Welcome to the Archive

Posted in NCAA/College, Profiles, WNBA/Olympics with tags on September 8, 2008 by Helen

This site contains articles I’ve written on women’s basketball.

Also included are some entries from the Women’s Hoops Blog and a link to my 45+page Timeline of Women’s Basketball History, 1892-Present, a beast Kim Callahan has generously hosted, maintained and PDF’d.

I’ve “archived” the articles (also hosted by Kim) in the hope that fans, writers and anyone else interested in women’s basketball and sports will find them informative.

‘Sides, I’ve had a hoot talking to a lot of really cool, smart, committed people about this game I’ve fallen in love with. It seemed a shame to let their words “expire” after publication.

The cool thing about the blog format is you can use the SEARCH feature to find specific people or references (e.g. officiating, Jody Conradt, high school, homophobia, Division III, etc.). I’ve tried to organize the articles in various useful “clumpings” and will also need to review all the pieces for typos, etc. since they’re all in pre-editor version (sorry Sharon, Lois, Tilea and Summer).

The original publishers (each who will be credited in each article) are:

thehoopslink.com gave me my start back in 2000.

Then came Women’s Basketball Magazine, where I learned to write player profiles, Q&A’s and features. In 2004, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association invited me to be a contributing writer to their magazine “Coaching Women’s Basketball,” where I’ve focused on issues surrounding the game.

I’ve also written for the Women’s Sports Foundation and New York SportsScene and produced some “miscellaneous” pieces that appeared on various message boards. Which is what happens when you’re a mouthy fan of the game — and may explain why Ted asked me to join the Women’s Hoops Blog‘s ensemble of writers in 2005.

If you feel the need to know more about me, click here.

The Official Mumbo Jumbo (adapted from Kim Callahan’s mumbo jumbo)

You are not permitted to copy, reproduce, distribute, publish, enter into a database, display, perform, modify, create derivative works, transmit, or in any way exploit any part of this website, except that you may download material from this website for your own personal use. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, you may not distribute any part of this website over any network, including a local area network, nor sell or offer it for sale. This website does not endorse website duplication for offline browsing.

All documents on this website are Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Helen Wheelock. All rights are reserved. Republication and redistribution of the contents of this web site are expressly prohibited without the written consent of Helen Wheelock.

You may include links to any page within this web site from your own web pages or printed materials. Notification is requested, but not required.

For any other use you must first contact Helen Wheelock and receive written permission. I can’t imagine I wouldn’t say yes, so g’head – ask!

In a bit I’ll be figuring out how to make a “Contact Me” email thingy — until then, you can reach me via: helen [at] womensbasketballonline.com

Even more audio: WNYC’s The Takeaway – UConn streak broken

Posted in NCAA/College with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2011 by Helen

Link: Stanford Breaks UConn winning streak at 90

More Audio: The Takeaway, Mechelle & Helen on 89

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by Helen

UConn Women Break UCLA’s Winning Record with 89 Straight Wins

Listen: The University of Connecticut Women’s basketball team won their 89th straight game last night, surpassing John Wooden’s UCLA men’s team, who won 88 games in a row from 1971-1974. Connecticut’s Huskies beat Florida State 93-62; Maya Moore led the team with a career-high 41 points and 10 rebounds.

Mechelle Voepel writes for ESPN.com and watched the game, as did Helen Wheelock, a devoted UConn fan.

Supporting the High School Coach: Information, Education, and Certification

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 by Helen

When asked about the idea of a high school coach certification program, Mary Klinger’s response was unequivocal. “Am I for it? Absolutely,” said the Rutgers Prep (NJ) Athletic Director and girls’ high school basketball coach. “I’ve been in the business for 27 years and I’m still learning. If it’s going to make you better, if it’s going to improve the game, improve your kids, why wouldn’t you want to do it?”

The devil, of course, will be in the details.

“I think that the people leading the charge have to put a product out that people want to be a part of,” said Klinger. “There needs to be a lot of investigation into what exactly is going wrong and what is needed to go right.”

Not surprisingly, any discussions of what a certification processes might entail reflect the changing landscape of the non-collegiate coaching profession. While the majority of high school coaches have an education (though not necessarily physical education) background, more “lay coaches” – people who may have played the game but have had no formal training in teaching it – have entered the picture. This is happening at both the high school and younger levels, in and out of the educational system, and may be a trend on the rise.

