Frank Haith is breathing a bit easier these days all because the NCAA missed what is the equivalent of a wide-open slam dunk.
One day the Missouri coach was accused of being a bad boy during his time at Miami and the NCAA was ready to pounce with charges of unethical conduct because of his dealings with booster Nevin Shapiro, currently imprisoned for orchestrating a $930 million Ponzi scheme. Shapiro made allegation of rules and recruiting violations at Miami to Yahoo! Sports two years ago, and said he provided extra benefits to more than 70 Hurricane athletes from 2002-10. Haith’s departure from Missouri seemed imminent.
The next day the NCAA released a statement that former enforcement members worked with the criminal defense attorney for Shapiro to improperly obtain information for its investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding which is a legal no-no. That forced the NCAA to put a halt on its notice of allegations against Miami, and Haith is safe to coach his team for the time being.
“To say the least, I am angered and saddened by this situation,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said. “Trust and credibility are essential to our regulatory tasks. My intent is to ensure our investigatory functions operate with integrity and are fair and consistent with our member schools, athletics staff and most importantly our student-athletes.”
Still, this is another example of how the NCAA’s system of checks and balances doesn’t work and the Miami case should call into question if every major investigation has been corrupted in some fashion.
UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad would have received more than a three-game suspension if the gossipy boyfriend of an NCAA investigator didn’t flap his gums about Muhammad’s eligibility while on a flight. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is suing the NCAA over its handling of the Penn State football case, saying it violated antitrust laws. The Miami debacle is the ultimate head-scratcher.
With each blunder, the NCAA loses more credibility.
Butler received some good news this week when guard Rotnei Clarke was cleared for practice and he could make his return as early as today when the ninth ranked Bulldogs (16-3, 3-1 Atlantic 10) play host to Temple (13-5, 2-2).
Considering Butler has beaten Dayton, Richmond and Gonzaga without Clarke (although they could have used him on Wednesday in a 54-53 loss at La Salle), the Bulldogs are solidifying an already strong team with the addition of the senior guard. Clarke hasn’t played since Jan. 12 when he suffered a neck injury at Dayton.
It’s hard to figure out what to expect from Georgetown (13-4, 3-3 Big East) game to game. They lost in overtime to then-No. 1 Indiana back in November during a 10-1 start, then lost to Pittsburgh, 73-45, on Jan. 8. That loss could be explained away if not for the three-point loss at South Florida last week before they rebounded at Notre Dame on Monday with a 16-point victory which was the Hoyas’ most comprehensive showing of the season.
So it’s anyone’s guess which team will show up this afternoon against Louisville (16-3, 4-2).
West Virginia (9-9, 2-3 Big 12) has lost four of its last six games and Bob Huggins is seething. After last week’s 27-point loss at Purdue, Huggs went public with his disappointment.
“I want to apologize to our fans, apologize to the people in the state of West Virginia. This is totally unacceptable,” he said. “This is not what we’re supposed to represent and hopefully they have enough faith in me that I will fix it.”
Help is on the way ironically from Ohio, a state where Huggins thought the overall talent was lukewarm during his days at Cincinnati. He’s already signed Cincinnati’s Devin Williams and Columbus native Elijah Macon, a pair of four-star power forwards.
Steve Alford went on the rampage recently about how the Mountain West, in which his New Mexico Lobos are a member, is being dissed in the rankings. Only one team, Alford’s No. 15-ranked Lobos, is in the Top 25 but it appears he has a monetary reason for his poll disdain.
According to the terms of his contract provided by the Albuquerque Tribune, Alford receives $15,000 if the Lobos (17-2, 4-0) beat a Top 20 team, and he’s reached the mark once this season when they beat then-No. 8 ranked Cincinnati on Dec. 27. New Mexico beat ranked teams in Connecticut and UNLV, but neither were in the Top 20. The Lobos play at San Diego State, No. 25 in the Coaches poll, today but Alford’s chances at another money grab are slim. None of the remaining teams New Mexico plays are ranked.
Another feel-good story that’s developing is at Bryant University under one-time Ohio University coach Tim O’Shea. O’Shea took the job four years ago when the program elevated to Division I status and won just a total of 20 games.
Now, the Bulldogs sit atop the Northeast Conference standings with a 13-5 overall record and 6-1 in league play.