Recruiting practices take spotlight

Just last week SFN highlighted the difference between local recruiting budgets in this well-received entry.

Almost simultaneously, the University of Tennessee’s football program came under scrutiny for the use of its Hostess Program to ‘lure’ recruits to the University. We started talking about the news in real time in this thread on our message boards. As with most of our threads, I was a lot smarter about the topic when I finished reading through it. Thanks to the community for surfing the web, researching, and posting links and relevant information from a host of sources!

The anecdotal story about the ‘irony’ of this story breaking on a national scale out of Knoxville, Tennessee —

In 1985 through 1987 a friend of mine was recruited to play basketball at many ACC and SEC schools – including Jim Valvano’s NC State program and the University of Tennessee. He wasn’t as good as he thought he was, but was impressive ‘athletically’ on the court and I’m sure that the college coaches thought they could mold him into something better than they really could. I loved speaking with him about the recruiting process, especially since the Wolfpack was recruiting him.

Surprise, surprise…guess the focal point of the stories about his trip to Tennessee? That’s right – girls, girls, girls. This was in 1986! Not 2009. My buddy and teammate came back from his trip to Knoxville with a ‘permagrin’ on his face and said there was no way he couldn’t go to UT. Said he was set up with girls during the weekend and it was the greatest thing in the world. Said that the school would even set up recruits’ friends when they visited. He couldn’t stop talking about it.

It was at that point where I started learning more about the ‘truth’ of college athletics and started learning the ‘real stories’ of recruiting and that different schools had reputations for certain ‘niches’ of what/how they could/did offer certain benefits to players. I’m not saying that the practices from Tennessee are/were not replicated and utilized by dozens of other schools; I just found it particularly interesting that UT has been particularly famous for this stuff for such an extended amount of time.

Continuing on that theme, The Big Lead posted a couple of entries this weekend that are very enjoyable for long-time fans.

In the first entry focused on the 1980s, Big Lead highlights a, “very interesting article from the SI archives about college football recruiting and hostesses. The article is from all the way back in August of 1987 and its called “Persuasive Hostesses Help Colleges Lasso Top Prospects.” The main characters in this story are the University of Florida’s Gator Getters. Also mentioned are the Hawk Hunters, Bengal Babes, Hurricane Honeys, Catamount Kittens, Sweet Carolines, Tigerettes and the Garnet and Gold.” The Big Lead’s comments and the SI article are very interesting.

Speaking of the Sweet Carolines from the University of North Carolina — I was channel surfing past Pardon the Interruption on ESPN last week and Tony Kornheiser was discussing the ‘Hostess-gate’ and referenced that the “Sweet Carolines” started it all in the 1950s/1960s. I once dated a young lady whose father played football at UNC-CH in the early 1970s who shared that the ‘enticement’ of the Sweet Carolines was a great complement to the cash and other benefits that Bill Dooley’s program provided.

I felt like the cat who swallowed the canary when he made comments about receiving pay while playing at Carolina, and then I realized that everybody knows and nobody cares. If the local media or NCAA cared, then the Tarheel program could have never survived Lawrence Taylor autobiography of the mid-to-late 1980s. Then I realized that I better hold my breath because the more that Carolina made the NCAA mad, the more NC State’s program better watch out for retribution!

The Big Lead followed its hostess retrospective with “More Old School Recruiting” from the SI Archives in NC State’s glory years, 1974.

I’m aware there are no surprises here, but I’m fascinated by how frank everyone was back then.

“This year’s top high school basketball prospect, Moses Malone from Petersburg, Va., has been offered cars, a campus apartment and money.”

Malone signed a letter of intent to play at Maryland before going into the ABA. I wonder what Lefty Driesell offered him to actually get him to sign.

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34 Responses to Recruiting practices take spotlight

  1. GAWolf 12/14/2009 at 9:51 AM #

    I saw more cash and cars mysteriously appear to the benefit of athletes at UGA in the 90’s than you could ever imagine. The cars were typically “leased” for next to nothing, and the money appeared in many shapes… including but not limited to blank envelopes in players’ school mail boxes.

    Of course, it’s also been mentioned to me why some players favored particular coordinators over others here at NC State many years ago. It happens. Truthfully, I’m all for giving the kids a stipend to help eliminate the under the table, covert giving that has gone wild.

    But then again… here’s an article from the TBJ last week saying NC State has at least pondered the idea of eliminating sports in the current financial crisis. Appropriately, ADA Moose speaks of Title IX and how it makes doing ANYTHING in an athletic department that much more tricky… including dealing with a financial crunch.

    Speaking of Title IX, I saw women in the newly created women’s soccer program, an effort by UGA to comply with Title IX, receive some of those aforementioned “mystery envelopes” in Athens. Women’s soccer…. crazy.

