Providence basketball coach Kim English has message for teams trying to lure his players away

Kim English said the quiet part out loud.

His fiery social media post late Tuesday night felt like a fitting end to this latest round of transfer portal intrigue. That window was due to slam shut Wednesday, with no more basketball players eligible to enter before the 2024-25 season.

Providence College’s men’s coach made some not-so-veiled references to alleged tampering with members of his expected roster for next year. The Friars did their work early in this current cycle, securing four commitments — they were thought to be done with additions and subtractions well ahead of time. It appears there might have been some late attempts to lure at least one of their players into further gauging his value on the open market.

“Just call me and [let me know] if you want to recruit our players,” English said. “Leave them and their families alone. Call me. I’ll see if they want to play for your programs.”

More: What will next season's Providence basketball team look like? An early look at the Friars.

Friars head coach Kim English has a message for rival coaches trying to contact his players.
Friars head coach Kim English has a message for rival coaches trying to contact his players.

English didn’t mention a specific name of any rival coach who might have made contact. He also didn’t reveal which Providence returners or newcomers might have been targeted. Whether or not he eventually goes public with that information isn’t the point here.

This process is begging for meaningful reform. The NCAA obstructed and deflected and denied for years until getting bounced out of state and federal court in a series of embarrassing defeats. What’s become obvious over time — whatever version of amateurism they hoped to enforce while profiting exponentially has been shattered.

What remains? Anarchy, in part. Administrators and coaches are standing on the rulebook equivalent of quicksand and it can shift at any moment. Think about all that’s changed in the recruiting landscape over the past five years — the next five could lead us to an equally unrecognizable place.

Let’s start with what we’ve always known to be fact and work from there. That involves bringing the truth into the open and adjusting to it.

∎Stop pretending this was ever fair.

Legacy brands have always attracted the most talent one way or another. Surreptitious spending to bring in recruits has been rumored longer than cable television has existed — we're verging on a second generation of internet streaming. Now it’s just closer to the surface through the establishment of name, image and likeness collectives.

Smaller schools hire a game-changing coach? They’ve just about always been whisked away to bigger jobs with more resources on hand. Those personalities and their new homes were the only ones allowed to openly profit — that's very clearly changed.

More: 7-foot center Christ Essandoko commits to Providence basketball for a second time.

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The system has never favored low majors. It’s rarely worked in the long run for mid-majors. It occasionally doesn’t satisfy some high majors. Accept it or adapt to it creatively to change your circumstances — there aren’t many other choices.

∎Players have always been paid in some way, shape or form — just not with cash that was publicly acknowledged.

Palatial on-campus facilities, private travel, ready access to apparel, sports-specific academic considerations and exposure across wider media platforms — those are all forms of currency. Actual funds in bank accounts have now either augmented or replaced those perks. Don’t complain about whether another school offered more to recruits on your list or enticed them with a different financial opportunity — the current rules allow you to meet or exceed the price.

Can’t do it? That’s really nothing different. It's just taken on a different form.

∎Want your administration and its boosters to take back some leverage? Offer something in return — a good-faith employment model.

Grant athletes the benefits that come with unionized labor. Access to quality health care, limits on their working hours, guarantees when it comes to standard or minimum compensation — those should be the baselines. Replace an elective course with something mandatory that teaches financial literacy.

Revenue sharing is about to be approved by the NCAA. That will require some widespread disclosure, and it should be adopted on an individual basis as well through contracts. Multiyear deals, mutual options to extend, buyouts — publicize what athletes take home in NIL to create a fair, representative market in which to do business.

How many of those entries into the portal are chasing a payday that was never there? How many coaches and collectives have bid against a suitor and a number that never existed? Add some transparency to those conversations. Taking away the secrecy could help blunt the edge both sides feel entering what is, at its core, a negotiation.

More: Providence basketball lands another transfer recruit; who is he?

∎Don’t start any discussion about this by referencing “regular students.”

Athletes were always going to be increasingly separated from their peers as college sports became bigger business. Their version of professional development is something different entirely.

A strictly academic pursuit seeks progress toward an end point — a graduation. An average student likely wouldn’t prefer, or be able to personally afford, a certain number of transfers or interruptions in a college career. Their goal is to earn a degree that will help them secure their own financial futures after receiving it.

Players now have a legal chance to start earning those dollars ahead of time. Some of them have triggered COVID fifth years via blanket waiver to stay in college and profit — it's antithetical to a standard academic mission. They’re not changing schools or plotting a course of study based on what we’ve come to think of as the norm.

∎None of this activity should be taking place while any teams are still playing.

Recruiting your next roster while coaching in an NCAA Tournament is nonsense. Zoom calls in conjunction with film sessions at the Final Four? Stop it. Those are the most important games of the season. A staff and their players should be able to devote complete attention to them.

Divide the recruiting calendar more clearly to reduce overlap. Create a hard-and-fast window for contact to take place — a month between any national championship game and the close of the portal should be enough to decide whether or not to enter. Programs that have fallen short of that ultimate stage can use the time to organize their own roster or NIL situations, and those who survive into April can devote full attention to the present.

On X: @BillKoch25

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Providence coach Kim English to rival coaches: Leave my players alone