State of college sports perturbs Tom Izzo

July, 12, 2011
7/12/11
6:24
PM ET
No, Tom Izzo isn't going to the NBA.

But one year after the Michigan State coach turned down an opportunity to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers, he is a bit troubled by the current state of college sports.

In an interview with WOOD-TV, Izzo was asked at his charity golf event if he ever thought about the what-ifs with declining the NBA job. Izzo indicated he didn't and added this intriguing comment:
"The only time I think that it's hard is when you see what happens at Ohio State. I just don't know where college athletics is heading in that respect. It worries me some because I think players can say and do what they want. We're supposed to be held accountable for 'em, and yet we're allowed 20 hours a week during the season and none during the summer to even talk to 'em. So that's the only part I struggle with right now."

In the span of a few sentences, Izzo brings up a whole host of issues that the NCAA faces today. The Ohio State football scandal involving quarterback Terrelle Pryor's tattoos and coach Jim Tressel's resignation seems to leave Izzo frustrated from a coach's perspective. How can coaches have their legacies and reputations tied into the actions of players they can't constantly control even if they tried? At the same time, the NCAA doesn't allow coaches to work with players or even watch them work out during the summer, limiting the amount of teaching that's happening across the country unless a team is going on a foreign tour.

That inconsistency is there, and Izzo has also spoken in the past about how tiresome coaching the college game can be. It was mentioned soon after he withdrew from consideration for the Cavaliers job in an interview with Andy Katz:
Izzo is president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and one of the issues bothering him is how much is thrown on a coach's plate these days. The academic responsibilities, the graduation rates, the coaching, the recruiting, the fundraising. All have been tossed on the coach and a failure in any category can be cause for dismissal for some depending on their contracts. In the NBA, the responsibility is one thing -- coaching.

"Having some down time was something that was I definitely looking into," Izzo said.

That doesn't mean Izzo is headed to the NBA, but being a college coach in a complicated period of time isn't easy either. That goes for coaches who have run afoul of NCAA rules and even a national championship-winning coach like Izzo. He's got a great situation at Michigan State and a community there that can't get enough of him. But in college sports, there's also plenty for him to shake his head about.

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