"I now realize that every time you are investigated by the NCAA that it's a big deal," said former University of Kansas basketball Coach Larry Brown, referring to the three-year probation imposed Tuesday on the Jayhawks by the NCAA.
Brown may have learned his lesson about NCAA investigations, but does he realize that every time a college basketball program tampers with NCAA regulations, no matter how stringent they may be, it's a big deal, too?
The former college coach, who led the Jayhawks to a national title last season, doesn't have to realize anything anymore, now that he's moved on to the riches of the National Basketball Association as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs.
But is it fair that new Kansas coach Roy Williams and the rest of the current Jayhawk squad should suffer the consequences for the irresponsibilities of their predecessors, namely Brown?
The main violations surround potential transfer Vincent Askew and recruiting violations which occured during his 10-day stay at Kansas in the summer of 1986. Askew was considering transfering from Memphis St. at the time. Apparently, several people involved with the Jayhawks--Brown included--loaned $1400 to Askew. If he couldn't pay back the loans, Askew had been expected to work for the money. But the Kansas group wasn't worried about getting the money back.
David Berst, NCAA assistant executive director for enforcement, confirmed that no players from last season's championship squad were involved in any violations.
The probation prevents Kansas from participating in any post-season action over the next three years. The Jayhawks will not be allowed to pay for campus visits by recruits and will lose one paid scholarship over the probationary period.
Berst claims that the punishment was "as lenient as the committee could make it," the Associated Press reported. The defending national champions almost had their program shut down for the entire 1988-89 season.
As coach of the Jayhawks, it was Brown's responsibility to the players and students of Kansas that the basketball program remain within NCAA rule boundaries. He may have brought high-school phenom Danny Manning to Kansas and, four years later, a national championship, but Brown's primary responsibility, overriding all others, was the health of the Kansas basketball program.
Brown was the doctor and his patient, the Kansas basketball team, has been left in critical condition after an almost-fatal ordeal with the NCAA. He is guilty of malpractice.
Every member of the Jayhawk program, college basketball, and basketball fans across the nation deserve better from someone many considered to be a great basketball coach.