Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not Quite St. Paul....

But not that bad either, is it?

Reaction has rolled in from all parts of the media/blogosphere. Everyone has their takes. I thought Jim Moore nailed it pretty good at the P-I. And reading through some of your comments, you obviously have an opinion on the violations. GREAT takes yesterday by the way. Some clearly of the over-reaction type before all the details were released, but some who were perfect. But what else is there to say?

I don't think we want to get too deep into it, do we? I mean stories are everywhere with the full, non-juicy details. But in a nutshell, after digesting it all, this is what we are left with:

1) Some players practiced when they shouldn't have.
2) Some graduate/student assistant coaches coached when they shouldn't have.
3) Some players who shouldn't have been practicing were given meals and accommodations in lovely Cheney.

That's pretty much it.

Now, the logical question is, WHY did it happen? And what does it mean for what we care about here, in coach Wulff and WSU?

First, the why. Ok, there are two big reasons why:

1) EWU didn't have a compliance officer, nor did they really give enough attention to what was going on. They were warned by the NCAA in the past over some transgressions in regards to their men's hoops team, and they failed to act accordingly. Let's face it, the penalties are heaped upon EWU for a reason.

2) The other reason is Paul Wulff did what he could do to keep things in check, but clearly, he couldn't manage everything.

Now as Jim Moore said, that isn't a great excuse. There are other low-budget Big Sky schools that haven't gotten into this kind of trouble with the ugly lack of institutional control tagged to their program. But let's realize one very important thing here. Of all the have-nots, of all the low budget schools, EWU has the smallest budget in the Big Sky. PERIOD. One of the smallest in the country if you want to know the truth. Money isn't everything, but, when you don't have the financial wherewithal to properly staff, well, you will get situations like this. There just wasn't a support system in place to look over the shoulder of Paul Wulff on every thing, big and small, that was going on. And it's clear now that so much was heaped onto the shoulders of coach Wulff, that the whole thing was almost SET UP TO FAIL at some point, wasn't it? In looking over some of the things that happened, and the lack of attention to the details, I mean how long can you let your coaches go basically unchecked before some type of oversight was going to happen? Wasn't it just a matter of time before something like this was going to happen, whether it was with the EWU hoops program, football program, etc?

Don't take my word for it. Our good friend PTOWNCOUG weighed in with comments yesterday. PTown is a former compliance employee at WSU, and is now an attorney. Who better to get a read on the situation than someone who has actually "walked the walk"?

I worked at Wazzu's compliance office and now am a lawyer. NCAA compliance is not an easy gig, I can tell you that. WSU is special as it puts a emphasis on compliance due to mainly the baseball issues that stemmed from Bobo's era, I believe.

I have been to other institutions and seen first hand their lack of control by the compliance office. Think about the # of athletes and you have a couple of staff people overseeing all of them and the minute details of when someone can start practicing, etc.

I thought about applying to EWU to work in their compliance office, but decided not to because they are a small univ without the funding to have enough personnel in place to look at everything.

I feel for them, but if NCAA says it is an institutional thing, then I believe them and can understand how this really doesn't fall too much on the shoulders of the coach with maybe the exception of having too many coaches on staff because a coach should know how many coaches he is allowed.

Well put.

I believe this could have been much, much, MUCH worse. When the story first broke yesterday, I held my breath waiting for the full extent of the details. I mean when you hear NCAA violations, I don't know about you but I picture Barry Switzer style, drugs, guns, cash falling out of envelopes and hundred-dollar handshakes. But this was nothing of the sort. With very little compliance support in place, the program could have spiraled completely out of control. Think of how easy it would have been for Wulff to get away with doing anything and everything he wanted to in that environment. We could be talking about a whole different area here, of recruiting violations, players way out of line, horrible academics, and of course, losing on the field. NONE of that happened with Wulff at EWU.

And let's also realize the situation today at WSU. There is little doubt that the compliance and support systems are absolutely in place in Pullman. These kinds of transgressions just won't happen with this program.

So let's not freak out. Were mistakes made? Yes. Were they made in a very loose environment? Yes. Were they made to gain a competitive edge of some kind? NOT REALLY. Are these mistakes going to follow Wulff at WSU?? I DOUBT IT!

Enjoy your day, and GO COUGS!


Anonymous said...

Did you hear about Griffey?

Paul Wulff

Logan said...

After reading Wulff's fully transcribed conference call (from vince grippi) i'm not as upset or embarrassed about this whole situation. If his explanations are completely true and accurate, then i can understand how it happened. It's also nice to know that WSU has a great compliance office that EWU didn't have to catch these things so this situation doesn't arise again in the future. It also helps my opinion of him that he brought this to the attention of NCAA people and to Jim Sterk in his interview for the WSU job. He wasn't trying to hide anything from anyone.

i don't believe Wulff is a bad guy or negligent in his duties, just someone who couldn't keep track of everything (that he shouldnt have had to do in the first place).

kaddy said...

Blanchette had some good blog comments - when you dig in, these all have good explanations. For example, a staffer that makes $5K a year and works two others jobs to pay the rent, but was considered a coach because he helped around the office. Not completely excusable, of course, but there is much more to it.

I have no problems with Wulff, and am glad he's our coach.

The NCAA is funny - you have OJ Mayo telling anyone that will listen that he was paid $30,000 to play for USC, yet nothing ever happens.