Commentary

Don't blame AAU coaches for mess

Originally Published: September 8, 2010
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

Recently, the Conference Commissioners Association voted 31-0 to recommend eliminating July men's basketball recruiting beginning in 2012. This was a suggestion which still has to be voted on by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.

To me, it is absurd and ludicrous for the administrators to believe eliminating recruiting in July would clean up the mess plaguing college basketball. Come on now! I can understand why the coaches are upset.

Let's also think about the innocent young athletes who get an opportunity to get evaluated by groups of coaches sitting in gyms during the summer. These players are seen for the first time and their stock rises when given the chance to display their talent. These kids may not have been rated as high as others because they didn't get looked at closely.

[+] EnlargeAdonis Thomas
Liam Foley/Icon SMIWithout July recruiting, players like Adonis Thomas wouldn't get the chance to stand out in summer AAU tournaments.

When you can perform in front of a lot of coaches, you have a greater chance to be recruited. Over the years there have been many great stories about young men moving up the recruiting rankings as sleepers. Good coaches can find that gem in the rough at these summer workouts. Also, it's important to realize that Division I coaches are saving a lot of cash by seeing these players in one building at one time at AAU tournaments in July.

Do you believe that every AAU coach is guilty of illegal dealings? Give me a break. There are a lot of quality coaches, super guys who are dedicated to helping their kids. There seems to be this perception that this is all fraudulent but this process is not as bad as it is being made out to be.

If people feel that getting rid of the July recruiting period will clean things up, think again. Those who want to cheat will find other ways to get around the rules. This is not the solution to a dilemma.

It really comes down to an individual looking in the mirror and doing things the right way. Anyone who takes any cash is operating in an illegal manner. The youngsters and their families are well aware of the rules, but when you stick your hand out and try to gain an advantage, they are doing the wrong thing.

They are like prostitutes, selling their bodies. If you say no and go to the right authorities and report the individuals making illegal offers, you will help clean up this mess.

Eliminating recruiting in July will not end this problem. It will deny many youngsters a chance to show their talents in front of keen observers, coaches who can see these athletes at one time. My friends, it saves a lot of cash for these colleges, helping their recruiting budgets.

Let's deal with what is at hand and not believe that these AAU coaches are cheaters. The sport needs to be cleaned up, but I don't buy this as the answer.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.