“I think all Athletic Directors would rather have someone within the school or someone that is a teacher/coach” said Stan Benge, who is in his 24th year of coaching Ben Davis High School (IN). Not only would that person be formally licensed by the state, but also they’d be more likely to be integrated into the overall goals and policies of the individual school. “But, because of all the requirements demanded of teachers, many don’t want to coach because of the time commitment,” explained Benge. Consider, for example, Kem Zolman, who teaches math and coaches at Wawasee (IN), just north of Benge. In his 13th year, his in-season day starts at 7am helping students with their homework and ends at 9:30 after he’s graded papers and prepared for the next day’s practice.

As for the perks of that “second job?” “It’s not a monetary reward by any stretch of the imagination,” laughed Benge. “I’ve been National Coach of the Year, but I didn’t get any more money. People say, ‘Oh, you’ve come a long way. You’ve won two state championships in a row.’ That’s great. That’s fun. But,” he noted, “the last month [when he coached the tournament] is all free. I don’t get paid for that. “

Addressing the realities of time and money, Benge thinks “the certification process would have to be simple, especially for those who teach. If you’ve taught, you’ve gone through four or five years of college already and most of your classes have covered what you’re going to need to know. If you’re going to talk about certification for the lay coach, even though they’re good coaches, and very good people,” said Benge, “they should probably all be required to take that basic test to see what they know and then what they don’t know get that covered. If they couldn’t pass it, they would need to do some sort of course work to be certified.”

“There has to be a methods course,” added Klinger, reflecting on her own college training in Sports Administration. “I hire young coaches – they don’t understand sequence — you start here to get here. It’s not just ‘throw the ball out.’ I think a lot of the good and great coaches do have a teaching background. They understand that you start at block A to get to block G. You start at the base to get to the pinnacle. I think certification would really help to understand about the fundamentals and how important they are.”

Whether someone is a scholastic, lay, or summer coach, Klinger sees a need for a universality of expectations across the board. “You should be held accountable,” she explained. “Not only for minimum coaching knowledge, but behavior, too. This is their classroom. If some of these coaches behaved like that out in the business world they would be fired. If they acted like that in the classroom, they’d be fired. Why not the same thing?”

Thinking about the possible reaction of his fellow educators to a certification process, Zolman wants to be clear on the motivation behind any effort. “If they want us to be certified because they don’t think we’re qualified, I probably couldn’t disagree with them more. If they want us to be certified to make sure [coaches] coming out of college have been properly prepared? That quite another story.” For Zolman, that “preparation” speaks specifically to understanding the pedagogy and purpose of athletics in high school education and the complexities and pressures of the job.

“The push now is to have a program where, year in and year out, you’re competing for big time stuff. Well, I’m here to tell you, unless you can recruit — as good as coach Summitt is, nothing against her coaching ability, she gets the best women’s athletes year-in and year-out. The same with Geno [Auriemma] at Connecticut. But we don’t have that luxury. A school our size – we’re about 1000 – we’ll have someone come along like Shanna (his daughter, who attended Tennessee) maybe once in a lifetime. So, I’m not talking about women’s basketball where the goal is to go to college and play basketball.”

“So, now, what do we do high school basketball for?” asks Zolman. “Am I here about this person, or am I thinking about what that person can do for me? It’s not about me,” he stressed. “I’m only as good as what they’re going to be. It’s more about them as people. You’re sending them out as people.”

“I guess I have mixed emotions,” concluded Zolman, “but I’m leaning more towards the certification because it’s dealing with more than just the athlete itself – it’s dealing with the whole person.”

Obviously, whether talking about a coach “certification” or “education” program, questions about time, cost, content, and access and benefits need to address the different populations. The National Federation of State High School Associations and iHoops (a joint venture of the NCAA and NBA) are rolling out online programs that try to find a balance between the conflicting needs and realities. Specifically targeting the high school coach, at NFHSLearn.com you’ll find the National Coach Certification program, which includes 1) the Fundamentals of NFHS coaching, 2) First Aid for Coaching, and 3) Fundamentals of Coaching (Sport Specific) or Teaching sports Skills. The Sport Specific – Fundamentals of Coaching Basketball course has four units – Introduction to Coaching Basketball, Teaching Skills for Offense, Teaching Skills for Defense and Coaching Wisdom. The goal, said Mark Koski Assistant Director at NFHS, is to “look at coaching as a whole.” It will be offered through the State Associations and the cost to the individual can range from $35-$60. Whether they course will be “strongly recommended” or required, will be up to the individual state, but an incentive for taking the course be that coaches can double the liability insurance coverage the Association offers.

