Isaiah Whitehead Committing to Seton Hall Highlights NCAA Issue


Mar 13, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Seton Hall Pirates head coach Kevin Willard questions an official

Yesterday, highly sought after prospect, Isaiah Whitehead, committed to the Seton Hall Pirates instead of the St. John’s Red Storm. The move came as a bit of a surprise considering all signs pointed to Whitehead playing for Steve Lavin. Well, that was until a few hours before he was going to make the decision at his high school and word came out that his high school coach was looking to be a player in college hoops.

Now, this isn’t a knock on Seton Hall or their head coach, Kevin Willard. Truth be told, Willard has been desperate to land a big time recruit, get the program headed in the right direction and was running out of time to do so. Doing something such as bringing the recruit’s high school coach to the program to make sure he lands the recruit is legal and something Willard probably felt was necessary. His job is to land good recruits and win games — bringing Tiny Morton (Whitehead’s high school coach) in as an assistant was a guarantee in landing Whitehead. Again, it is completely legal within the iffy NCAA guidelines — albeit, not the best look.

I mean, if a college coach has to “offer” a high school coach an assistant gig to land a recruit, well, then the coach is just doing it wrong. Not to mention, according to reports, Morton asked Lavin why he didn’t get offered an assistant gig by St. John’s. Meaning, if it were not for Morton parlaying his high school player’s talent into him furthering his professional success, Willard may not have landed Whitehead at all. Making one think that it was never Isaiah Whitehead’s decision as to where he was going to college to begin with.

Willard is not the only coach to ever do something like this. Heck, this isn’t the first time he has done something like this. However, this is clearly a situation where a student-athlete is — yet again — being used and abused by the people who are supposed to have his best interests in their hearts.

Morton — who also coached Lance Stephenson at Lincoln high school — was clearly using Whitehead’s stock as a top-recruit to get a job coaching in college. Whitehead, who was widely reported to be going to St. John’s a few days prior to committing, essentially committed to Seton Hall because Morton was going there too. Still, Morton wasn’t just trying to go to just Seton Hall — he was trying to use Whitehead as leverage to get the best fit for him, not his player.

Morton was also quoted at one point in saying that two Syracuse Orange assistants really wanted him to go coach there. Not only is that likely a lie, but it would also be Morton acting like his stock as an assistant coach in college was higher than that of Whitehead’s as a player. Which is just insane.

Regardless, you can’t blame Seton Hall. They didn’t do anything illegal or wrong. Heck, you can’t even blame Tiny Morton for abusing the power he had while shopping around Isaiah Whitehead. While what he did might be morally wrong, he too didn’t do anything illegal. We can, however, blame the NCAA for allowing schools to put price tags next to players, but using that price tag to payoff coaches in an effort to land said players.

A player, according to the NCAA, has no real value. If they did, they would pay them and not hide behind the guise of amateurism. The NCAA, however, does not see a problem with high school coaches taking advantage of the players underneath them in an effort to further their own careers and cash in financially. Nor do they think it is an issue that colleges will bribe (because that’s what it is) high school coaches with money and a position in an effort to land the recruit they want.

Although, to be fair, it’s not like the NCAA has ever had the student-athletes’ best interests at heart. They continue to push on the notion of amateurism despite the fact they continually get busted exploiting players for cash. Even when Jay Bilas exposed the NCAA clothing website’s search engine — which would redirect people who searched a certain player’s name to their team apparel — not only did the NCAA have an answer, but did very little in the way of apologizing. Instead, like so often before, the governing body of college sports hurled blame around but took no accountability of their own.

It’s simply not okay for colleges to do backdoor deals with high school coaches to land recruits. It’s not. How can a parent possibly think that a high school coach cares about their kid when they are using the kid to land a bigger job? How can that same parent think a college cares about their kid when they are willing to use the student-athlete’s high school coach against him in an effort to land them?

The simple answer is that they can’t. Not because of Kevin Willard, Seton Hall or Tiny Morton, though — but because the NCAA’s rules and guidelines make as much sense as using a coffee pot to make meatloaf.

Seriously, if a student-athletes’ value is so minimal when compared to the universities, why are colleges willing to hire their hire school coaches for big money to land the player?


Joseph is the editor of Storm The Paint. Him, Twitter @JosephNardone