The greatest onslaught of email in our six-month history, more than 2,500 pieces this week. Many dealt with the Corey Maggette case at Duke, with thankful notes from fans of fair play and hateful notes from fans of Duke. I love them all. As always, my responses are in italics.
Now on to the People's Voice. ...
COREY MAGGETTE (March 31: "Does the NCAA play favorites?")
Thank you for your well-written article regarding the Duke/Maggette fiasco. You presented the facts in an objective manner as well as added some of your own commentary. There's no question the NCAA is giving Duke and Coach K special treatment here. They don't want to tarnish the otherwise squeaky-clean image of the Dukies.
For those of us that believe that Duke is a four-letter word that should be banned by the FCC, I wish the NCAA would resolve this objectively with a fine and removal of wins equivalent to past cases (Michigan, Kentucky, UMass, etc.).
I can already hear the wussy Duke fans crying about your article, Dan. Wah, wah, wah. Shut up and take your medicine, Dukies! Now I'm going to go debate this issue further over a beer at Coogan's, my favorite local bar.
New York, N.Y.
"Maggette took his money before he was enrolled at the school. Crudup and Camby took them while in college."
Those are your words directly from your article. Let's take it a step further – so, hypothetically, if Maggette were to receive $100 when he was 10 years old from an "agent" who saw something special in him that early on ... Maggette eventually goes on to sign with Duke. Of course, Duke is at fault, right? NCAA should strip Duke of its 1999 national championship appearance, right? A person would have to be insane to agree.
Los Angeles, Calif.
The interesting thing about the reaction to the article I wrote is that at no point did I ever, ever advocate that Duke should be found guilty. Not once. All I said was that by not even ruling on the case for four years the NCAA was practicing selective enforcement of its rules. Judging by the appalled reaction of many Duke alums, I think the university might consider adding reading comprehension to its core graduation requirements.
I would just like to personally thank you for your recent article regarding the NCAA playing favorites. I feel that the business-political mode of operations the NCAA utilizes is unquestionably bad for college sports, and college athletes. It seems rather obvious to me that while investigating specific cases of violations the NCAA turns its back on some programs while barnstorming others.
Many organizations other than the NCAA operate under this same policy and many of them are guilty of the same political maneuvers. The problem that occurs when this happens is one of mistrust from other organizations within the larger organization. I believe that other institutions that have been lambasted by the NCAA (such as Missouri and Minnesota) have a valid grievance due to political favoritism, and I am glad that you are voicing your concern with this issue.
If a Duke player had played rec league games with 40 year olds (while not even enrolled) they would not have received the 12-game suspension that Billy Edelin did last year for Syracuse.
You laid out the facts in stark fashion and exposed the underside of the NCAA's enforcement problems with "golden" institutions like Duke. It is likely that there has been no determination in this one because the NCAA would either have to (1) tarnish the hallowed Dukies or (2) set a precedent that players can be paid $$ before they sign with the school and not impact their eligibility so long as the coaches and school were not implicated. Why pick your poison if you can make some $$ by dodging the issue?
Compare the NCAA's actions (with Duke) to the stripping of Hawaii's national championship in volleyball! Very similar circumstances, except that Hawaii's player had done nothing wrong at all under the guidelines that were in place at the time. He never even took payments. He only played with a pro team in Europe. After the championship the NCAA "clarified" (or reinterpreted) the guidelines retroactively in order to find fault and take away the championship.
Think they'd do that with Duke?
Finally, someone has the courage to say the "emperor" (or the "Duke," pun intended) has no clothing. After watching "The Passion of Duhon" for the last three weeks, I was almost ready to boycott the Final Four.
Your article on Corey Maggette reminded me of the line attributed to the legendary Abe Lemons, who is said to have stated "The NCAA is so pissed off at Kentucky and Michigan that they have placed Cleveland State on probation for two more years."
This week's e-mail should be fun to watch ... assuming the Cameron Crazies' response to your article on Corey Maggette doesn't permanently disable your email server.
It's kind of like watching the teasing between my 15-year-old and 12-year-old escalate, except I don't have to step in and tell you to stop. That makes it waaaaaaay more fun.
You mean stuff like this . . .
We can't help you didn't have the money to go to Duke. Just hate in silence.
You're just jealous you didn't get into Duke.
You're hateful screed is typical for someone incapable of receiving a Duke education.
Are you serious? Are you really a sportswriter or are you a figment of someone's imagination?
A figment of someone's imagination? Are you serious?
Why are you bringing up this story now during NCAA tourney time? Especially at a time when anti-Duke basketball sentiment is so high.
Is it the following:
A) You are jealous of the success of our program.
B) Bitter because you're bracket fell apart due to choice A.
C) Bitter because you attended a school that was suspended for its infractions.
D) Just in the mood to add more fuel to fire for the "anti-Duke" movement.
While I think you present a compelling argument I feel that the time of your remarks are rather unusual and a bit suspect. It's been four long years since this story occurred. Since then we have gone on to win the tourney back in 2001 and had two Sweet 16 runs. You have had plenty of time to report on these infractions. Yet you decided not to report this until the brink of another Final Four appearance.
I feel that you published this article now in an effort to help increase anti-Duke resentment before our bout with UConn. As a reporter you realize that timing of a story can affect its impact. Thus I question again why you bring this up now?
Johnson City, Tenn.