ihoops’ Director of Athlete & Coach Programs Neil Dougherty makes it clear that their program is not a certification process (which implies approval or disapproval of a candidate, background checks and on-going assessment) but is intended as year-round educational program. “Specifically,” said Dougherty, “we’re trying to improve the ability to teach the game of basketball and to handle everything that goes along with it. The psychology of how to handle different age groups. How to handle parents. How to better instruct the fundamentals of the game, individually and team-wise. From health issues to how to organize practice if, for instance, you initially thought, ‘I’m just taking my 9-year-old to play his first game of basketball’ and by the end of the first meeting you find out you’ve been asked to coach the team. We’re talking from the very beginning to advanced levels of AAU or summer programs.”

Having spent 20 years as a coach, Dougherty understands all the potential roadblocks that could easily make such a program a non-starter. But, it’s the changes he’s seen in those two decades that motivates him. “We’ve kind of legislated a big wall between our college coaches, our high school coaches and, further down, our grassroots coaches. We’ve got to do something to beat that wall down a little bit, where there’s more sharing of information, more ability to not just share but to grow the future coaches of America. That just isn’t going on the way it was 15-20 years ago because of the recruiting aspects that are in the way. For the good of the game, we’ve got to do something by way of sharing knowledge about the game. What we’re trying to start – maybe a ‘reversal of culture’ is too strong – at least opening the doors to talk about just coaching the game of basketball and the daily things that go along with it.”

Of course, there are naysayers but, said Dougherty, “What I’ve learned is that there are more people that want to learn to be more efficient and do a better job. That we’re recognizing that we have issues, particularly in the grassroots areas. I’ve been pleasantly encouraged by the amount of people who want to buy in to this way of thinking. I think we have to stay positive and push the notion that most people, if given the opportunity to learn or get help, that’s what they want.”

 

More Audio: Talking the UConn Streak – 88 on The Takeaway

Posted in NCAA/College with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by Helen

Listen:

The Huskies, the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team, tied UCLA’s men’s basketball record of 88 consecutive wins on Sunday when they defeated Ohio State at Madison Square Garden. Helen Wheelock is a huge Huskies fan; she was at Sunday’s game and can’t wait for them to go for number 89, and sole possession of the record, tonight against Florida State.

Mapping the journey to 96 teams: Turning roadblocks into a roadmap?

Posted in NCAA/College with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2010 by Helen

The news that the Division I men’s tournament was considering expanding to 96 teams provoked a storm of reaction from fans, coaches, administrators and media. One natural byproduct was the question, “Should the women’s tournament expand to 96 also?”

For many in the women’s basketball community, recalled WBCA CEO Beth Bass, the first response was immediate and visceral. “If you were to ask me, ‘Are we ready for expansion on the women’s side?” said Bass, “I’d immediately say, ‘No, I don’t think our product is there right now.’”

But now that people have had some time to sit with the question, they’re finding that simply asking it has provoked some thoughtful and unexpected discussions.

“There’s a lot to think about,” said Dr. Marilyn McNeil, vice president/director of athletics at Monmouth University and chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee during the 2010-11 academic year. “I believe the first question is equity. If the men expand to 96 [or 68, as they now have], you’re giving these opportunities to men, and yet you’re not giving them to women.”

“I think the message I’m sending to my President is that women’s basketball is not as important as men’s. And that’s the last thing I want to do.”

That specific concern is why Patriot League Executive Director Carolyn Schlie Femovich believes it’s essential the conversations continue. “We as an Association are committed to equitable participation opportunities in championships for men and women. Right now, women are at 51% and men at 49%.” Because the men have committed to expand – and especially since a future move to 96 teams hasn’t been ruled out – there likely will be a need to create additional opportunities for women. “The real crux of the issue is,” explained Femovich, “should those all go into women’s basketball, and is that good for the game of women’s basketball?”

“The logical response would be, well, 96 for men, 96 for women. But part of what we’re trying to do in a very responsible way as Membership – and that’s through the WBCA and the Women’s Basketball Championship Committee and the Issues Committee, and even in some very directed conversations among some Commissioners  – is to say, ‘What is really in the best interest of women’s basketball? Not just with expansion, but what is the business model as we look ahead for 10 years? What would we like to see happen and what are the kinds of things we might need to implement to continue to see the game grow and develop?”

