Monday, July 27, 2009

Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings Stands on Principle

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 2:26 PM

click to enlarge College basketball coaches don't mess around: For speaking out, Vandy's Kevin Stallings lost a thumb. Oh wait, there it is.
  • College basketball coaches don't mess around: For speaking out, Vandy's Kevin Stallings lost a thumb. Oh wait, there it is.
Just like in real life, it's hard to distinguish between good guys and bad when it comes to college basketball recruiting. On the one hand you've got high school and A.A.U. coaches, who serve as mentors and sounding boards for their star athletes, even though they're sometimes abusing that privileged trust to serve their own ambitions. On the other you've got college coaches with similar ambitions (Remember kids: There is always another rung on the ladder. Step on hands if you have to, just keep climbing.) and an interest in not rocking the boat that's delivered them so far in their careers. To top it all off, you've got the NCAA, a $4 billion sweat shop that only dabbles in educational do-goodery and colludes with professional leagues even wealthier than themselves in order to keep alive the profitable practice of indentured servitude. Is that enough moralizing for you? Good. Because now we've got an actual example of an actual college coach (who's local!) standing up and speaking the truth for once. And we're almost 99% positive he's not doing it to serve his own best interest. (OK, make that 95%. You never know with these guys.) As the New York Times Pete Thamel reports, the gatekeepers who run summer basketball tournaments are now charging college coaches hundreds of dollars for information packets, often springing the extortionate cost on them after the coaches have driven long distances and paid the up-front admissions fees. (If nothing else, these guys certainly have a future working for Comcast.) Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings went to one such tournament in Memphis and drove home when the organizer asked for $295 for a "required" roster. As Deadspin points out, Stallings' willingness to talk on the record about a well-known practice marks him as the rare whistleblower in a small fraternity committed to the status quo. Bask in the glory that is a rich guy speaking truth-to-power:
"That's exactly what's wrong with our business," Stallings said. "There's a mentality where coaches want to cover themselves and not get out there and say what's right and call out the people that are wrong. "That's precisely why things are the way they are. That's why we have culture issues in our game. It's a darn shame. The people who could have influence and do have a voice, they choose not to use it because it doesn't help them. They don't want anything unsettling their smooth little boat ride."

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