I know that it is really not a Kentucky issue, but Shabazz Muhammad was ruled ineligible by the NCAA last night and it is looking like he will never play college ball. It is unfortunate and it is being reported that part of the reason he is ineligible is because of visits take to Duke and UNC. And in this aspect, this does become a UK issue.
Lest we forget, Nerlens Noel was investigated because of unofficial visits he took to Louisville, of all places. And John Wall missed games because of the same reason.
And to me, it all seems to come down to accounting, unless I am naive about the whole process. In the case of Noel and Muhammad, the NCAA was concerned about WHO paid for the unofficial visits and where exactly the money came from. And to a lesser degree, the schools that arranged the unofficial needs to come under a bit of scrutiny as well.
Once again, is there not a simple fix for this? I am so sick of hearing about how the NCAA is overwhelmed and can not keep up with making sure that players are eligible in a timely manner. That is a crock. The NCAA is a multi billion dollar organization (and a tax exempt organization at that) that really is horribly managed and is not meeting the needs of its member schools. The NCAA taking till late October and November to clear (or not clear) players like Noel, Shabazz, and even Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin is an absolute shame.
In the case of the above players, EVERYONE knew that there would be eligibility issues months, if not years in advance. The NCAA actually contacted schools recruiting Muhammad to warn them that there were issues in advance. So if the NCAA knows this, why not fix it?
The issue comes down to unofficial visits and who pays for them usually. And I have a possible fix. Why can’t the NCAA set up an office with their billions to do nothing but track these unofficial visits.? Once a player announces an unofficial visit, they notify the NCAA and a 30-45 day window opens. The NCAA notes the date of the visit, sends the recruit a packet detailing what information they need on this visit. The players family then has the responsibility of detailing HOW this visit will be paid for and provides the necessary financial data to prove it. Once the visit is over, the family has to send the receipts/ credit card statements/ whatever to prove that is how it was paid for. If this is not provided 15 days after the visit, the visit is red-flagged and goes to another department.
This will not curb cheating of course. But it will set a precedent on how these visits are being paid for and can help to red flag any shady trends that may be going on. I am assuming that the NCAA pours over the family financial records when they investigate. Make some of this have to be done before an unofficial visit as well to show if the family has the means to makes these visits. Granted, not every player is going to take unofficial visits because they simply can not afford it. But that seems to be where a lot of these eligibility problems stem from. So by creating a department to focus soley on that, you catch things a lot earlier and detect potential red flags.
In addition, it can uncover possible trends at the schools where these visits are being taken. We know that the Shabazz unofficial to Duke was in question. What if detailing unofficials like this showed that 4-5 other players had questionable unofficials to Duke as well? That could pinpoint the origin of the problem rather than slapping a penalty on whatever school the player decides to go to. In short, you have to police and make these “unofficial visits” somewhat official. Or it continues to be the wild, wild west.
Is it a simple fix? Yes? Childlike simple. But it seems that the NCAA does not have something this simple in place. And for an organization as powerful and with the resources the NCAA has, that is just inexcusable.