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Thompson would be good liaison for coaches

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

College basketball's Division I coaches finally gathered for the big summit Wednesday in Chicago. Hall of Famer John Thompson, the legendary former Georgetown coach, was brought in to talk about the importance of the NCAA's relationship with the coaches. There is a need for discussion between the governing body and the coaches over what has transpired in the recent past in the coaching profession.

John Thompson
Thompson
The coaches are trying to improve their image. It has been a tough, tough year. Think about all of the problems that have hit the sport -- at Baylor, Fresno State, St. Bonaventure and Georgia.

NCAA president Myles Brand was there too, and a code of ethics for coaches was discussed.

It's a step in a positive direction to understand there is a problem. There is a need for a united front to figure out the steps needed to better the situation. One can't solve the problems without first defining them. Then you need to attack the problem.

Executive director Jim Haney and his people at the National Association of Basketball Coaches did a great job gathering the coaches together to address situations. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and others shared words about the coaching fraternity.

Temple's John Chaney said the coaches agreed to have a higher standard with which to scrutinize themselves.

As I wrote in my new book, "Living a Dream," it would be great if there were a liaison -- someone like Thompson -- to represent the coaches and work hand-in-hand with the NCAA. You can end some of these problems by making freshmen ineligible. That would give those young men time to adjust.

One of the big problems, in many cases, is the recruiting of kids who don't really want to be in college. The process of selecting student-athletes must be scrutinized. There is so much pressure to win that some coaches will bring in a young man who shouldn't be there. Just look at kids who have bounced all over the place and didn't want to be in college. Signing that kind of kid leads to problems.


Coach Rick Pitino got a great commitment when high-school star Sebastian Telfair of New York City announced his plans to attend Louisville (if he doesn't decide to enter the NBA draft).

There wasn't much of a doubt, since Pitino was leading from the outset. His New York background and contacts helped. Plus, he's now heading a program that is becoming one of the best in America.

Expect Telfair to bring flair and excitement to the Louisville campus. Pitino will know how to get the maximum out of him. Let's hope for college basketball that he opts to go to school instead of adding his name to the early-entry NBA draft list.


I noticed the news recently that Indiana has hired former Hoosier star Dane Fife to be on the coaching staff.

Take it to the bank: In 10 years, he will be a big-time head coach. He has all the elements you want in a coach -- the tremendous competitive drive, that fighter's mentality, the belief that you can get the job done.

Fife also understands the world of academics. He comes from a coaching background, as his dad was once a member of the Michigan staff.

Let me tell you, Dane Fife is a great addition for Indiana coach Mike Davis. Fife understands what the blue-chip athlete goes through. He will start at the bottom and work his way up, learning by being involved in one of the most prestigious programs in America.

There is no doubt in my mind that Fife ultimately will become one of the solid coaches in the fraternity.


News out of Gainesville: Coach Billy Donovan's Florida Gators scored big in recruiting once again. What else is new?

Florida's magic continued with the verbal commitment from Mr. Noah. No, not Yannick Noah, the former tennis star, but his son, 6-foot-10 Joakim Noah, who is currently attending Lawrenceville Prep in New Jersey.

That means Yannick will hit the tennis courts down in Gainesville, where there are beautiful facilities.

Joakim Noah will give the Gators size inside. This is a great signing for Donovan.

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