Not only is recruiting a crucial component of college coaching, but it is also a very dangerous and slippery slope. Coaches have to follow strict guidelines put forth by the NCAA. The problem is that coaches are also under enormous amounts of pressure to win games and build a program. They need to win games to keep their jobs and most programs put coaches on a very short leash. Usually, college coaches are given just a few years to prove themselves. It all depends on the school’s stage, bright lights, and prestigious history.
In recent years, some head coaches have showed blatant disregard for the NCAA’s rules. Coaches around the nation have been caught and punished for a variety of violations. These violations range from providing players with improper benefits to smaller things like contacting a player during a certain period. In 2010, Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl was suspended for the first eight SEC games because he lied to the NCAA about hosting a recruit in his home for a barbeque.
Just this past season, UConn head coach Jim Calhoun was forced to serve a three-game ban for violations that have taken place under his watch. After extensive investigations, the NCAA found that a former manager for the basketball team, considered a school representative, had illegal contact with a recruit for an extended period of time. It also came about that the UConn coaching staff had provided impermissible tickets to certain coaches and teachers directly involved with student-athletes. In the end, UConn lost scholarships for three years and faced other recruiting restrictions. Calhoun was not happy that he was suspended for three games but ultimately UConn was relieved that they didn’t receive a ban from postseason activity.
The worst punishment a school can receive is something called the “Death Penalty.” This means that a school, no matter what Division they are a part of, cannot compete in a certain sport for an entire year. It has only been implemented five times, including twice for basketball programs. If this trend of recruiting violations continues to increase, punishments may start to be become more severe.
Recruiting in Division II and Division III basketball is drastically different from Division I. Not only are Division I coaches looking for a different caliber of player but they also cover a larger area outside of their home state during the recruiting process. However, what many people don’t realize is that recruiting from Division II to Division III is also very different. Although Division II coaches do not venture as far outside of the state as Division I coaches, they do utilize surrounding states more than Division III coaches, who primarily focus on in-state recruiting.
This year, Connecticut’s two most successful Division II schools were the University of Bridgeport and the University of New Haven. Bridgeport finished the season with a 19-10 record, eventually losing in the East Coast Conference championship. Bridgeport’s entire 12-man roster is made up of out-of-state players, except for one player that came from Connecticut. That works out to just 8 percent of Bridgeport’s roster being made up of in-state players. Meanwhile, New Haven was 15-13 this season after losing in the second round of the Northeast-10 Conference tournament. Their percentage of in-state players is greater than Bridgeport’s but is still just 23 percent.
On the Division III side, Connecticut’s two best teams this season were Eastern Connecticut State University and Albertus Magnus College. ECSU is currently 24-5 and in the midst of a Division III NCAA Tournament run. They have 16 players on their roster and 15 of those 16 are from Connecticut. That means that their roster is made up of 94 percent in-state players. Albertus Magnus is a mirror image. Their roster is also made up of 94 percent in-state players, with just one of their 16 players coming from outside of Connecticut. Albertus Magnus dominated the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, wrapping up the season with an overall record of 28-2. They ended up losing in the second round of the Division III NCAA Tournament.
There is obviously a substantial difference in the recruiting techniques and tendencies of Division II coaches compared Division III coaches. At least in Connecticut, Division III coaches are much more focused on in-state players compared to coaches in Division II.
College basketball in Connecticut has had a shadow casted over it for some time now. It is a Huskies-shaped shadow that has produced the likes of Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, and Emeka Okafor, among many others.
The University of Connecticut may be the juggernaut of Connecticut basketball but it is far from the only team taking the hardwood. There are several collegiate teams in the state that have to compete in finding elite players to continue to build their program’s success.
Whether it is Division I, II or III, all coaches go through a rigorous recruiting process every year in order to put their teams in the best possible position for the future. Depending on their division and conference, different teams look for a different caliber of players.
The purpose behind this blog is to take a deeper look into the collegiate basketball in different parts of Connecticut. It will be interesting to uncover the differences in recruiting from each Division. For example, some coaches look for specific players to play within their system and some coaches will recruit in certain geographical areas more than others.
Also, the NCAA has many rules about what coaching staffs are allowed to do when contacting an individual. It will be important to learn exactly what their limitations are and the pressures that college coaches are under in building their program.
Recruiting is the cornerstone to building a successful collegiate team and it is a topic that needs to be covered in a greater capacity.