In the two months since the NCAA first suspended St. John's point guard Erick Barkley, coach Mike Jarvis has likened the association to everything from the Gestapo to Kenneth Starr, all the while portraying Barkley as an innocent victim. When reports surfaced that NCAA officials were investigating Barkley's SAT scores, Jarvis said, "The next thing you know, they'll want to check his birth certificate to see if he's a U.S. citizen, and if he's not, maybe they'll deport him."
The NCAA doesn't have to look quite that far into Barkley's past to unearth potentially damaging information. This season Barkley had numerous telephone contacts with agent Andy Miller; Barkley even surprised Jarvis on March 21—four days before he announced he was turning pro—when he brought Miller to Jarvis's office for a discussion about Barkley's future. Records subpoenaed in an unrelated court case involving Miller also show numerous telephone contacts over the past five months between Miller and Anthony Carela, the summer-league coach whose car swap with Barkley caught the attention of the NCAA's gumshoes in the first place.
Attacking the NCAA has been the in tiling for college basketball coaches and the media as well, but some of the facts undercut their sanctimony. The NCAA was assailed as heartless when it suspended Michigan's Jamal Crawford because of his relationship with a Seattle businessman who had acted as a de facto guardian when Crawford was in high school. Newspaper reports later revealed evidence, however, that the businessman was an aspiring agent who provided Crawford with cash, jewelry and cars, and that the man apparently tried to launder the gifts through his foundation. The NCAA was also criticized for ending the college career of Auburn's Chris Porter, who claimed he had taken $2,500 from an agent to keep his mother from being evicted from her house. But investigators can find no eviction notice or lien on the property, and Henry County records show that taxes on the place were paid several days before Porter met the man who arranged the money transfer.
Jarvis was still bible-thumping about the NCAA during a coaches' meeting last week at the Final Four. If Jarvis wants to be an effective messenger for change, he should first make sure that his own house is clean.