Why Is Duke's Alleged Minor Recruiting Violation Such a Big Deal?

Ro ShiellAnalyst IAugust 1, 2011

Duke has a reputation of having one of the cleanest programs in college basketball. At the moment there is a lot of excitement regarding whether Coach Mike Krzyzewski offered a recruit a scholarship while he was still playing in a tournament.

ESPN's Andy Katz reported that the recruit in question, Alex Poythress, called Coach Krzyzewski last Tuesday. CBS Sports confirmed in an interview with Poythress that he was offered a scholarship. Below is an excerpt from CBS Sports in respect of the violation.

NCAA rules prevent coaches from contacting players before they are finished playing in tournaments. While the Georgia Stars were indeed eliminated from the Super Showcase, they were still in Orlando for the AAU Nationals. Players have to be dispersed from the team in order for a coach to talk to them.

According to Sporting News, Alex Poythress called Coach Krzyzewski. Surely if the recruit contacts the coach, that can’t be considered a violation, can it?

Alex Poythress is a 6’7” forward in the 2012 class. Even though his team was knocked out of the tournament, that information was not dispersed when he called Coach Krzyzewski.

Duke's compliance office is currently seeking clarification on this particular rule. However, a Kentucky SB Nation blog, A Sea of Blue, is going nuts on this one.  According to them, Duke has been caught and that’s it. They have even done their research thoroughly. Below is the bylaw's main points taken from the National Association of Basketball Coaches website (h/t A Sea of Blue).

Prohibited Contact [Bylaw (b)]

During a certified event, Division I coaches are prohibited from having contact at any location with:

  • Prospects;
  • Family members of prospects;
  • Prospect's coaches (non scholastic and scholastic); and
  • Anyone associated with a prospect.

The Sea of Blue article further stipulates that Coach Krzyzewski called one of the Georgia Stars' (Poythress’ AAU team) coaches and left a message for Poythress to call him back. Therefore, Duke has broken not one but two rules: Contacting a recruit during a tournament and contacting the recruit's coach.

I don’t know what this Kentucky site has against Duke, but it certainly seems to be going out of its way to see Duke punished for this secondary violation.

Duke has yet to release a statement of its version of the events as it awaits the NCAA compliance office’s response to their request for clarity.

In order to be a Division I basketball coach, clearly you need to have a lawyer at your side at all times. Why set a recruiting evaluation period if you are going to limit the coaches contact with the recruit?

Surely not being able to contact a recruit during school term is acceptable, as it would be seen as disruptive to academics. But during the summer is a different matter. Kids play in these tournaments to get exposure; the majority of them want college scholarships.

ESPN’s Dana O’Neil wrote an article last year, which partially covered the amount of traveling involved in summer recruiting for coaches.

Surely coaches have to be able to let one recruit know that they are serious about them. Then, they can move on to the next one before the evaluation period expires.

Indy Star reports that Brad Stevens caught most of 2012 guard Zak Irvin’s games throughout the July evaluation period, only for him to sign with Michigan.

A waste of time for Butler and Brad Stevens, as they may have missed out on other recruits.

I am not exonerating Duke in respect of this violation. If it did happen, I am more inclined to believe that it was a mistake rather than a calculated risk.

There are too many gray areas in college basketball recruiting, but this is not like Bruce Pearl lying point blank to the NCAA investigators regarding entertaining a recruit at his house before calling the recruit’s parents and trying to influence their version of the events.