Ivy, Harvard to look into possible NCAA recruiting violations

Updated: March 5, 2008, 4:39 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Ivy League and Harvard will review whether recruiting violations were made by the Crimson men's basketball program.

A story in The New York Times on Sunday chronicled, among other issues, recruiting efforts by a man who is now an assistant coach at Harvard, and how those efforts might have been in violation of NCAA rules.

"We're going to do what needs to be done, and it's going to be done in a timely way," Jeff Orleans, the Ivy League executive director, told The Times for Wednesday's editions.

Kenny Blakeney, the top assistant on coach Tommy Amaker's staff, reportedly visited two recruits -- Max Kenyi, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Washington, D.C., and Keith Wright, a 6-7 forward from Norfolk, Va., when in-person contact is not allowed.

Kenyi told The Times that Blakeney had played basketball with him in June or July 2007. Wright told The Times that Blakeney had visited him at one of his summer basketball team practices in Norfolk, saying, "He actually got to play with us, because he wasn't actually on Harvard's staff ... He didn't sign anything yet, so he got to play with us, and we talked and exchanged numbers."

Harvard announced Blakeney's hiring on July 2, 2007. In addition, visits such as Blakeney's may still be a violation, according to NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson, because the rules state, "Should a coach recruit on behalf of a school but not be employed there, he or she is then considered a booster and that recruiting activity is not allowed."

According to The Times, Blakeney denied he was recruiting the two players, saying, "I was unemployed ... I don't know if it's a gray area or anything like that. I hadn't signed a contract. I didn't have any type of agreement with anybody. How could I recruit them to Harvard if I'm not employed?"

Harvard athletic director Bob Scalise said he has told Amaker that he needed to be "beyond reproach," according to The Times. But Scalise also said he did not know Blakeney had gone to play pickup basketball with a recruit during a time when such contact is not allowed.

Amaker, a former head coach at Michigan and Seton Hall, chose not to answer questions posed by The Times, instead releasing a statement.

"Harvard adheres to austere standards in every area of the university and I am honored to labor within that framework," Amaker said in the statement. "Individuals with knowledge of our staff understand the high principles under which we operate. We work within the spirit of Harvard and the Ivy League."