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The Stability INDEX
Alexander Wolff
November 24, 2003
Each is a Top 20 team, but how solid—or shaky—is the program? SI has devised a way to find out
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November 24, 2003

The Stability Index

Each is a Top 20 team, but how solid—or shaky—is the program? SI has devised a way to find out

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TOTAL STABILITY

SCHOOL NAME
SI RANKING

PLAYER RETENTION

TRANSFER IN

TRANSFERS OUT

NBA EARLY ENTRIES

PLAYER BEHAVIOUR

COACHING LONGEVITY

COACHING INSTITUTION FACTOR

STAFF STABILITY

NO NCAA TROUBLE

NO MESSINESS

RED FLAG

10

Stanford (17)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

With few transfers or flunk-outs, the Cardinal may be the most stable elite program in America. But coach Mike Montgomery carries the dead weight of a recruiting mistake for years—a practice less ethical coaches avoid.

7

Oklahoma (18)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

Even though Kelvin Sampson brings in rafts of jucos, virtually all exhaust their eligibility under his watch. The red flag comes from former Sooner J.R. Raymond's 2001 guilty plea on a charge of larceny.

7

St. Joseph's (15)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

A solid score for a program whose Hawks mascot is so steady that it flaps its wings throughout every game. But then an ambitious mid-major like this one sorely needs stability to compete with the behemoths.

7

Texas (14)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

Fruitless lawsuits by ex-assistant Eddie Oran (against former boss Tom Penders) and ex-Longhorn Luke Axtell (against Penders, AD DeLoss Dodds and the school) are in the past. Credit coach Rick Barnes with evening the keel.

6

Connecticut (1)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

Last season's assault charge against Ben Gordon (he entered a rehab program to get it dropped) sustained UConn's recent trend of off-court woes. At least the Huskies' NBA-bound players tend to stay three seasons.

6

Duke (4)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

Blue Devils would have scored a 7 or 8 if not for their crack-up after the '99 Final Four, when three bolted for the pros, and for Casey Sanders's arrest for assault (the charge was eventually dismissed).

6

Florida (5)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

Teddy Dupay's expulsion for gambling was a near-red-flag mess, but whispers about the Gators recruiting—traced to rivals Kansas, South Carolina and Stanford—have turned out to be more smoke than fire.

6

Illinois (12)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

Coaches may come and go—first Lon Kruger, then Bill Self and now Bruce Weber have worn a whistle, hence the red flag—but players have given the Illini their backbone, thanks to an 81% retention rate.

5

Cincinnati (20)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

Six players in this red-flagged program have faced criminal charges, ranging from assault to reckless driving to shoplifting. And you wonder why Bearcats coach Bob Huggins suffered that heart attack.

5

Gonzaga (3)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

Seven outgoing transfers in five years suggests Gonzaga is the Spokane Trailways station, yet coach Mark Few makes it work, as arrivistes like Dan Dickau flourish. Talent stays: Gonzaga hasn't lost anyone early to the NBA.

5

Kansas (10)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

If Roy Williams had stayed—and if he had never signed troubled transfer Lester Earl (who took money from a booster at LSU and was charged with DUI, later dismissed)—the Jayhawks would be a 7 or 8.

5

Michigan State (2)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

Turmoil has hit in the spring: That's when underclassmen Zach Randolph, Jason Richardson and Marcus Taylor all left, and Antonio Smith was acquitted of charges that he stole a beer from a 7-Eleven.

5

Notre Dame (13)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

The Irish get a red flag for coaching instability, but with Mike Brey entering his fourth season and under contract for five more, that should soon change. Junior Troy Murphy's 2001 bolt to the NBA was a Domer anomaly.

5

Syracuse (9)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

With top aide Bernie Fine alongside Jim Boeheim for 28 seasons, the bench is stable. But the Orange lose points for transfers out and suspensions and get red-flagged for DeShaun Williams's DWAI conviction.

4

Arizona (6)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

Jim Rosborough, Lute Olson's aide for 24 years, kept things steady following the 2001 death of Olson's wife, Bobbi, but a guilty plea from Justin Wessel on a reckless driving charge raises a red flag.

4

Missouri (8)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

One red flag and a near second (a retention rate of 53%). Besides the seven player suspensions, three Mizzou staffers have been disciplined for NCAA violations, and a fourth had a DWI bust (and pled guilty to a lesser charge).

3

Kentucky (11)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

The Wildcats have averaged more than two suspensions a year; the Big Blue earns its red flag for five entries on the police blotter, four involving alcohol. Nine transfers out haven't helped stability either.

3

North Carolina (7)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

With three coaches since 1997, the Tar Heels get a red flag—but with Roy Williams, Carolina also has a chance to reverse the slide that took the program from the 2000 Final Four to a calamitous 20 losses two seasons later.

3

Wisconsin (16)

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

Throughout much of the '90s Steve Schmitt, owner of a shoe store near Madison, offered Badgers Travon Davis and Maurice Linton discounts—and earned the program probation. Two coaching changes hoisted the red flag.

1

Louisville (19)

[Check]

[Check]

[Red Flag]

The Cardinals' already low point total gets halved by a red flag, the result of Bryant Northern's guilty pleas to forgery and theft. But most of the turbulence can be traced to the period before Rick Pitino's arrival in 2001.

It took a year of turmoil in college hoops to get us wondering, but wonder we did: Which schools have the least and most stable programs? After all, only four times in the last 40 years has a school won an NCAA title with a coach who had been in place for fewer than five years. (The exceptions were Michigan State in 1979, N.C. State in '83, Michigan in '89 and Kentucky in '98.) But coaching longevity isn't the only mark of a program's stability. Those dreaded "-tions"—probation, suspension, transition, distraction—can have a profound effect as well. (Nothing will get a coach to denigrate his own team's chances more than "distractions.") Moreover, without rosters stocked with fully ripened seniors, recent mid-major upstarts like Princeton, Kent State and Creighton wouldn't have enjoyed their glorious seasons.

So we devised a simple metric, the Stability Index, to quantify just how grounded, or how chaotic, a team is. If a school meets one of our 10 tests, it scores. Eighty percent of your players exhaust their eligibility on your campus? That's one point. Coach been in place for at least five years? That's another. No NCAA troubles in that span, either? Another point still. The higher the Index, the more rock-solid the program. We also tagged with a red flag any school that met a particularly alarming threshold of instability within each category, and docked a point for each drapeau rouge.

While we've only included scores for our Top 20, we invite you to calculate the Index for teams of your choice.

How It WORKS
The SI Stability Index is based on 10 criteria in three categories. For meeting each test a school gets one point. (A particularly poor record in a category earns a red flag and a one-point deduction.) A total score of I or 0 (or less) indicates a program in chaos; a 9 or 10 is a hoops Gibraltar.

THE PLAYERS (PAST FIVE SEASONS)

?Retention
At least 80% of players (jucos included) who have arrived on campus since the beginning of the 1998-99 season (excluding this year's recruits) have exhausted their eligibility at that school or are on track to do so.

?Non-Juco Transfers In
No more than five.

?Non-Juco Transfers Out
No more than five.

? NBA Early Entries
No more than two underclassmen (freshmen or sophomores) have left school to enter the draft.

?Behavior
No more than two academic and/or disciplinary suspensions.

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