Outside the Lines put together an excellent piece on John Calipari brooming five players from Kentucky's roster as soon as he arrived. (It's technically six but one guy was a potential fifth-year, not an underclassman; ESPN's stretching a bit to make their case.) They mention that other people playing this game are Nick Saban, Billy Donovan, and… John Beilein!?!
Yes, actually, they do. It comes deep into the piece and is a tiny aside but they bring up the guy freakin' heading NCAA basketball's new ethics committee for Michigan's roster turnover amongst the usual sea of sketchy guys with slick hair:
A quick glance at the six departures over two years cited:
Ekpe Udoh. Udoh just turned in a triple-double for Baylor; Beilein obviously didn't want to lose him. Udoh saw 65% of available minutes in Beilein's first year and every time he is brought up a little part of a Michigan basketball fan dies. (Sorry, Eldridge P. Murthel of Saline, but that toe is never going to feel again.)
Reed Baker. Baker was offered an explicitly one-year deal sight unseen by Tommy Amaker (who feared that Dion Harris may have ended up academically ineligible) and took it; Beilein did not renew it. Baker landed at Florida Gulf Coast, where he's playing about 30 minutes a game.
Jerrett Smith. Smith was Kelvin Grady before Kelvin Grady was Kelvin Grady, a point guard who got buried on the depth chart. I believe he didn't come close to meeting Beilein's newly-instituted physical requirements. He transferred to GVSU and played the final year of his career there.
K'Len Morris. Morris also transferred to GVSU. He''s a junior this year; last year he saw 12 games before an injury ended his season. This year he has eight minutes in one game. (Injury again?)
Kendrick Price. Price quit the team when Beilein came in and now plays for the Vermont Frost Heaves of the Premier Basketball League. He is listed as a rookie from Michigan, so I believe he finished his degree at M instead of transferring somewhere else.
Kelvin Grady. Grady ended up buried at the end of the bench behind two walk-ons and decided he wasn't a fit for Beilein's offense. He's still at Michigan, playing receiver for the football team.
Only four of the departures were unexpected or something other than a total disaster for the interior defense and only two of those saw the players actually leave school—this is about academics, after all. Even leaving aside that, Michigan spent last year with ten scholarship players and the year before that with nine. No one was removed from the team to make room for a hotshot freshman. Creating standards your players have to meet to find playing time and seeing them transfer or quit because they don't, as Smith, Morris, and Price did, is totally different than cutting players so you can sign John Wall.
I don't bring this up to be defensive; it's just that the most common defense of this stuff on the part of folk who should be defensive is to bring up normal, un-sketchy attrition and attempt to draw a comparison. John Beilein (of all people!) is nothing like John Calipari.
Other than that, though, the piece is excellent. Three former UK players are quoted on-camera saying that they were cut. Cut with weaselly plausible deniability, but cut. Predictably, the comments are a horde of UK fans talking about haterz seeing them rolling. Jemele Hill's claim that UK fans would root for Charles Manson if he won is the most accurate statement that's ever been apologized for.
Broken record time: the NCAA should do something about this. Kudos to ESPN for ratcheting up the pressure.
I was shocked to see Beilein included on this list, but to be devil's advocate I figure fans of Florida, Alabama, and Kentucky could make similar arguments for some of the guys who left (well, maybe not Kentucky - they could care less if Calipari unceremoniously threw bench players from the roof of Rupp Arena if it means they are relevant again). I agree that Beilein should never, ever be included in the same discussion as the Sabans and Caliparis of the world, but this type of roster culling is going to continue as long as revenue sports remain, well, sources of revenue for universities.