Triple Crown Sports, who manages the WNIT, is listening to all these discussions quite intently, especially since this season marked the expansion of their post-season tournament. “The reason we went to 64,” explained WNIT Director Renee Carlson, “was that in the past couple of years, we’ve left out more and more good quality teams that we thought should be playing in the post-season. If the NCAA expands to 96, the first question, at least from our point of view, becomes do we stay at 64 or do we downsize to 32?”

The reality, though, is that the additional 32 the NCAA team would most likely be those who are the financial bread-and-butter of the WNIT. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to sustaining women’s basketball financially,” admitted Carlson. “So if those teams are not available, we might have to contract more. So now, suddenly, the opportunities for women’s basketball have decreased.”

Reaching this year’s WNIT finals has given Miami coach Katie Meier an interesting perspective on the expansion discussions. “I understand both sides of the story,” said Meier. “If 96 is going to be out there, then yes, I’m going to want one of those slots. But, at the same time, how many one-and-dones does that make?” she wondered. “We won five games in March and that’s never been done in Miami before.” During the tournament, Meier saw her team raise their shooting, rebounding and scoring percentages across the board. “To me that was a big deal. We brought our A-game in the post-season, and it lasted for a month. That was something we’re really going to build off of.”

Hosting three home games also allowed the Hurricanes to connect with alumni and build fan support, something that has become a trademark of recent WNIT tournaments. “Every year,” noted Carlson, “we have teams who go in and have their program’s best attendance ever. This year Illinois State was poised to sell out for a championship. Even not making it, you see them say, administratively, ‘Okay, we understand what we need to do to move forward with this – to capture this.’”

“Of course, the ultimate goal is to be in the NCAA,” said Meier, “but then maybe you don’t win any games in March. Now (with the WNIT) there are four teams that are playing six games in March. That’s a good thing to experience. But, at the same time, for the player’s WNBA resumes, for the coaching resumes, for everything else, it’s more prestigious to have NCAA appearances.”

That may be true but, suggested an administrator, “Be careful what your coaches want.” The current system allows a coach leeway due to, say, youth, transfers or injuries. With expansion, if a coach-on-the-edge is somehow not one of the 96, “They are going to definitely lose their job, even if they did have a couple of ACLs.”

Any talk of future expansion is tied to the current decisions that must be made to address the often conflicting issues of hosting, attendance and expanding the fan base for the existing tournament. For example, noted Sue Donohoe, Vice President of Division I Women’s Basketball, “When you talk about the format of the first and second rounds, some coaches’ take will be, ‘I think it should be the top 16 seeds as sites for the first and second rounds.’ Then there are others that ask, ‘If we’re at the top 16 sites, how does that grow the game?’ because year in and out, you’re returning to the same sites and hosts. Then,” Donohoe added, “you have to balance the whole ‘what’s good for the growth of the game’ with financial implications.”

“The message I drive home,” said Femovich, “is don’t necessarily model everything we do in women’s basketball after the men. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to have great competitive opportunities for women, and that the coaches shouldn’t get paid well and all those things. What I’m saying is, think about what will help grow your game and your product.”

“We’ve had a number of different experiences in terms of tournament format,” Femovich continued, “which one is really working the best for the women? What has drawn the best crowds? What has given you the best game opportunities? What has created the most interesting games? What does it all mean for television?”

The television question is particularly thorny because, while the last contract with ESPN included commitment to televise all rounds of the women’s games, it’s led to game times that may not be conducive to crowds. So, asked Femovich, “What would you rather have: Playing on someone’s home court at 3 p.m. and having a great atmosphere or playing at 9:30 p.m. on a neutral court for both teams, but there’s nobody in the stands? And what does that say to the audience or to your television partner?”

“I would ask coaches to really try to think about the game in the big picture. If you step out of your institutional hat and just put on your hat as a women’s basketball coach, what would you wish for the game? What could really make the game better? We are continuing to grow and evolve, but it might require that people agree to make some compromises — compromise for the good of the whole.”

Over the last few weeks, Bass has listened as people have moved the discussion from, “Why expansion doesn’t work,” to “Why it might work.” For her, it’s clear what the next steps are: “Let’s get all the stakeholders together and say, ‘Maybe not now, but we need to be poised and ready. What’s our plan?” said Bass. “Let’s not be caught down the road going, ‘Wow, we should have thought about that!’ Let’s get ourselves in position. That’s what athletics is all about.”

