NCAA officials: Education in place for players

Florida forward Chris Walker, right, blocks out Missouri guard Jabari Brown during Tuesday's game at the O'Connell Center.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, February 7, 2014 at 6:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 7, 2014 at 6:59 p.m.

Florida freshman forward Chris Walker will play in his second college game this afternoon when the Gators host Alabama.

Walker's delay in hitting the court included a 12-game NCAA suspension for accepting extra benefits in summer league games. In his first comments following the suspension, the 6-foot-10 Walker said he was unaware of NCAA rules when he broke them.

But NCAA officials say that they try to do a strong job getting the word out to prospects and coaches during sanctioned summer events. Those efforts include mandatory videos shown to prospects at each event that cover initial eligibility, gambling, drug use, amateurism as required topics.

“The educational component has been there for some time,” said Sandy Parrott, who serves on the NCAA's enforcement staff.

Ed Hall has served as a travel-league coach for Nike Team Florida for the past 12 years, a program that has produced former and current Gators such as Walter Hodge, Nick Calathes, Chandler Parsons and Will Yeguete. Hall said he frequently receives email notifications from the NCAA regarding amateurism and prospect eligibility.

“There shouldn't be an excuse for travel-team coaches not knowing the rules,” Hall said.

Hall said all coaches, event-operators and players need to register with the NCAA to compete in NCAA-sanctioned summer events. Those are events in which Division I coaches can watch prospects play, which include a weekend window in April and eight-day window in July.

“The NCAA has sort of put together, I'm sure, really a strong reservoir of travel-team coaches and event coordinators or event operators,” Hall said. “They do a pretty good job getting the word out there. Obviously there are travel-team people who either don't read the message or don't get it, or unfortunately, don't pay any attention to it. We know what the rules are. We know what we're supposed to do, And we make every effort (to follow them).”

Though the NCAA does not necessarily view its job to “police” summer basketball, it has made inroads in cracking down on questionable summer-league activity. In 2012, the NCAA banned four summer-league teams due to ties with agents. One of those summer league teams included AAU coach Matt Ramker's Florida Rams. Walker and UF freshman point guard Kasey Hill were both on the Rams' roster at the time.

“Some of our investigators, because it's our down time, will go out to some events and report back to the group I supervise,” Parrott said. “So they are actually building relationships with college coaches, building relationships with non-scholastic coaches, and that is what generates tips and information coming back in.”

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