  2. StateFans 12/14/2009 at 10:11 AM #

    I think everyone is pretty familiar with the amazing cars and ‘leases’ that the likes of Antawn Jamison and the Tar heels of the 1990s had. Don’t know how they run their car programs now.

  3. wolfpackdawg 12/14/2009 at 10:27 AM #

    Charles Shackleford drove a little Subaru XT when I was in school. Surely the school would have provided something bigger than that? 🙂

  4. NCSU CPA 12/14/2009 at 10:32 AM #

    When I was at State we had a program called “Stately Ladies” I had a couple of friends who were in it and they basically hung out with recruits at the football games and pre game festivities. Here’s a link from where the faculty senate discussed the program: Just search for stately ladies.

  5. pyejam 12/14/2009 at 10:33 AM #

    State has some athletes with some pretty nice cars too. Lets not fool ourselves…

    SFN: LOL! Who are they?

  6. Pano Fasoulas 12/14/2009 at 10:35 AM #

    Let’s not forget Chucky Brown’s comment after the “Personal Fouls” book came to light.

    “I didn’t get no car. I didn’t get no money. Whoever stole my car, I wish they’d give it back.”

    I saw that on TV. Lauged my butt off. So, was Chucky just trying to throw the scent off? Or, were we just that cheap?

  7. wolfpackdawg 12/14/2009 at 11:03 AM #

    Chucky was and is the man. Loved seeing him around campus during my undergrad days.

  8. Wolf74 12/14/2009 at 12:15 PM #

    The Tarheels are legendary for their “benefits” to recruits and players. From Al Woods “job” at the local car dealership to Taylor’s book. It goes on in every sport. A friend of my son, with a 90+ fastball, came back from a visit in baseball. Called my son and started going over the list of free stuff he had just been given – all illegal by NCAA rules. He later signed with them.

    But remember, they run the model program for all to follow – if you have enough money.

  9. pyejam 12/14/2009 at 12:18 PM #

    I’ve seen a few brand new dodge chargers with some pretty nice lookin rims when they role up to parties

  10. ncsufan13 12/14/2009 at 12:28 PM #

    “But remember, they run the model program for all to follow – if you have enough money.”

    The ACC commissioner and the head of the university system are both UNC alums. You don’t need money when you’ve already got your minions in the important jobs.

  11. GAWolf 12/14/2009 at 1:13 PM #

    Not all athletes are destitute or come from meager backgrounds, pyejam. I’ve ridden by the Murphy Center during practices. The nicest car I’ve ever seen out there, besides Mario’s ride, was a jeep.

    ALso, Jeremy Hyatt used to walk all over town. We called him “the Nomad” because we saw him walking miles and miles from campus one day in addition to him regularly beating feet across campus.

  12. packplantpath 12/14/2009 at 1:27 PM #

    Back in 2003-2005 I stayed in Wood Hall by the Weiseger-Brown athletic building. Fancy SUV’s with young looking college age kids drove through there on an hourly basis. I always assumed they were athletes since it was an athletic building.

  13. RickJ 12/14/2009 at 4:46 PM #

    Dean Smith orchestrated a great recruiting advantage for his basketball program without ever hearing a negative word about it from the NCAA or any media source. Years ago, the NBA draft had as many as 9 or 10 rounds as opposed to the 2 they have now. For many years, every single UNC player was drafted in the NBA including some walk-on’s such as Jeb Barlow. I remember Kenny Smith commenting one time that this was one of the reasons he choose UNC because every player got drafted. Who drafted all of these UNC players? Doug Moe, George Karl or Larry Brown. They were always taken in the late rounds but they got to go to training camp and always could put on their resume that they were drafted by the NBA. Standouts such as Chris Brust, Jimmy Braddock and Cecil Exum all benefited from this “UNC Family” benefit.

    If you think this is nitpicking, ask yourself this question – If Jerry Tarkanian had several friends in the NBA that drafted every single one of his players, would the NCAA have said nothing?

  14. ncsu_kappa 12/14/2009 at 5:14 PM #

    During 2003-2005 we were having guys repeatedly sign with agents after the season was over so they were getting spotted cars and money prior to hopeful NFL careers.

    What is completely different is going to party at club Gotham in Chapel Hill (when it was the thing to do) and Joe Forte pulls up in a range rover. Can’t remember if it was his freshman season or slop but either way he was still driving a luxury car. I would hear about other players but Mr. Forte I happen to see with my own eyes.

    At state you don’t see that many luxury cars but K-Rob had two (after the season), Price, Martin, and a linemen all got Escalades with huge rims just prior to the draft.

    John McCargo have receivied freshman all-America awards spent his summer at the enterprise rent a car washing cars sweating to the oldies. Derrick Morris drove a big truck as well but his father owned a car dealership and spent close 15 seasons in the league.

