Kentucky Basketball: Dealing With The Gary Parrish-William Wesley Story

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 01: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats throws the ball during practice prior to the 2011 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

There was much moaning and groaning, particularly amongst the Louisville Cardinal faithful (one of whom fruitlessly, and cluelessly debated the rules with me on Twitter) because of this report by Gary Parrish last night.

First of all, William Wesley has been friends with the Gilchrist family since Michael was a little boy.  That relationship gives him carte blanche to meet with Gilchrist anytime, and any place he wants without creating an NCAA problem for himself as long as he isn't engaging in ... well, recruiting.  The rules are pretty explicit about that.  The NCAA Bylaws state, in relevant part:

13.1.2 Permissible Recruiters. General Rule. All in-person, on- and off-campus recruiting contacts with a prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s relatives or legal guardians shall be made only by authorized institutional staff members. Such contact, as well as correspondence and telephone calls, by representatives of an institution’s athletics interests is prohibited except as otherwise permitted in this section. Violations of this bylaw involving individuals other than a representative of an institution’s athletics interests shall be considered institutional violations per Constitution 2.8.1; however, such violations shall not affect the prospective student-athlete’s eligibility. (Revised: 8/5/04)

... General Exceptions. This regulation is not applicable to:


(d) Established Family Friend/Neighbor. Contacts made with a prospective student-athlete by an established
family friend or neighbor, it being understood that such contacts are not made for recruiting purposes and are not initiated by a member of an institution’s coaching staff.

This rule allows Wesley to go to the court and sit with Michael Gilchrist as long as the contact is not "made for recruiting purposes" or initiated by UK (or any other school) or the staff thereof.  That it is not for recruiting purposes is evidenced by the fact that Gilchrist (or Kidd-Gilchrist, as he now wants to be known) has signed an NLOI with Kentucky.

Not only that, but if both Kidd-Gilchrist and Davis did what they said they would and enrolled in summer school, they are no longer considered prospective student athletes.

Regarding the other players in attendance there, Parrish had this to say:

And even though people associated with agents are supposed to be nowhere close to players at an event like this, Wesley has spent the better part of tonight sitting in a chair on the court around Kentucky freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist, and within talking and bumping distance of every high-school prospect in attendance. [my emphasis]

The fact of Wesley's long-time friendship with Gilcrhist, plus the fact that agents are only forbidden to be associated with the summer league in any capacity does not mean they cannot attend events.  Obviously, the event organizer could forbid agents from attending, but under my reading of the rules need not do so as a condition of holding an approved event.

As to "bumping distance, rule (g) under the same subsection says this:

(g) Unavoidable Incidental Contact. An unavoidable incidental contact made with a prospective student-athlete by representatives of the institution’s athletics interests, provided the contact is not prearranged by the representative or an athletics department staff member, does not take place on the grounds of the prospective student-athlete’s educational institution or at the sites of organized competition and practice involving the prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s team (high school, preparatory school, two-year college or all-star team), is not made for the purpose of recruitment of the prospective student-athlete, and involves only normal civility. [my emphasis]

As you might expect, this is much ado about nothing.  Wesley's association with Calipari does not make him a representative of the school's athletic interest de-facto, especially since he represents others such as Tony Barbee of Auburn and Mike Rice of Rutgers.  As long as Wesley does not try to recruit a prospective student-athlete, (thereby making himself a representative of somebody's athletic interests) he may speak to them, as long as he confines his comments to "normal civility."

Of course, Calipari's detractors will see this as some kind of nefarious, evil plot to get in illegal recruiting, but that's got just about the same credibility as the moon landing being faked.

I must admit, part of me enjoys the fact that Wesley showed up to the chagrin of the NCAA people and then proceeded to rub it in their faces.  That's the mean little boy part of me, I suppose, that never got full expression in my youth.

In reality, the NCAA are trying to do their jobs, and Wesley should not be picking on them.  He knows the rules just as well as they do, but there is no need for him to remind them of that fact in an embarrassing way.  Wesley, from what I have read, is better than that, although I suppose there is no accounting for that mean streak I mentioned having, and I'm sure most folks have.

In the final analysis, this is just another thing that's good for Kentucky, even though the Cardinal and other fans will try to spin it as some kind of shady dealings.  Wesley has no need to recruit on anybody's behalf, particularly Calipari's since Coach Cal seems to do that quite well enough on his own.

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