How about E) It was a pertinent and interesting story, one that generated huge interest and outcry throughout the country.
It even caused the NCAA to get a stooge journalist to ask a planted question at Myles Brand's annual state of the game press conference. Brand interrupted his speech to bring up David Price of the enforcement staff who botched the question (he had all the dates wrong) and then tried to claim the NCAA had ruled on it "months ago," even though on Tuesday both the NCAA itself and the Duke vice president in charge of the case said there had been no ruling.
I understand some fans always think there is some underlying motive behind these things but there isn't. I have and will continue in the future to write glowing stories about Duke. This was about the NCAA. Duke was just an example. And seriously, do you really think I got my bracket messed up and got so angry that I decided to write about the NCAA's history of selective enforcement?
Thank you Dan for having the nerve to write a fantastic article about Duke and the NCAA. You may not get a seat at Cameron Indoor, but you've certainly said what many college basketball fans have long thought that preferential treatment exists in the NCAA. ESPN and others would not touch this story. Thanks for taking the risk of doing so.
If there is any "risk" it doesn't enter my thought process. Besides, my dealings with Duke have found the people there are way too professional to ban me from Cameron Indoor or pull some other bush-league maneuver like that. But if they do, who cares?
SHOE DEALS (March 29: "No business in shoe business")
How long has Adidas been paying ND for the human billboards? I've been watching Irish football as long as I can remember (at least 15 years), and they've always had the three stripes on the jerseys. One of these days, Touchdown Jesus is gonna be wearing a pair of Adidas shoes.
The publicity these companies are getting from schools is insane lately. The players don't get paid, yet they strut around displaying the company's logo. The coaches are just as bad, but at least they get some compensation for it. And if Reebok needs a school to mooch off of, why not Colorado? I can see the parties now: "And these girls were paid for by the fine people at Reebok."
BRACKETTVILLE, TEXAS (April 1: "What's in a name?")
Your writing in the Brackettville story was downright entertaining. You should consider working on a novel. Your style in that story reminds me of David Brown, a Pittsburgh journalist (now editor for the PP Review) who could make a school board meeting story into a novelette.
A small town, full of character (or should I say characters!). It was so refreshing to know that some of us aren't totally consumed by the Final Four! Like the mayor, I'll never forget the report of the sandwich with ONE bite taken out of it!
Dan, you panned for gold in Texas, and struck it rich with this story!
GEORGIA TECH (April 4: "Hewitt belongs in this coaching quartet")
I commend you on your article. I am a Georgia Tech grad and supporter and was worried about Hewitt at first; but his coaching resume, especially the great things he did at Siena, and his work with Tech basketball has definitely set my mind at ease.
Regarding your article on Paul Hewitt, I grew up in Westbury and was two years ahead of Paul. He was a good guy 25 years ago as well. It is great to see good things happen to good people.
I played softball with his brother, Mike, for a few years, and he also falls into the good guy category. Superb upbringing. In your follow-up, I would suggest a few thanks from the people at Georgia Tech sent out to Mr. and Mrs. Hewitt.
You do realize, don't you, that every program you wrote a complimentary article about during the tournament lost its next game? You could market that, call it the "Wetzel Factor" and have schools pay you to not write about them (plus a nice commission for myself).
This is a fine idea. Paid to NOT write.
COACHES SUTTON, IBA (April 2: "Stillwater is steeped in hoops tradition")
A few weeks ago I sent you a long and really critical diatribe about a column you wrote on Bob Knight and the Battle of the Salad Bar. I don't regret that. However, this column on Hank Iba and Eddie Sutton and OSU makes up for it. I loved it.
Thanks for the history lesson and the reminder that basketball is really a simple game of teamwork, under all the flash and crap of today's players.
I thought I would tell you how much I enjoyed reading your article about Coach Iba and Coach Eddie Sutton for Oklahoma State. It was classy and appropriate to honor such great figures and mentors of college basketball players.
The game will be the game, but win or lose it is much more interesting to read about the history involved versus speculations on the outcome of the game.
JIM CALHOUN (April 6: "Calhoun worked hard at making it look easy")
Great article. It is refreshing to see that someone would not take away Calhoun's moment. I am in NO WAY a UConn fan nor a Jim Calhoun fan, but I do think that he is an amazing recruiter and coach, a deadly combination in college basketball. It is great to see someone give him and his team much-deserved respect.
DIANA TAURASI (April 7: "Taurasi is the rocky topper")
Thank you for the great story about Diana Taurasi and the UConn women. You are correct, besides being a great talent, her winning style helped rewrite women's basketball history. We'll miss "D" here in Connecticut.
West Hartford, Conn.
Do you have any idea how dominant the Vols will be? They really had an average team this year; next year look out. Taurasi was excellent; give her her due. But Tennessee has the potential with the talent they have coming next year to have the female LeBron James (Candace Parker) and possibly two other players with the talent of Taurasi – now that's scary. We'll see how close Geno is to ol' Pat about four years from now. Prediction: She'll be closer to the legend Wooden in four years than Geno is to her right now!
In spite of the talent that Diana Taurasi has, do you think her cocky attitude is what women's basketball should be about?
Her comments about wanting to be able to belt out bad words while on the court I just think that we are overlooking the fact that younger basketball wannabes will take on that attitude. I don't think women's basketball is ready for that. Do you?
All I know is that women's basketball is better and more popular today than four years ago because of Taurasi.