Monday, March 3, 2008


...and a former Duke hoopster is involved.

Over at their heads are about to explode…

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

The all-time coaching rogue heard the news and couldn’t decide whether to be stunned or entertained.

“Harvard?” Jerry Tarkanian kept saying with a laugh. “Harvard’s cheating?”

So alleges The New York Times, which Sunday unveiled one of the most unlikely, telling and, at least to some of us, humorous potential college basketball scandals by bringing to light a number of questionable practices by no less than Harvard Basketball.

Yes, Harvard.

The school that regularly produces presidents, Supreme Court justices and Nobel prize winners – but never before a compliance controversy – is suddenly dealing with multiple allegations less than a year into coach Tommy Amaker’s tenure.

“We used to joke we were the Harvard of southern Nevada,” Tarkanian laughed of his legendary run at UNLV that featured a national title, four Final Fours and endless fights with NCAA investigators.

So maybe now Harvard is the UNLV of eastern Massachusetts.

While what Times reporter Pete Thamel uncovered isn’t the juicy stuff they make movies about – fixed SAT scores, cash to recruits, a free house for mom and dad – the questionable actions appear to be deliberate attempts to, at the very least, work around well-known NCAA rules.

And, again, this is Harvard. This is the Ivy League, of all places. These are supposed to be the standard bearers of what is right about college sports, not places trotting out the old, “Hey, everyone else is doing it” defense.

This isn’t necessarily about what was being done as much as where it was being done.

Consider this one: It’s against NCAA rules for college coaches to have in-person contact with potential recruits in June, and it’s always against the rules for them to play ball against or work out a potential recruit.

But last June a guy named Kenny Blakeney, who just happened to have played at Duke when Amaker was an assistant there, began repeatedly playing pickup games with high school players Harvard was recruiting – Max Kenyi of Washington, D.C., and Keith Wright of Norfolk, Va. Blakeney even traveled nearly 400 miles roundtrip for the supposedly casual games with Wright.

“He was someone I could relate to, someone I could talk to about anything,” Kenyi said to the paper.

On July 2, after all that time hanging out with the recruits when no other recruiter could, Blakeney was – surprise! – hired by Amaker to be a Harvard assistant. A few months later both players signed with the Crimson.

Nice, Harvard, NICE!

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