Where there is smoke, there is usually fire.
I don’t know what to make of what we are hearing across the country about a possible NCAA probe of San Diego State basketball, but when the ‘in-the-know’ beat guys from CBS-NBC-ESPN are all reporting to varying degrees, the fragments of information they have come up with, it is not a good sign.
The base information is the NCAA is asking questions about SDSU recruiting of a player, or maybe players. Insinuations of possible violations in illegal aid to players.
More concerning, the report there my be Level 1-violations, the most severe to a program, and that would coincide with rumblings that a current assistant coach is at the center of improper benefits.
As of this morning, there has been no “Letter of Inquiry” to the President of the school. There has been no Email nor telephone exchange involving information directed to Athletic Director Jim Sterk. They would be the first to know of wrong doing, or the arrival of someone on campus.
Violations in today’s age of basketball can run the gamut. Academic fraud, involving class work. Academic fraud involving tampering with transcripts. Inducements that can range from giving cash or jobs to family members to influence a decision to sign here. Fraudulent summer jobs involving boosters, timecards, payment for work not done.
It is hard to believe, the the values of a man like Steve Fisher, or his right hand man, Brian Dutcher, would ever be involved in law breaking.
We have seen however in other places, where assistant coaches have taken it upon themselves to bend or break NCAA rules to get access to players.
Other programs, other places, have been taken to hell and back by what was happening outside the circle of the head coach. Syracuse and Jim Boeheim are headed there with the latest sanctions imposed on the Orange. We are awaiting the horrors of what will be handed down at North Carolina, where a decade long scandal involving bogus course-work has tainted all the athletic teams there. Roy Williams may become what Fisher became. A victim of circumstance. Big cigar boosters have gotten Baylor and other places in trouble too.
We don’t know how this all came to be. The Aztecs have had two recruits mysteriously leave the program in the last calendar year, under cloudy terms. Might it be someone blew the whistle on all the Division 1-transfers that seem to be showing up at Montezuma Mesa? Might it be a rogue booster who has taken it upon himself to enter the recruiting process to influence players.
The national media has rushed to the history book, reciting verse and chapter of Fisher’s demise at Michigan, failing to understand it was dirty players like Chris Weber and the Fab 5, and a corrupt booster, who spread money around, without the knowledge of the coach. It cost Michigan its basketball reputation, and smeared Fisher, though he never-ever was found guilty of wrong doing, just not being aware.
So we will wait and see if a letter arrives, if NCAA lawyers show up, and what San Diego State says and does.
A great program, led by a great man, hard to believe where this might be headed.
You hope it’s not a Michigan situation all over again. You fear though, that kids, and AAU coaches, and agents and posse, may have touched these players, from the outside. Fisher cannot be their coach and guardian 24-hours a day from inside that arena.