Tom Izzo's suspension highlights new rule

December, 17, 2010
12/17/10
7:02
PM ET
This is uncharted territory.

Usually, when you're talking about Tom Izzo and compliance, you're talking in glowing tones. Izzo has the reputation -- well-deserved, it should be noted -- of running his program the right way, of avoiding recruiting issues, and of not just disliking recruiting but being actively disgusted with the state of the modern college hoops pipeline. All of that is for good reason.

So it's a little strange to be writing about Izzo in connection with a recruiting abuse and suspension. But that's exactly the case today: As you no doubt already know, Izzo will serve a one-game suspension Saturday after the NCAA found that the Spartans employed an "individual associated with a prospect" -- or IAWP, if you're into the whole acronym thing -- during a summer camp in June. The IAP was paid the standard rate for the camp, $475 for five days of working with middle-schoolers, and Michigan State is characterizing the incident as an accident.

As a result, Izzo will miss Saturday's home game with 2-9 Prairie View A&M and will return for next week's battle with Texas. One-game suspensions can't be timed much better than that.

What does the whole thing mean? There's not much to say about Izzo's reputation or the effects therein; the incident does appear to have been accidental and generally non-nefarious, and a one-game suspension is a fair penalty for this kind of minor secondary violation. Izzo's reputation should remain undamaged.

If anything, the news reveals what most recruiting observers -- and college hoops fans in general -- already realize: IAPs are everywhere. They've been attending camps and making money, oftentimes in name only and oftentimes in exchange for access to a recruit, for years. This isn't an isolated thing, nor is it reserved to programs or coaches casual fans might associate with, ahem, less stringent recruiting tactics. It was a universal racket, and old rackets die hard.

The new rule regulating this sort of thing is going to require intense oversight from college hoops programs. It's going to be a challenge to figure out just who is who is not an IAP, and that challenge rests in the hands of the already overtaxed compliance staffs at places like Michigan State. As a result, you get situations like this, wherein even a coach with a sterling compliance record ends up missing a game -- likely an easy win, but still -- because the wrong person coached some middle-schoolers at camp this summer.

Much like Izzo's association with the word "violations," the rule itself is uncharted territory. But it's territory college hoops programs should probably get familiar with in a hurry. As we learned today, it can, and does, happen everywhere.

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