Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Poaching: The Dirtiest Play in Sports

This post is all about poaching in Sports. As a youth coach for a competitive boys team in Northern California, I see it all the time. I even have a coach from another team who scouts my practices. He sends his son to talk to a player he wants to recruit. It is one thing for a player to go tryout with another team, but for a coach to recruit a player in-season, it is beyond unprofessional.

I say this because poaching, as all Coaches know is dirty. There are rules against it. Great coaches don't poach. Now we come to College Sports and the NCAA. They just made it allowable for Coaches to 'poach' players from the disgraced Penn State Football team.

Wait, the football players did nothing wrong. A bunch of Penn State officials, decided not to report a Coach named Jerry Sandusky to the Department of Public Welfare in 2001. The players on the Football team were not involved, but the University was. Many alums are still in dis-belief, but the fact remains that Penn State officials participated in a cover-up that allowed a child molester to operate freely for years (link to the Freeh Report).

The NCAA has headed into new dark waters, by ruling on Penn State without a hearing. That will all get sorted out in time. As a Penn State Alum, I'm willing to deal with most of what was handed down, except for the part that allows teams to recruit (poach) players without having to give up one of their own scholarships.

What we have here is a culture, promoted by the NCAA, of big time college sports and a win at all costs philosophy. Calling it open season on Penn State Football players is unprofessional and at best unethical.

Since I've been an alumni advisor and a fraternity house corporation board member at Penn State for 25 years, I work with students all the time. The thing I always stress is staying focused on classes and graduating.  Football players are still students first, athletes second. It bothers me to see institutions, such as major Universities, putting themselves first, by using a loophole to try to steal players under the guise of a punishment by the NCAA. It is still poaching. I will note, that if a player wants to transfer, I don't view that as poaching, since the player initiated the contact.

So for all the Division I Universities, such as USC (which still is working off their own NCAA sanctions) and their Coach Lane Kiffen, I will politely suggest that you back off. Leave the Penn State student athletes alone. They will have a better chance of graduating at Penn State. I'll also call out the University of Arizona, whose Coach Rich Rodriguez is also making overtures. So for now, the major Conference that is playing dirty is the Pac12. Last time I checked, USC and Arizona have their own problems with graduation rates.

Ask any professor at any University and he or she will tell you that there is a lot more to their institution than Football or Basketball and winning. Unfortunately for many College Administrators and Alumni, they have forgotten that College is about learning and getting a college degree. It isn't about winning at all costs. Student Athletes are students first. Division I University Presidents and the NCAA have forgotten that.


  1. Update. It has been confirmed that 6 Coaches from the University of Illinois are in State College. Illinois did not contact Penn State in advance.

  2. First, do you have any proof that Illinois contacted PSU players initially?

    Second, how can you hope to taken morally serious for even one second when you attempt to attribute a "win at all cost" mentality to an institution that *gasp* offers a scholarship to an eligible student athlete in light of the horrors that were allowed to occur at a university where that same mentality that you chastise other schools for resulted in the rapes and sexual abuse of 10 children over a 15 year period.

    If you're looking to bitch about institutions "winning at all costs," focus your attention elsewhere. There's plenty of targets in State College, PA. Good Luck.