NEW YORK (AP) — As legal disputes mount over the use of name, image and likeness compensation in the recruiting of college athletes, Hall of Fame basketball coach Rick Pitino believes it is time for the NCAA withdraw when it comes to policing member schools. .
“It’s a very difficult time in college basketball, because it’s free agency. And now I think what’s going to happen is they’re going to say everyone can transfer, and then if they don’t like it, they’re going to take them to court,” the first-year St. John’s coach said. he said on Saturday.
“So, I think the NCAA law enforcement staff should be disbanded. It’s a joke. Not because I don’t like them. But they no longer have any value. Because now Tennessee will take them to court, Virginia will take them to court…”
The attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia on Wednesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA challenging its ban on the use of NIL compensation in recruiting, and in response to the association’s investigation into the University of Tennessee.
A judge will hear his request on Feb. 13 for a preliminary injunction that would suspend NCAA rules prohibiting recruiting incentives and pay-for-play, the court posted Friday.
Pitino, 71, expressed his thoughts on the NCAA following his team’s 77-64 loss to top-ranked UConn at Madison Square Garden. His comments came at the postgame news conference in response to a reporter’s question about how to stoke a renewed rivalry with the powerful Huskies, the defending national champions, while rebuilding St. John’s program.
“Law enforcement personnel must go,” Pitino continued. “We need to stop all NIL hypocrisy. We need to stop it. Because they can’t stop it. It doesn’t matter if I’m for or against.
“They are professional athletes. Get paid professionally. Will not go away. You can’t try to get loopholes, because they take you to court. That’s why I say, not to criticize law enforcement personnel, that they will be taken to court every time they try to establish a rule. So we’re going through a tough time in college basketball right now. And for us, you can’t really create programs and a culture because everyone leaves.”
Pitino, who won national championships at Kentucky in 1996 and Louisville in 2013, has had his own history of clashes with the NCAA.
The title at Louisville was vacated for NCAA violations, and another NCAA case related to the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting led to Louisville firing him in 2017.
The final ruling by the NCAA’s external enforcement arm on the FBI case was issued in November 2022 and exonerated Pitino.
After leaving Iona last March to take the St. John’s job, Pitino brought in 12 new players for this season, including 10 transfers. But he said the current university landscape involving NIL and the transfer portal makes it “very difficult” to build a consistent culture in a high-level program.
“I think a lot of football coaches and basketball coaches are leaving because of this culture,” Pitino said. “It is difficult to build a program. “You have to really innovate, be creative and understand these rules right now… or the lack of rules.”
AP College Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball