Unforced errors are the bane of every coach’s existence. They often occur when a team is pressing, or trying too hard to play perfectly. They almost always come back to bite you.
This is especially true in college — where what happens on the court is only one part of the game.
So it’s easy to consider what Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said on Friday night one of the more boneheaded plays he’ll make all year. While answering a question about his love of recruiting in his hometown of Chicago, Coach K accidentally committed an NCAA violation by mentioning a recruit who hadn’t yet officially signed with Duke.
“I just enjoy recruiting anywhere there’s a good player, great kid who wants to come to Duke,” Krzyzewski said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We’ve had a few of those in Chicago, one that’s there right now in DJ, and we’re happy that they finally stopped the teacher’s strike so he could go to Whitney Young and qualify to come here, although he’s qualified. Chicago’s a great town and I always love going back.”
The DJ in question is DJ Steward, a five-star shooting guard who announced his commitment to Duke on Twitter weeks ago.
All glory to God 🙏🏽... Final destination pic.twitter.com/AEztpjx1eB— DJ Steward (@swipasnipa) September 18, 2019
Unfortunately for Krzyzewski, the NCAA doesn’t treat tweets from recruits with the same authority as it does, say, a signed national letter of intent. Until that happens, coaches must take the Sergeant Schultz approach to recruiting: see nothing, hear nothing, know nothing — yes, even in 2019 when adhering to such a policy requires blindfolds and earmuffs at a minimum.
After Coach K mentioned Steward by name, the Tribune noted the school would report the violation to the NCAA.
Krzyzewski should undoubtedly know better. That doesn’t make this being a potential violation any less silly.
Not only did Steward put together a hype video for his announcement, but the high school senior wrote a blog for USA Today about his decision.
“Most of you know that I committed and it’s just a great feeling to be a part of The Brotherhood,” Steward wrote. “I’ve always dreamt about playing at the highest level and now I’m going to Duke. I feel like this will put me in the best position to potentially be able to play at the highest level one day.”
Only Duke is not allowed to act like it knows Steward will sign with the Blue Devils.
Will anything come of this? Probably not. For one, it’s a pretty innocuous mistake. For another, the NCAA’s own standards deem this a Level III violation, the punishment for which is, “rules education to the involved institutional staff member.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone from the NCAA attempting to “educate” Krzyzewski on recruiting.
That time would be better spent revisiting the effectiveness of a rule that requires feigned obliviousness in order to adhere to it.
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