Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Basketball........The Ugly!

I start this off by first saying this is not about any one person, but about a system in dire need of revamping. This includes the NCAA, AAU, Grass Roots Programs, Sneaker Companies, Sports agents, D1, D2 and even some D3 programs. I have sat and watched along with everyone else how this game we all love has gotten out of hand, or shall I say put in the hands of the wrong folks who seem to be calling all the shots from behind the curtain. We have watched a wonderful game revolve from the scandals years ago involving CCNY and other area schools to a solid system of college teams competing for good ole university, and now back to under handed and questionable decisions. We are back at the stage where the big winners are playing with atomic weapons and the other college teams are using sling shots. And just what makes these college power teams so great? They have resources and connections that go beyond what others can dream about.

Lets start out talking about who is really controlling amateur athletics in the United States of America? Is it the NCAA? NAIA? NJCAA? AAU? I would say none of the four mentioned! The game we love is really now in the hands of various companies, rec and travel team people, sports agents, and basketball advisors. These folks really dictate what HS young players will attend, Colleges that HS players will attend, what coaches will get what jobs, who those coaches will hire as assistants, what sneakers those coaches will wear, and even what athletic directors will get interviews at what schools. In some cases I have even heard where salaries are paid by outside people not even affiliated with a particular university or school. Heck we have heard about some HS coaches getting paid by outside people including families of kids on the HS teams. We have heard about deals being made with everyone under he sun in regards to hiring and firing and athletic budgets.

Trust me, it is a different game than it was 20 years ago. So much money to be made with outside deals, elite teams scheduling weak teams who can earn upwards of $150,000 for a good loss in front of thousands of fans, TV appearance money, NCAA money, attendance money, Camps (Huge Money) bonus money from outsiders if you know what I mean, and much more including increased contributions from Alumni. There is so much money involved I am surprised things are not even worst. And at a time Athletic Directors are working hard to balance budgets and obtain funding to keep programs afloat, they are becoming very vulnerable when it comes to others influencing the decisions they make.

This makes power brokers who do not even work for or within the NCAA very influential when it comes to jobs on all levels of Division 1. From what I heard in the past few days, power brokers from as far away as California, and as close as New York, are very involved with some of the smaller D1 programs. Why? power and influence! It is that conquer the world mentality and the rush they get by influencing hiring and in some cases firing.

The sad thing is lives are influenced by all of this, and it is far from pretty. It often is nothing short of exploitation of people. Kids are ruined by people pushing them in the wrong direction for the wrong reasons. Even some coaches and ADs are used and they do not even realize it. An AD has an opening for a coach and all of a sudden he or she gets a whose who in sports calling to recommend the same person. They are calling him or her at little university and the AD gets so excited he wants to almost tape the conversation. Wow, he might say to all in earshot, guess who just called? Of course the caller might just say how they have heard of the great job he or she has done at little university and when they hear of an opening at large university they are going to help him or her. But in the meantime how about helping out by hiring our candidate. And by the way, are you going to the convention? We should meet there for dinner! AD is feeling that this is his chance. Sad but true and this has happened alot in recent years from what I have heard. And truest me when I say sports agents, large companies, and many others are involved and no one says a thing. This brings me to my main issue today.

I continue to be stunned at the recent hiring of an interim men's basketball coach at FDU. I am stunned at the way Tom Green was let go. And I am even more stunned that Ron Brown was not offered the interim Head Coaching position. but as I look at it, everything is fast becoming crystal clear. I just have a few questions for the FDU AD. Why wait until now to fire Tom Green, I also ask if he thinks he hired to best possible interim coach for FDU?

Now this is not as much about the new coach at FDU as it is about a process that seems very unfair, especially for an interim coaching position. I have seen interim coaches hired many times. It is just that, an interim position with no guarantee that the person appointed will even get a job on the permanent staff. In almost all cases the interim is the person with the longest tenure, and the person looked at as 2nd in charge. That would have and should have been Ron Brown, who had 7 years experience at FDU and served as the Associate Head Coach. He also had head coaching experience at Florida AM, and LIU. He was an Asst. in the Big East at West Virginia and Western Kentucky. He had the credentials for the INTERIM JOB. And remember the interim job is one that wants a person to hold the program together until a permanent coach is identified in the future.

To even have 3 assistants interview for that position is confusing. After all this was not for the permanent position. Than the FDU AD gives the Job to a guy who just returned to college coaching after being away for many years making people wonder what is really happening. Are they waiting for another coach to become available after next season? What made the person chosen so good that he could be out of coaching for years and than get a job over an experienced and loyal employee who also was the Associate HEAD COACH? This again is not about the person chosen because I happen to like him. He also was a member of my team when he played summer basketball in NYC. And talk about fast and skilled? He was both. This is more about why would an AD pass up the Associate Head Coach who is loved, not liked, loved by everyone he comes into contact with. Plus he is experienced, dedicated, and committed.

Well the choice was made and FDU has done more in the past two weeks to clear a path for folks to again start calling them that made up name we all laugh at. I wonder if the President was prepared with the large number of calls he received from people very concerned at how Ron Brown was treated. Than again he should just ask his AD how he handled all the celebrity calls he might have received regarding the chosen candidate. But that would be hard because the AD made his decision and than went right out of town to a convention. Maybe one of the folks who called will indeed meet him for dinner.

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