The Memphis-Minnesota recruiting intrigue

July, 22, 2010
7/22/10
11:13
AM ET
When you first read this headline from the St. Paul Pioneer Press -- "Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith says Memphis coach Josh Pastner broke NCAA rule in watching Trevor Mbakwe" -- you feel like there's skullduggery afoot. Did Josh Pastner illegally watch a potential transfer play at a non-certified event? Did Minnesota coach Tubby Smith commit the greatest coaching-fraternity crime of all-time by turning him in? Does asking successive questions make things seem more vaguely sinister than they really are?

Turns out, there's not a lot of intrigue here. On a recruiting trip to Minnesota, Pastner made a stop at a summer league where he saw Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe, who is considering a transfer to Memphis. The stop appears to have been inadvertent. According to the Pioneer-Press, Smith said:
"I think they probably misunderstood what the rules were," Smith said Tuesday. "It might have been miscommunication or something. I don't know."

According to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal's Dan Wolken, the misunderstanding may have come from Memphis' compliance office:
According to a source, prior to showing up at Mbakwe's game, Pastner received an e-mail from Memphis compliance officer Nicole Green clearing him to be there. It appears Green misinterpreted the rule.

If this all has Memphis fans holding their collective breath, that's understandable. The school is just recovering from its Derrick Rose-SAT-induced vacated season and the Tigers can't afford to slip up on the recruiting trail.

Still, Tigers fans can probably breathe easy: According to Wolken, this situation should elicit a letter of reprimand from the NCAA, and nothing more. Memphis and Minnesota -- and Tubby Smith and Josh Pastner -- may not be BFFs anytime soon, but if that's the worst to come out of this, Memphis can deal.

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