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?