I think one of the few viable options to curtail the matter, along with Brian's suggestion of sanctions that take effect after the current class leaves, is to allow the sanctions to follow the coach when he leaves. This kind of happened with Ralph Sampson and the cell phone/text message blitzkrieg, but I think guys like Saban, Sampson, Floyd, and Calipari would find it infinitely harder to gain employment if the scholarship restrictions and/or post-season bans that were levied against their previous schools followed them to their new job. I doubt UK would have jumped at Cal if they were automatically out 2-3 scholarships for 2 years or couldn't compete for a NCAA spot this year. Outside of that type of pronounced punishment, expect college teams to resemble more and the more the pro teams they feed.
1. This is the thing neither Calipari nor Saban can say: "Michigan spent last year with ten scholarship players and the year before that with nine. No one was removed from the team to make room for a hotshot freshman." Forget the explanations for each player; Michigan basketball had no business being included (not noticing the fact that Michigan was well under the scholarship limit the last 2 years must have been a simple oversight by the producers).
2. Another option for improving the situation. Change the NCAA rules to *permit* (not require) coaches/schools to offer 4 year scholarships. This would allow schools to truly committed to a player to distinguish themselves from those which aren't. And, in the case where a coach like Calipari or Saban steps in to a new program, they might not have the option of forcing some guys out.
1. I totally agree that UM should not have been listed because clearly nobody was "forced out" for space considerations. My greater point is that fans could point to certain individuals who were let go for fairly legitimate reasons - bad grades, off-the-court/field troubles, wanting to transfer, etc. I agree UM shouldn't be included, but it is rare for a kid to just be kicked off for more room - usually their grip on the spot is tenuous for a myriad of reasons.
2. A nice alternative, but I'm not sure how it would be implemented fairly for everyone involved. Suppose a kid shows up, figures out after a year or two that he won't see much playing time, then asks to leave. Or goes pro, fails out, etc? Does that scholarship go back into the fold? If so, then you have effectively the same situation as you have now - kids are always "persuaded to experience success somewhere else." If the scholarship is held against the university, then that doesn't seem particularly fair either - kids leave for "selfish" reasons all the time, and the university shouldn't be punished for that going forward. Also, schools would probably just become even more gun-shy about non-slam dunk choices, which would lead to more preferred walk-ons and far fewer non-elite kids having a chance to play collegiately.
3. Totally right. Finished the Simmons book on basketball a couple of weeks ago and that name was just hammered into my head.
Re: #2, I would think a scholarship left unused by a player who voluntarily left (transferred/dropped out/went pro) would have to go back into the fold. I agree that the Caliparis and Sabans might prove plenty adept at getting kids to leave "voluntarily," but the OTL piece suggested that the threat of losing his scholarship was what got at least one of the players to transfer. I agree it might not do that much, but it likely wouldn't hurt, right? And it seems like the kind of rule change the NCAA might actually consider adopting (not much additional oversight, etc).
Re: #3, thats totally understandable (and probably obnoxious on my part to even point out) I just had a funny mental image of Ralph Sampson in orange knee pads and his 1980s-era tight UVa jersey frantically hammering out text messages. Now that I write it down, it doesn't actually sound that funny. Oh well...
The NCAA will not do anything about this. Look at Calapari. Two schools are sanctioned after he leaves and he has an unblemished record as far as the NCAA is concerned. Fans know he is scandalous. Kentucky fans don't care but every other fan base in the country knows. If the NCAA has yet to punish USC for multiple suspected violations regarding Joe McKnight and especially OJ Mayo and Reggie Bush, how can you honestly expect it to lift a finger on this? NCAA disciplinary body is a joke.
Isn't the NCAA "trying to do something" with via the APR? Isn't a school negatively affected in their APR when players leave the program. Obviously it isn't working that well, otherwise you wouldn't have coaches cutting kids. The only way to improve/correct it fully is by bringing it to light - which it seems like ESPN is attempting to do. We just need more media attention on this kind of stuff instead of on "practicing too much"
Great video. The NCAA is a joke and seems to only penalize the major universities if they absolutely have to. Smaller schools have gotten the shaft for violations that would be a joke to a BCS school by comparison.