A coach and his son; an out-of-state bus; other stuff
Skinny missed his deadline Monday, so the editors logged into his computer at work. Among other things, they found this draft of an “open letter” to departing Iowa State basketball coach Greg McDermott.
Dear Coach McDermott,
Congratulations on your new job at Creighton. I wish you success to a point — the point being when your team plays Drake University or the University of Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley League. I’m sure many people at Iowa State will miss you.
But that’s not why I write.
I write because of what you seem to have encouraged your son Doug to do. He had signed a letter of intent to go to the University of Northern Iowa and play basketball there. Now, he has reneged on that deal so he can join you at Creighton. That is wrong, Coach.
The most important thing a parent can pass along to his children, Coach, is his values. That is the one thing that every parent can do. You pass along your genes, of course, unless your children are adopted. You provide a college education, if you can afford it. You might provide some of the comforts of life, if you have the inclination and the money. But it’s the values that count — more than the genes, more than the education, more than the comforts of life. They provide the measure of the man and help set the measure of the boy. Indeed, passing along values is the main duty and chief test of a good parent.
And as a parent, Coach, you just failed the test.
A national letter of intent, as you of all people must know, is a binding agreement between a college and a prospective student-athlete. The student agrees to attend the college for one year, and the college agrees to give the student an athletic scholarship. Once it is signed, none of the other 611 participating schools may try to recruit the young athlete. If the young athlete changes his mind, he can lose a season of eligibility. “I understand all participating conferences and institutions are obligated to respect my signing and shall cease to recruit me after my signing this NLI,” said the letter that your son signed.
UNI Coach Ben Jacobson, your good friend and successor at UNI, and athletic director Troy Dannen have graciously said they will release Doug from his commitment, which means he won’t have to sit out a year and lose a year of eligibility before he plays for you at Creighton. That is magnanimous, at the very least. As those of us who watched him play at Ames High School and in the state tournament know, Doug is an exceptional basketball player, a first-team all-stater, and UNI fans and coaches were counting on him to help continue the great success the team has recently had. (They beat Kansas in the NCAA tournament, you’ll recall.) Now, he will be playing against them. They not only lose a probable star, they lose him to a conference opponent.
You were in a unique position to teach your son — and the sons and daughters of all of us — the difference between right and wrong, the importance of being true, the meaning of a man’s word. Instead, you seem to have aided and abetted Doug as he blithely ignored a binding commitment that he made. Indeed, your role was far from passive. “I brought it up (with Coach Jacobson),” you told The Des Moines Register, “and he said, ‘Absolutely.’” That apparently was done without much reflection or discussion in your family. Creighton is said to have approached you on Saturday; you called Jacobson on Sunday. And your son told the Register that once you were hired, the decision for him was a “no-brainer.”
How can you raise a boy, Coach, to think that going back on his word — his written, binding word — is a “no-brainer?”
You have disappointed a lot of people.
You might also have violated the rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Under the rules of a letter of intent, “All colleges and universities...agree to not recruit a prospective student-athlete once he or she signs (a national letter of intent) with another college or university.” There’s no exception for coach-fathers and their athlete-sons. Yet the facts and the phone calls and their timing indicate you might have recruited your son in violation of the rules. Had that occurred to you?
The NCAA’s form that the student must fill out in requesting a release from his letter of intent has a line that says “cite the reason for requesting the NLI release.” And it must be signed both by Doug and a parent. What was the reason Doug gave? And did you sign it?
So that’s it, Coach. You and your family will soon be off for Omaha, and I’m sorry to see you leave. You’re a good coach, and I’m told you’re a good guy. But last weekend, Coach, you weren’t a good Dad.
And then we found these notes to himself:
Look into report that members of the Racing and Gaming Commission use a Wichita bus company — VillageTours — for the charters that commissioners take to inspect possible casino sites. RACI encourages casinos to use Iowa vendors. Does it exempt itself? Do commissioners know the difference between a greyhound and a Greyhound? ...
Check out report that Republican Jim Gibbons hasn’t voted in a primary election in at least 10 years. Ask if he intends to vote next month — when he’s in the seven-way primary for the right to take on incumbent Congressman Leonard Boswell. ...
Comb archives to find out how many weeks ago Cityview said Erin Seidler was leaving Chet Culver’s press staff. Register had it a couple of days ago. Note that Bobby Bailey, who had been on loan to the Governor’s staff, is going back to his less-hectic job in the Department of Administrative Services. And find a way to tell the gentle Jim Flansburg he should get a skin-transplant from his thick-skinned dad if he wants to survive in his new job as communications director for the governor. ...
Work in quote from Republican old-timer who said “if Culver didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.” Also check to see what that final argument was about that led to John Frew abruptly leaving governor’s office. Was it about those campaign donations from Fort Dodge? ...
Ask governor’s staff how come he went to Louisville for Derby weekend but flew back to Des Moines Saturday morning — before the race. ...
Congratulate Brad Clark for terrific job he did running One Iowa and wish him well on new job running One Colorado. And say something nice about Troy Price, who’s taking Clark’s job. But note that Price’s defection from Culver’s staff is yet another rush to the exit. ...
Smooth out letter to Coach Greg McDermott so it’s not quite so hard on him. First draft might be too harsh. CV