SBD/Issue 162/Collegiate Sports

NCAA To Increase Watch Over Men's Basketball Recruiting

Officials Say Increased Focus On Men's
Basketball Recruiting Predates O.J. Mayo Case
The NCAA is "breaking off three members of its 20-person investigative staff to monitor recruiting and other problem areas, develop contacts and leads and ultimately provide a better handle" on men's basketball, according to Steve Wieberg of USA TODAY. NCAA President Myles Brand yesterday said the men's basketball environment is "more difficult than some of the others, certainly on the recruiting side." Brand: "We have to have enough knowledge and sufficient networks ... to successfully investigate these cases. That's why we think it's better to have a few people, some of our leading investigators, who are focused in their efforts." The three staff members, led by NCAA Associate Dir of Enforcement LuAnn Humphrey "will attend summer camps and other events to familiarize players and others with NCAA rules." NCAA VP/Enforcement David Price said that the move "could lead initially to a spike in the number of basketball infractions cases, 'and hopefully that will create some kind of deterrence in the long run.'" Wieberg notes the program is "gearing up" as the NCAA begins to look into charges that former USC G and NBA Draft prospect O.J. Mayo "violated rules by accepting thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from a [L.A.] event promoter before Mayo arrived at USC and while he played for" the team last season. But both Brand and Price said that the "new emphasis on basketball predates the case." Price: "It is clearly coincidental, but it also certainly points out the need for change" (USA TODAY, 5/13).

MAYO: The NCAA yesterday said in a statement the Mayo allegations were "new to the NCAA. This information was not available when the NCAA examined Mr. Mayo's academic and amateurism status prior to his collegiate enrollment, and we will review the information in conjunction with the institution and the Pac-10 conference." In L.A., Ben Bolch reports there "could also be criminal investigations," as California law "prohibits sports agents from providing cash or gifts to student athletes" (L.A. TIMES, 5/13).  ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “If the NCAA had any guts, they would really go after Southern Cal. But they don’t go after big, tough schools” (“PTI,” ESPN, 5/12).

EARLY REPORT: While ESPN's "Outside The Lines'' is credited with breaking the O.J. Mayo story, has been sending out notices that Gregg Doyel wrote about Mayo's recruitment and possible NCAA violations in a story on its Web site on October 17, 2006 (THE DAILY).

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