Pac-12 coaches paying close attention to corruption trial
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By JANIE McCAULEY
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Stanford coach Jerod Haase believes that in due time college basketball will get past its recruiting corruption scandal and regain its credibility.
Programs everywhere are paying close attention to the federal trial on college basketball corruption in Manhattan.
"Certainly the echo when they talk about the Rice Commission and all the steps that are put in place right now, it's with the intent that we always have an even playing field," Haase said at Pac-12 media day Thursday. "How it all plays out will be interesting. I do think moving forward with everyone with that in mind is important. Within college athletics you're always trying to be well versed in that kind of thing. Right now it's just a wait-and-see approach as things unfold. But I am optimistic, I'm an optimistic person. I do believe that at the end of this it's going to be a really strong product. College basketball's going to end up in a good spot. That doesn't mean anything's perfect just like any business or industry, it's not perfect but I do think with the right people in place, the right goals in mind, we're going to get to a place that's going to be really, really positive."
With conference programs investigated, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott last year established a task force to look at possible reform measures to present recommendations to the NCAA and other leaders.
"This was a helpful part of a national process led by former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on behalf of the NCAA to examine reforms and ultimately led to a bold set of reforms that were proposed and ultimately adopted by the NCAA board of directors," Scott said. "We've urged and continue to urge the NBA and the NBA Players Association to put an end to its one-and-done rule and allow young men that have a desire to play professional basketball right away coming out of high school to do that and not be forced to go to college, and still hopeful that they will make that change. The main buckets of changes that the NCAA has made align with the four buckets of main recommendations that our task force made."
Oregon was picked by the media Thursday to win the Pac-12 for the second time in three seasons, joining the Ducks women's team topping the preseason poll Wednesday - the first time in conference history the same school is predicted to win both in the men's and women's game.
"Well, I think the women will have a lot easier time living up to them than we will," coach Dana Altman said. "We like the expectations. We hope we can live up to them."
The Ducks, with two returning starters and a top-five recruiting class, received 16 of 25 first-place votes. UCLA is picked second and Washington third.
Still, much of the focus along with what's happening on the court as preseason preparations are in full swing is all that's going on off it.
"I think we just need to clean up the game," Washington coach Mike Hopkins said.
UCLA coach Steve Alford said he is confident his program is running a clean operation and strives to compete "with the utmost integrity and character in mind."
"I know how we run our program, so I've had no loss of sleep or those type of things of knowing how our assistants go about things," he said.
Once Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak is caught up from his day guiding the Utes, you bet he is paying attention, too.
"I'm curious about what's happening like everybody else. We're right in the thick of trying to get our team better," he said. "When you do get some free time at the end of the day it's worth taking a peek at."
Krystkowiak noted the corruption scandal has shined a light on "things that have been happening for a long time."
"I don't think it's any big secret, it's not blowing anybody away," he said. "It's public for the first time."
Alford knows coaches everywhere are ready to move forward - whenever that day comes.
"The whole thing is unfortunate to our game and we just hope closure is sooner than later and adjustments can be made," Alford said. "It's only going to enhance the great game that we have."
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Updated October 11, 2018