Commentary

Worthless coaching contracts

Updated: May 13, 2011, 2:23 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

There is something wrong in college basketball when a high school player signs early and devotes himself to his college coach, then that coach decides to move on.

While Mark Turgeon went from Texas A&M to Maryland, and I happen to like the former Aggies coach, what about the players he recruited? I understand that kids go to a college and not necssarily for the coach, but let's face reality. They play because of the name on the front of the jersey, but they go to that institution because of a coach.

If I was a kid going to College Station right now, and I was recruited by Turgeon, I would be upset.

This scenario is the same whether the coach is Mark Turgeon or Geno Ford, who left Kent State for Bradley. Well my friends, Kent State is now involved in a lawsuit because it did not give Ford permission to leave.

The youngsters go because they like the style of play sold by the coach. They attend because the coach has said there will be playing time. Then if the coach leaves, the player may not be getting what he bargained for.

Frankly, I am getting fed up with this. A contract is a contract but it really doesn't mean much any more. It is a game of musical chairs now, and I understand to a point when a college coach wants to move on for what he perceives is a better job, or for more money.

The problem is, a contract is so one-sided. They are virtually meaningless on the collegiate level.

I have a five-year contract with ESPN and I am fortunate to have that deal. I thank my bosses for it. If I was to walk in and say that I want to go elsewhere, they are not just going to allow for me to get out of my deal. I have a commitment and I cannot leave whenever I want.

I just don't believe some athletic directors are strong enough. They don't look into a guy's eye and say no. I understand some coaches have out clauses. I don't buy the argument that some coaches are unhappy where they are and need to move on.

The athletic director said how much he wanted the coach by giving him a long-term contract. If the AD had guts, he would say, "Don't come to me in two or three years and tell me you are not happy. I gave you a long-term contract and stick with it."

I have not met a coach yet who doesn't want to win. He will work hard to reach his goals. I simply say, if a coach has a contract, he should honor it. There are too many times in the world of college athletics where a coach wants out early and it seems unfair to the incoming players.

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.