Sports Business

Making An AAU Coach Part Of The Team

Sitting in the fans section and also in the NCAA coach area recently at AAU Nationals in Orlando, I could not help but think how instrumental the AAU coaches must be in shaping their players’ futures.  What if an NCAA coach could call Athletes First’s coach his best friend?  More importantly to our conversation on this blog, what if an agent could call Memphis YOMCA’s coach his best buddy?  Obviously, the teams mentioned are just examples, but getting friendly with some of the nation’s top AAU coaches could lead an NCAA coach or NBPA agent to a lot of potential success.  Which makes this story from Jeff Goodman at FOX Sports so interesting.

Usually, we hear about covert relationships between NCAA coaches/NBPA agents and AAU coaches.  Rarely are such relationships thrown out for the public to view as fact.  Baylor University obviously has little concern about any sort of backlash that may result from open wheeling and dealing with an AAU coach.  The University just hired Dwon Clifton, head coach of AAU team, D-One Sports. Forget about open discussions, an AAU coach was overtly hired by a university to head its basketball player development.  You better believe that the #1 point guard in the nation, John Wall, will be heading to Baylor in the future.  The cost of hiring Dwon pales in comparison to the gain of signing one of America’s top recruits.

I am happy for Baylor University and all of those involved in the transaction.  I am left wondering; however, just how ethical this hiring is for a university that is part of an organization that stresses amateurism (the NCAA).  Additionally, if it is alright for a university to hire an AAU coach with the hidden hope of signing one of the nation’s top recruits as a consequence, may a sports agent do the same?  Would it be alright for a sports agency to start going around and offering internal positions to some of the country’s top AAU coaches with the hope that their former players (or current players, if the agency allows said coaches to continue to head up their teams) would heed advice that tells them to sign with said agency?

Realistically, Dwon Clifton may have been hired by Baylor because he happens to be an excellent coach.  An agency may hire an AAU coach because he would be an excellent addition to the agency above and beyond the value of a potential referral of former clients.  What are your feelings on this issue?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

One reply on “Making An AAU Coach Part Of The Team”

[…] Recently, I pondered whether it is ethical for a university to hire an AAU coach when that coach is known for advising one of the top upcoming players in the country.  It was based on Baylor University announcing the hiring of Dwon Clifton, the former head coach of D-One Sports (AAU powerhouse).  He has had premier access to John Wall, one of the most recruited and promising youngster in the United States.  Now there is a new, interesting twist to the Clifton/Wall connection; however, this one deals with Dwon’s brother, Brian Clifton. […]

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