Relaxed relationship rules are encouraging NCAA programs to steal the best prep coaches

Cameron Smith
April 16, 2013

There are a number of new recruiting rules that should have a profound effect on how colleges are able to connect with athletes in the future. While most press attention has focused on the ability of coaches to connect with athletes via phone and social media much more frequently, there’s a more insidious change that could have an even larger impact on the future of college basketball and football.

New UCLA leader Steve Alford is among the top NCAA coaches to hire top prep coaches — Getty
New UCLA leader Steve Alford is among the top NCAA coaches to hire top prep coaches — Getty

As of now, the previous disincentives intended to keep colleges from hiring top prep coaches as a means of landing top recruits are gone. And as a result, some of the nation’s most impressive high school basketball coaches are becoming the nation’s newest assistant college basketball coaches.

Specifically, two of the nation’s most notable coaches departed to join collegiate staffs in the past two weeks alone. First, new UCLA coach Steve Alford hired Indianapolis (In.) Park Tudor High coach Ed Schilling as one of his assistants with the Bruins. The connection between Alford and Schilling is as simple as their geographic background; both Alford and Schilling grew up in Indiana.

The connection between Duncanville (Tx.) High coach Danny Henderson and Boise State is significantly more tenuous. The coach, who previously molded superstar Marcus Smart as the coach at Flower Mound (Tx.) Marcus High, jumped at the chance to become Boise State’s newest assistant coach when he predecessor with the Broncos, Dave Wojcik, was named the new head coach at San Jose State.

The shift from prep hoops to college is a notable one because of the ethical issues it raises. While no one can fault a longtime high school coach for trying to get ahead, any advantage they receive in trying to bring their former charges on board at their new schools would be seen as outside the bounds of appropriate contact and conduct.

Perhaps that’s why the NCAA is due for a new look at putting recruiting restrictions on former high school coaches and their former prep programs, at least for a year or so.

There has been no word about whether the NCAA would consider such a move, though an influx of Duncanville stars to the likes of Boise State would almost certainly be a significant enough flag to stir some kind of action.

There’s no telling if that will follow Henderson’s move, though one thing is certain: If they do, they better be ready to bundle up the way Henderson will have to.

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