McNeil recognizes that there are many reasons the time is not right for expanding the women’s tournament, but cautions against turning those reasons into excuses against pro-active action. “People say, ‘We’re just not ready,’” she reflected. “Well, first of all, I’m not sure when we’ll be ready. But, and I bring this up all the time, I don’t think Patsy Mink [author of the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act], said in 1972, ‘I don’t think we’re quite ready for it.’ She saw there was an inequitable situation and figured out how to at least begin to address it.”

“I don’t know who gets to throw down the gavel and say, ‘Okay, now we’re ready,’” continued McNeil, “but I think we need to be pushed to be ready.”

AUDIO: Dave Zirin of Edge of Sports, 4/9/10

Posted in NCAA/College with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2010 by Helen

Dave Zirin from Edge of Sports hunts me down in Texas – post the San Antonio Final Four – and we do a quick hit on the 2010  tourney and the next season of college ball. Audio link here.

CIVIL WARS: Keeping the Recruiting Battles Clean – January, 2010

Posted in Coaches, NCAA/College with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2010 by Helen

Last September, the WBCA sent out an email noting they’d been inundated by calls concerning violations during the July “quiet period.” It encouraged coaches to report possible violations to Elizabeth Ramsey, Assistant Director of Enforcement and Liaison for women’s basketball so that the NCAA could do the necessary fact-finding investigations.

“I think we all want the game to be as clean as it can possibly be,” said Sherri Coale, Oklahoma coach and past president of the WBCA. “What we’re trying to do is be as pro-active as possible because, like most things in life, it begins small and snowballs into larger and larger things and, before you know it, there are a lot of major infractions that are skewing the playing field.”

But asking coaches about the severity of recruiting violations or the prevalence of negative recruiting in women’s basketball can be a bit like trying to pin down a ghost: there are feelings, but not a lot of concrete evidence.

“A lot of things that we hear are either told to us by a scholastic or summer league coach,” explained Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton. “It’s basically hearsay, so it’s difficult to prove.”

“It’s a shame, but I think there are a lot of violations,” admitted Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “A lot of people are concerned about the ethics in women’s basketball, but it seems like more and more people are cheating. I think the common perception is that they’re cheating because you can get away with it. And they’re getting away with it because nobody’s turning them in.”

“Some don’t want to say what’s going on,” agreed Kathleen Richey-Walton, WBCA board member and coach at Southwest Dekalb High School and with the AAU Georgia Metros. “When that takes place, then it’s sort of like, they SAID we can’t, but since no one else is really saying anything, it’s sort of like we can.”

“It’s our own fault,” added McGraw. “We’re sitting back and saying, ‘Oh, yeah, well nothing happens when somebody cheats.’ It’s up to us to be the ones who change that.”

CLEANLINESS BEGINS AT HOME

The first step a coach can take is to ensure their staff is totally engaged with their Compliance Office. “The way the NCAA enforcement program is set up,” said Chris Strobel, Director of Enforcement for secondary infractions, “each member institution has an affirmative obligation to monitor their athletics programs for compliance with NCAA rules and regulations and to self-report those violations when they’re discovered.” Over 95% of secondary infractions are self-reported, said Strobel.

“I flat out tell people that the enforcement staff and the Committee on Infractions (which handles major violations) really are more concerned about institutions that do not report ANY violations than they are about those that report several,” he explained. “The rule book is SO complicated, there are so many different scenarios out there, violations are probably happening. So, if you’re not reporting any, you’re either not catching them – which you’re supposed to be doing – or you’re not reporting them – which you are definitely supposed to be doing.”

SPEAKING ABOUT OTHERS
When it comes to addressing violations outside ones own institution, the WBCA is encouraging coaches to speak up – no matter if it’s a longtime friend or a distant acquaintance. “We don’t want to get into a situation where there is this discomfort with reporting violations,” said Coale. So, she tells her staff, “If you know of people who are doing that, don’t come back and complain to me. Tell me who it is and let’s go through the proper channels – proper channels being first and foremost, I notify the head coach. It can’t be hearsay. It can’t be, ‘I think.’ It has to be ‘I saw this,’ ‘I heard this,’ or ‘I was first person witness.’”

“In the few times in my career that we have observed any of that, I’ve called the head coach and it’s been taken care of immediately. Immediately.”

