So much for your parents watching over you. These days, the parent-child dynamic calls for a system of give and take—at least in the world of college recruiting of student-athletes.
If you haven’t heard, NCAA enforcers struck again yesterday, ruling Baylor freshman phenom and potential #1 NBA Draft pick Perry Jones ineligible, because he allegedly received preferential treatment or improper benefits from an AAU high school coach.
Jones’ case is different from other recent incidents, which involved elaborate pay-to-play schemes and amateur coaches steering players to certain college programs. The NCAA determined that Jones’ mother received three loans from the AAU coach, all of which were repaid in a “timely manner,” according to reports. The loans were granted when Jones was in high school, and Jones had no knowledge of them. He had played for the AAU coach since 6th grade.
So, which NCAA rules were violated in Jones’ case? It’s hard to say, because despite a thorough search, we could not determine how the NCAA classifies AAU coaches. The rules are clear and explicit relating to college coaches, alumni boosters and agents in their relationships with prospective student-athletes. Any payments, gifts, compensation or other benefits offered by an individual associated with an institution (or an agent)—including loans, even if they are repaid in a “timely manner”—are forbidden. Violations usually result in the athlete being ruled ineligible to compete.
Jones did not violate any rule while a student at Baylor, and the school is appealing the NCAA’s decision. Baylor’s athletic director said that no representatives of the university were involved in or aware of any preferential treatment granted by the AAU coach to Jones’ family.
Jones’ unfortunate situation underscores the need for high-school athletes to exercise caution in all of their relationships, not only during the recruiting process, but throughout their athletic careers. From family to friends and everyone in between, the best practice is to avoid dicey situations that might involve gifts, money or future guarantees.
Student-athletes must take responsibility for educating their parents and other family members on the rules. Keep an open dialogue with family members on relationships with current coaches as well as conversations with college coaches. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you need more information, call the admissions or compliance office of the schools that are recruiting you.
The NCAA should consider promulgating clear guidelines governing the behavior of AAU coaches and their role in athlete recruiting—and making them easily accessible.