There is an article by our old buddy Pete Thamel in the New York Times today about a couple of NCAA investigators taking a look at Nerlens Noel (hat tip: John Clay). Here is the gist of it:
A person who has been briefed on the N.C.A.A.’s inquiry said the topics officials were planning on inquiring about included Noel’s relationship with Chris Driscoll, a former Providence assistant who is close to Noel. Driscoll was barred this year from campus at the Tilton School, the New Hampshire boarding school where Noel has spent the past two years and is completing his final year of high school.
N.C.A.A. officials also planned to find out about Noel’s relationship with Errol Randolph, a former substitute teacher at Everett High School who is another of Noel’s advisers, according to the person briefed on the inquiry. Until recently, Randolph had a link on his LinkedIn page directing people to the Web site of the sports agency run by the prominent basketball agent Andy Miller. The link to Miller’s ASM Sports Web site has since been removed.
...N.C.A.A. officials also planned to inquire about Noel’s finances, according to the person briefed on the inquiry. He flew on unofficial visits this year to Kentucky and Louisville that were not paid for by the universities.
None of this looks particularly disturbing. Every recruit these days knows they have to pay for their unofficial visits without help, and presumably Noel knows that as well. If not, we know from the John Wall incident the rough parameters for NCAA action as punishment.
Related: Greg Edwards' Fanpost
Highly touted players are often going to be the subject of these inquiries, as they tend to draw unsavory attention and that is nothing new. Every year, some kind of issue has cropped up with respect to UK's recruits, and I would expect that to continue as long as the program continues to recruit at the highest level.
It is also undoubtedly true that Noel's decision to reclassify has brought even more scrutiny on him. Hopefully, he passes it all with flying colors. If not, we'll have to deal with the consequences, whatever they are. Rob Dauster of Ballin' is a Habit and NBC's College Basketball Talk has it right:
Essentially, the news is that the No. 1 recruit in the country is being investigated by the NCAA. In this day and age, the NCAA would not be doing their job if they didn’t look into the recruitment and the amateurism of the No. 1 recruit in the country, especially in Noel’s case. There are red flags surrounding his days as a high schooler, and those red flags were written about in the New York Times. The fact of the matter is that every recruit at Noel’s level is going to have some unsavory people circling around them, looking for a way to make a couple dollars, and it’s the NCAA’s job to determine whether or not any rules were violated in the process.
That's right, and it is the NCAA's job to look into these types of matters. I suggest we let them do their jobs, and trust that Calipari has done his due diligence during recruitment.
One thing I do know -- Sandy Bell is watching over this process, and therefore I feel confident the school is well-protected from any NCAA fallout. So whatever, if anything, this investigation turns up, it isn't likely to have any ramifications for the school in terms of NCAA issues, but it may well impact next season if Noel is declared ineligible for a significant part of it. That is certainly possible.
Let's just hope it goes well.