    State is operated differently. I definitely had state players tell me about recruiting practices at Tennessee (women and cash). The fact that we don’t do it is probably partly a reflection of moral fortitude and the calibur of players we attract. The money and girls are something I was told is generally reserved for the top recruits at almost all schools. The higher the recruit probably the more they (family, friends, and “trusted advisors”) expect from their suitors.

  15. FunPack 12/14/2009 at 8:25 PM #

    I used to see Cozell McQueen riding around campus on a moped. I believe occasionally Spud Webb would borrow it and ride around too. At least it appeared to be the same moped. And, 6-foot 11-inch Cozell on a moped was every bit as entertaining to see as you might think it would be. I used to get a good laugh every time I saw that — he was all arms, elbows, and knees akimbo.

  16. Primewolf 12/14/2009 at 8:44 PM #

    This just makes me more upset with our 1973 probation for DT playing in a pickup game while being recruited.

    What I don’t understand is why more of this isn;t documented on film,photos, etc. If the practice is that prevalent it wouldn’t seem to be that hard for a rival school to have a professional follow and bug or video some of these escapades. Put it on utube and send in to NCAA.

    It really doesn’t seem that hard to stake things out and figure out a schools tendencies in these matters and then get the evidence.

    What am I missing here.

  17. VaWolf82 12/14/2009 at 10:08 PM #

    If memory serves, Cozell was a senior in 1983 and Spud didn’t start at State until 1984.

  18. Octavian 12/14/2009 at 10:10 PM #

    I’m sorry to defile the UT but here’s hoping the admin. and that twit Lane Kiffin get nailed. One has to remember that UT doesn’t have the talent base in the state and therefore must recruit nationally (at all costs) to compete with UGA, UF and Bama et al.

    They have always taken cheating in the $EC to a new level. There are two sets of rules it seems and it’s so burning that some schools are in a protected class.

  19. Gene 12/14/2009 at 10:18 PM #

    “What am I missing here.”

    You assume the NCAA exists to maintain a level playing field in college athletics. Right now, I think, they exist to maintain their cash flow.

    What brings in the cash? Mainly some big name programs, who are given preferential treatment.

  20. GAWolf 12/14/2009 at 10:31 PM #

    “arms, elbows and knees akimbo” made me chuckle.

    Todd Fuller used to ride a mountain bike in a similar fashion. He also wore a bike helmet that looked like a jewish kippah on his big head. Funny stuff… all of which points to one inherent truth… no cars are getting slung to athletes in Raleigh.

  21. theghost 12/15/2009 at 1:44 AM #

    I do remember how ridiculous Fuller looked riding around, sometimes in biking pants – an odd sight indeed for a man of his size. I loved that guy.

    Weren’t DT’s recruitment violations a bit more substantial – like actually legitimate violations? It was before my time, I’m just going on what I thought I remember hearing, but I had always had it in my head that Sloan cut some corners to get him, but it was worth it, and the year probation was a small price to pay. Maybe that sounds like blasphemy to some – what were the facts?

    Lane Kiffin won’t last at UT – even the SEC commissioner is cracking down on him. This won’t end well. Amazing that he’s Monte’s son – are they really this different, or is Monte not what I imagine him to be? The Monte I believe in would’ve dragged Lane behind the building and beat him to a pulp months ago, but apparently that hasn’t happened.

  22. FunPack 12/15/2009 at 6:12 AM #

    VaWolf — Cozell was a sophomore in ’83, I believe. One year ahead of me. I can’t recall when Spud arrived, just that he really stood out when loitering with a bunch of really big dudes — Cozell, Lo Charles, etc. BTW, Spud looked pretty normal zipping around on that moped, at least as much as any campus rock star can look normal.

    GAWolf — yeah, that was the thought I had rattling around in my brain too. If anyone at State was going to get cars from boosters, it should have been that ’83 gang. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even get that moped from shady sources. 😉

  23. Texpack 12/15/2009 at 8:29 AM #

    Cozell was a sophomore in ’83. Spud arrived in ’84. The recruiting violations involving DT were trivial. The fact that Bill Guthridge’s college room mate was the NCAA’s lead investigator on the case had more to do with the probation than anything.

  24. VaWolf82 12/15/2009 at 9:19 AM #

    Thanks. I knew that there were 3 starting seniors in 83. Somehow I forgot all about Thurl.

  25. VaWolf82 12/15/2009 at 9:23 AM #

    Right now, I think, they [NCAA] exist to maintain their cash flow.

    What brings in the cash? Mainly some big name programs, who are given preferential treatment.

    Actually, the NCAA makes their money from the BB tournament…not football. That’s one of the reasons often speculated about for the inertia behind the BCS…..the big football schools don’t want to turn over the profits from post-season football to the NCAA. (Per their by-laws, the NCAA is responsible for all post-season tournaments.)

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