Even when the supporting evidence may be slim, said Stockton, taking action is always better than letting something fester or become fodder for the rumor mill. “I’ve been involved in something that I just couldn’t prove and we’ve still made calls to those schools. Of course, they couldn’t prove them either. But at least I felt like we informed the compliance people of those schools that there was something questionable in their program. At least we tried.”

DOES IT NEED TO BE FRONT PAGE NEWS?
Currently, while “public reprimand and censure” is a standard NCAA penalty for major violations, it is not a typical penalty for secondary violations. Strobel recognizes that this can lead to public misperceptions. “Some media article will come out reporting some sort of violation on an institution’s part, and then the rest of the world doesn’t hear anything more about it. So they assume, ‘Oh, the NCAA let them off,’ when that’s not true. We’ve processed it, we’ve penalized the institution, we’ve penalized the coach. It’s just not made public.”

The reason is that, along with privacy and legal concerns, secondary violations are considered inadvertent in nature and do not represent a significant competitive advantage. Not to mention, the sheer number of violations (3,916  reported in 2009) would make the public reporting process burdensome.

That being said, McGraw wonders how this “secrecy” impacts people’s willingness to speak up. “Even after you report something, you don’t know what happened. I think that’s the frustration of the coaches: ‘Well, I did turn her in. Nothing happened.’ I think if it was on the front page that this school was reported for these violations, the cheating would stop just a bit. Nobody wants to see their name on the front page for something like that.”

Ultimately, said Coale, “I think we as coaches have the responsibility to do our due diligence and then trust the NCAA to do their due diligence. There has to be that mutual respect or else it will continue to be a quagmire.”

TIP-TOE AROUND TEMPTATION

It’s impossible to ignore how the growth of the women’s basketball has influenced – at times adversely – the actions of coaches. “The support nationally of collegiate programs has changed people’s pressure to win,” acknowledged Stockton. “When you talk 15 years ago, coaches were fired, but not as they are now.” Additionally, she continued, “there’s more money in coach’s and assistant’s salaries. We have basketball operation people now. You used to have a Graduate Assistant. No one fought to get a GA position. No one cheated to get a GA position.”

“I think young coaches,” said Coale, “in particular those who are striving to climb the ladder, land that big recruit, and have that marquee name on their resume have to be real careful to not let the pressure of a particular situation guide their behavior. It’s all our responsibility, as ‘veterans’ of this profession, that they feel enough eyeballs and attention on their activity that the right decision is a little easier to make for them.”

Unfortunately, the decision is more challenging if an assistant finds their head coach turns a blind eye to that ethical line. As a former college coach, Richey-Walton’s understands the loyalty an assistant coach feels they owe their coach. “They’re the ones who got you started and, when you want to go to the next level, they’re going to be the ones doing the recommendations.” But she doesn’t expect an assistant to abdicate his or her own sense of what is right. She refers to the saying on the t-shirts her high school players wear: “Your character is determined by what you do when nobody is looking.”

“That’s the most important thing,” Richey-Walton stressed. “We’ve won a couple of championships at Southwest Academy and we can be proud of them because we know we didn’t have to cheat or cut corners to win. I don’t know how you can be proud of something that you know you didn’t do it the right way. Your career’s going to be over sooner than you realize, and when you look back on it, you want to be proud of what you did.”

CHOICES, DECISIONS AND CONSEQUENCES

One obvious reason for a coach not reporting violations or negative recruiting tactics is the fear of being blackballed. “It’s definitely a real issue out there for assistant coaches,” acknowledged Strobel, “especially the younger ones who are trying to make a name for themselves. I think that we’re actually seeing less of those types of cases. That’s not to say it’s still not out there, but with some of the cases we’ve had, the message that’s getting out there is that the Committee on Infractions understands the dilemma assistant coaches are in. But,” he added, “You’re sacrificing your career by being loyal to this individual who has violated the rules. So you need to really think about which what is more destructive to you in the long run.”

“We all have to make those decisions,” said Coale. “If they were easy we wouldn’t even be talking about it. It really doesn’t matter at the end of the day if someone is going to blackball you or some coach is going to view that as disloyal. What can YOU live with? What do YOU want to stand for? Those are personal decisions that people have to make and, for the good of our game, I think they are necessary decisions.”

“As a head coach,” Coale added, “I think it’s our responsibility to not promote people who don’t speak up. If doing it right enables you to advance, more people will do it right. It’s just like having a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes, the more comfortable you get in bringing those things to light.”

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