Recently in Wayne Box Miller Category
OK, much has been made of this free agent move LeBron James made and I just don't get the uproar but I understand to some degree fans feeling lost because Cleveland will return to its normal state of ineptness.
But the reason I brought it up in this column is I've always felt it unfair in college that coaches can come and go but players can't, especially after NCAA rules violations. Typically coaches know the hammer is coming and resign or take another job under the heading of opportunity. Meanwhile the school and players are left with memories and probation. So I know the first push back on this is that too many players would be bouncing around but there could be penalties for the second and third move that are heavy and take away a year of eligibility. I don't know what utopia looks like but I'm always taken back to Gale Catlett who left UC in probation while he headed to West Virginia to start anew.
If players have to stay then let the coach take the probation with him or at least split the penalties between the school and the outgoing coach. If Pete Carroll or any other coach heads to the pros they should be fined for thier part in the period in question. If someone tries to tell me Pete Carroll didn't know what was going on at USC, I'll show you a loyal fan of his or his cousin. His ascension into the pros was very timely considering he'd been there before and didn't inherit a playoff caliber team but just a lot of cash. So why would you give up a great "thing" at USC to to to Seattle? because he's the fugitive and the NCAA was hot on his trail. Staying one step ahead of the posse is a saying in coaching and this was evidence of such. Another example is John Calipari who had NO IDEA what was going on at Memphis when he was there; maybe he didn't but he had to know 1 plus 1 will always equal 2 much coincidence.
I hope one day the NCAA says coach if you're the one who causes the probation, penalties will follow you wherever you land. I wonder how many would be quick to bolt? or more important, how many schools would be quick to make the offer knowing the baggage flies free. It's a shame from a college player and parents point of view that you get recruited by a coach who says I'm going to be here for your son's entire college career knowing if a big school or big money recruits him, he will do what's best for him and his family. Freedom to choose has its limits in college sports when it comes to players, not to coaches and schools and that just doesn't seem right. Once a school gets a player...game over unless the coach or schools grants him a release from his committment. How cool would it be if the coach had to get his release from the players as well?
Willie Mays like so many other sports pioneers seem to fall by the wayside because we don't keep their stories in the forefront. It got me to thinking about pioneers at UC; players of color who had to endure internal as well as external discrimination. In some cases women too. As we think of the success of modern day players at the University let us not forget the ones who dared to come here when it may not have been entirely encouraged. They endured the stares, glares and cowardly threats but chose to stay in the heat of the battle. And what is their reward? I don't think its to be recognized for what they did, I think their reward should be, to know they won't be forgotten as a piece of the equality puzzle.
At the luncheon I saw Chuck Harmon in his wheelchair smiling; others limping and yet others just struggling to "be there". As I get older I realize I'm fortunate that I got to see Muhammad Ali in his prime; Oscar Robertson, Frank Robinson, Jim Brown, John Carlos, Tommie Smith and others at their best. I pass along the stories to the youngsters who proclaim modern day superstars as the pinnacle of the sport without doing their homework. But its our job, those of us who know, to educate and encourage them to look back and read.
So let me take a moment to thank all pioneers who entered the University of Cincinnati when it wasn't comfortable to do so. You were sent here knowingly or unknowingly on a spiritual journey and I'm sure you wondered at times why; Well Mardy Gilyard is why; Lance Stephenson is why and even Antione Drakeford is why. When doors are opened, barriers broken down and opportunities seized, the flood follows the open gates. And young men and women of color and women in general can get a scholarship based on their grades and skills, realizing a quality education in the process.
With the minority enrollment at 14.4% (according to the University's web site) it is working; the bigger question is are the student athletes working? on and off the field. THAT would be the biggest payback they could give the pioneers who said give us a chance...
That's the way I see it sitting in The Box Seat...