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The Wooing Game
Steve Rushin
November 29, 1993
Lusting after recruits, college basketball coaches resort to epistles, poetry and pestering
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November 29, 1993

The Wooing Game

Lusting after recruits, college basketball coaches resort to epistles, poetry and pestering

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A.: Two. As one coach creates a diversion by complaining that NCAA budget restrictions make it impossible to afford a new light bulb, the other coach buys a chandelier.

Q.: Now that you mention it, I do frequently hear basketball coaches beef about NCAA cutbacks (which now limit teams to 13 scholarships and forbid third assistant coaches from making more than $16,000). Isn't it hypocritical for these coaches to complain while at the same time they're purchasing three plane tickets to fly in one kid?

A.: Not at all. Nowadays, it's the only way to make an impression. Let's face it, few coaches are willing to write 900 letters to a kid in this era of jet travel. Which is too bad, because all you need is a pen, some paper and $261 in stamps.

Q.: Who said, "Drug dealers have better access to our kids than we do," and what was he talking about?

A.: Georgetown coach John Thompson, and he was complaining about the myriad restrictions placed on college basketball recruiters by the NCAA.

Q.: What is the most formidable restriction placed on college basketball recruiters?

A.: Single-occupancy restrooms. During the summer "evaluation" period, the only contact that coaches can have with recruits is that which is "unavoidable" and "incidental." Thus, should a coach happen to run into a recruit during that period, the two may exchange "only normal civility," according to Rule 13.1.2.3 (e) [1-4] of the NCAA manual. Thus, every time a player goes to the men's room at an all-star camp, recruiters invariably follow him in and exchange normal civility—while standing at adjacent urinals.

Q.: You're joking, right?

A.: "Coaches weren't allowed to talk to me," says Dan Fortson, a star at Pittsburgh's Shaler High who has signed with Cincinnati, recalling his experiences at an AAU tournament this autumn. "Whenever I'd go to the bathroom, a couple of coaches would follow me in there."

Q.: Is there any place that coaches won't go—so to speak—to gain the attention of a blue-chipper?

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