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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kansas' Bill Self commits a violation meeting with John Wall

More "accidental" recruiting slip-ups, this time from a coach trying to get in with John Wall.

From the Springfield, MO News-Leader, via Deadspin, via the ACC Sports Journal:


Best Watergate-like moment: Like us reporters normally do when seeking interviews, we wait outside locker rooms for players and coaches to come out. Since there weren't enough locker rooms to hold all eight teams, some were placed back at Hammons Student Center.

Yes, it's a haul from JQH to HSC, so I was the only one hanging out. There was no accidental foot traffic.

That's what was so curious when Kansas coach Bill Self came rolling through. I was puzzled because it's an evaluation period in the NCAA's eyes, meaning coaches and recruits can have no contact, except for an exchange of greetings.

Of course, Wall is the top uncommitted recruit. Self had to know I was a reporter and even said hello to me.

I just thought he'd stand there, maybe even wave to Wall to let him know he was there. Instead, when the Holy Rams poured out of the locker room, Self was excited:

Self: "Johnny, great win man. You really played well."

Wall: "Thanks."

Self: "I'm not supposed to be talking to you, and you know that, but I just wanted to tell you that was a great win."

Then Self vanished.

I called Missouri State NCAA compliance officer Kyle Yates, curious of Self's behavior. Yates insisted what Self did was wrong, but not unique, as I suspected.

"(He) definitely shouldn't have done that, but it's not uncommon," Yates said. "If he would have sat him down and had a conversation, that would have been a big deal."

Still, it was no accident he was there in that isolated location. And Memphis coaches John Calipari and Orlando Antigua didn't do it either.

John Wall better be LeBron, KG and Kobe all rolled into one to warrant this kind of blatant rules violation. Kansas to date has never really been a frontrunner in the JW sweepstakes, and yet here is Self, basically putting his job and team on the line, trying to get a word in--if ever so briefly--with Wall.

That Self admits, in the moment, that he wasn't supposed to be there is the kicker. How more blatant can one be about flaunting the law? This, of course, was no accident, despite what Self will tell you about how he wanted to just meet with the coaches after the game. This was calculated, as was Duke assistant coach Chris Collins' "accidental" appearance at the GSK Holiday Invite back in December in which Ryan Kelly--one of Duke's most coveted recruits--was participating. No one "forgets" when the evaluation periods end and begin, especially not at Duke or Kansas.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this. If this is brushed aside, much like the Reggie Bush/USC incident appears to have been, it speaks further to the uneven playing field with which certain programs know they can operate. The NCAA knows who butters their bread in basketball and football, and they seem very, very reluctant to upset the apple cart with respect to these programs.

Expect nothing to come of this more than an "aww, shucks, we'll remember next time" from the Kansas coaching staff.

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