career in the NBA.
With former assistant coach Jason James taking over the reigns, we will never know what the program would have done with Campbell guiding a different mix of players.
Bret Campbell admitted that mistakes were made, but questions remain whether or not he was intentionally attempting to deceive the school. Obviously, the money Campbell might have been able to pocket is much less than the salary he lost and the money he could have gained by continuing to build his resume as a head coach.
Perhaps the adminstration at UT Martin should have let what Campbell does best, coach young people about basketball and life at the summer camp, and allow someone else to handle the financial side of the endeavor.
When there is something wrong with your car, you don't take it to a restaurant chain to get it repaired. Why give a basketball coach the responsibility of handling money and paying expenses?
The school certainly could have had someone else handle the financial end of the camps. The university is training people to enter those types of fields. Treat it as an internship for a student that will soon enter into the real world.
Hopefully, Bret Campbell will get another opportunity to prove his worth as a basketball coach. He has learned a valuable lesson, and perhaps UT Martin has as well.