The Washington Post broke a “story” this Sunday that the University of Maryland did not commit a recruiting violation when star basketball prospect Lance Stephenson visited the Under Armour headquarters during a recruiting trip to the area in late January. The non-story was then picked up by the Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News, the Sporting News, and a number of other major news outlets. Under Armour CEO Lance Plank is also on the board of trustees at UMD because his company is a major donor to the school’s athletic programs. Although they have not violated and NCAA recruiting rules with this visit, Plank and Stephenson have given an air of impropriety due to the associations between the university and the company. That’s the gist of it.
The Post recently wrote a three-part series on how Gary Williams can’t recruit and his team is suffering for it. Since then, Williams has righted the ship and has the team on the verge of making the big tournament. The stories sparked boosters, fans, and other school supports to put on an overwhelming display of support for Williams. What do we have here? I’m guessing that Eric Prisbell and Steve Yanda needed something else to keep themselves in print, so they looked back through their notes on the recruiting stories, noticed this tidbit about Stephenson, and decided to make something out of nothing.
I think the Post needs to make-up its mind on whether they are for or against Maryland recruiting blue chips. The paper has a lot of influence over the university and how it conducts its business. What is it going to be? Should we go after the All-World players with borderline personality disorders, or should we stick with the system Gary already had in place, which was to get diamonds in the rough and try to mold them into gems? Maybe the Post can just tell Maryland what they want out of this situation instead of continually embarrassing the program on a national stage. I think the writers there sometimes forget that the Post is not just a local paper.
Personally, I think Stephenson is a specimen but I would pass on him. I wouldn’t pass on him because of this Under Armour garbage, but because I’ve heard he has problems with authority, and he’s probably not the kind of guy that would thrive in this system. We have some other talented guys coming in. Gary should probably take a flier on Stephenson like he has on other borderline guys in the past. That’s his system, and he should stick to it.
That’s how I feel. Isn’t it amazing how easy it was to interpret the message of this story when I simply stated it rather than beat around the bush?