Baylor basketball: The skeptics were right
Well, turns out the skeptics were right. Baylor basketball’s rise was not on the up-and-up. But it’s worse than feared. It wasn’t just Scott Drew’s men’s program that skirted NCAA rules, it was Kim Mulkey’s women’s program.
Baylor has self-imposed a variety of penalties on its two programs over impermissible phone calls (remember those?) and texts. The Baylor women lost two scholarships from the 2011-12 season, which didn’t exactly cripple the Bears, who went 40-0 and won the NCAA title. Also, Mulkey will be prohibited from off-campus recruiting the entire month of July, which is no small penalty. That’s when most college coaches make their recruiting hay.
Baylor’s men lost one scholarship for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Also, Drew and assistant coach Jerome Tang were prohibited from making recruiting calls from Jan. 1-Feb. 29 of this year, and the maximum number of official visits allowed for Drew’s program was reduced from 12 to seven for the 2012-13 season.
espn.com reported that Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw and president Kenneth Starr have expressed support for Drew. And no such expression is needed for Mulkey, the queen of Waco. She can do wrong on the Brazos.
But what a disappointing revelation for Baylor and the Big 12. Some of us have trumpeted the Bears’ athletic success this school year — a 10-3 football season complete with a Heisman Trophy, the 40-0 women’s basketball record, a regional final trip for the Baylor. Baylor became the first school ever to hit 80 victories combined in those three sports. For a once-beleaguered athletic program, this school year was nothing short of sensational.
But whispers always abounded about NCAA violations, particularly concerning Drew’s program. What I always said was, quit accusing and start producing evidence. Well, here’s the evidence, the same kind of violations that put OU basketball on probation under Kelvin Sampson and got Sampson fired from Indiana.
It’s even worse that Mulkey’s program is involved. She’s accused of improper contact with star center Brittney Griner. Hmm, wonder if Griner played a big role in Baylor going 40-0? Mulkey is not particularly popular with her peers. She’s a little feisty and a lot abrasive. Now coaches, especially those in the Big 12, have serious reasons to resent the coach who has brought two NCAA titles to Baylor.
And Drew’s upstart success, which no one saw coming and no one has really explained, now is shrouded. Are there worse infractions beyond the phone calls? Legitimate questions now. I defended Drew and Baylor before the self-admission of rule-breaking. No one can defend them now.
So the Baylor success is scarred. The Big 12′s pride in Baylor is diminished. Thankfully, no reports of irregularities by football coach Art Briles. That’s the best Baylor success story. Let’s hope the Bears didn’t run afoul of the football rules. But the skeptics were right about Baylor basketball.
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