" Nothing is more expensive than free" is an saying the old heads like repeat. The saying applies to many things in life, especially club ball.
The NCAA has recently cleared UCLA men's basketball player Kyle Anderson. The NCAA has yet to clear fellow UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad. Both Anderson and Muhammad both are under scrutiny for "supposedly" getting help with travel costs in order to take unofficial visits. This is nothing new.
Former Baylor standout Perry Jones was suspended by the NCAA. Jones had a terrific relationship with his club coach. His club coach was basically a father figure to him since elementary school. Perry's club coach allowed his mother to borrow some money to pay a bill or two and she reportedly documented paying it back. Like many father figures, Perry's club coach took him to a preseason NFL football game. According to the NCAA, these deeds constituted improper benefits.
Now take a step back and reason. A "normal" person can lend a neighbor money with no scrutiny. In fact, giving a helping hand is applauded as a noble thing to do. A father can take his sons' friend to a football game and pay for the tickets and hot dogs, a common occurrence. Organizations like Big Brothers, seek out men who are asked to mentor young men. Taking them to ball games, out for ice cream, etc. is part of the program. However, when the 10 year old boy(girl) turns into a highly recruited basketball prospect, the former noble act now constitutes a potential NCAA infraction.
Right or wrong, this is the landscape in which college bound basketball players live in. The reason for this particular blog is to enlighten the parents of some of our future basketball stars in the city. Be wary of club coaches and club directors that promise free. Free can be very costly!
Not being an expert on the immensely thick volumes of NCAA rules, I am familiar with the basics. A club is not to provide benefits to an individual player that it does not provide to all its players. When being certified as a coach that is allowed to participate in NCAA events, a coach must take a test on the basic rules and pass a national background check. A coach CAN NOT participate in a NCAA certified event if he/she has a felony conviction. When taking the test, you will answer questions such as this, "Can a club director(coach) give a parent a ride to a game". Yes or No? The correct answer is NO! Unless, that coach gives everybody in the club a ride to the game or the parent shares in the cost of the ride, this CAN be considered an improper benefit, the way I understand the rule.
Now come on! The RIGHT thing to do is to is to provide help when needed. Your third grade teacher would be so disappointed if her lessons of sharing and caring did not lead you to give helping hand to those in need. But, this ain't elementary school and some adults don't play fair.
Some coaches recruit kids with the promise of free. In doing so, some of these coaches are potentially holding the fate of some players in their hands. What happens when a parent decides to leave the "free" coach after receiving needed help. This coach now has leverage over the families and may tell the powers that be about "helping" the family. Most coaches are in this to do good, especially since girls basketball is a non revenue producing sport on almost all levels. However, some misguided coaches are bragging about financially helping kids(parents) play the sport and not realizing that they may be jeopardizing a kids' future. How do you know which club coach is whispering free the loudest? Watch the trophy chasers! Their need to win and play NBA GM's by assembling fantasy league teams can cloud their judgements and make them forget that the kids are the ones who are affected by their "generosity".