Pac-12 forms task force to address issues
SAN FRANCISCO — The Pac-12 Conference is launching its own task force to develop reform proposals in the wake of a federal bribery investigation that includes two assistant coaches in the conference.
Commissioner Larry Scott expects the 10 to 12 members on his task force "to address issues that are threatening the integrity of collegiate athletics and to protect our student-athletes."
"Importantly, our task force is going to look at the issues raised by the FBI investigation and do deep dives into the culture and issues around recruitment and men's college basketball, but, more broadly, at related issues and examine how some of the things we've seen in basketball could potentially impact other sports," Scott said. "This is particularly the case when it comes to recruitment in other sports where we're increasingly seeing trends, more and more influence and involvement from third parties."
Scott named the first five members Thursday during the Pac-12's men's basketball media day — a day after the NCAA announced a commission to study the inner workings of college basketball amid the scandal.
Trojans assistant Tony Bland and Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson, who the school said is in the process of being dismissed, were among the four assistant coaches arrested in the alleged bribery scheme. Bland is on administrative leave.
USC coach Andy Enfield said all his players are practicing as the investigation continues. He has been instructed not to speak about the investigation, and Arizona coach Sean Miller also didn't directly address the situation with his former assistant also part of the investigation.
"I support the investigation into the allegations and I also support what anybody can do to make our game better," Miller said, repeatedly stating, "I'm going to stand by the statement that I gave."
The task force members so far are: Utah athletic director Chris Hill, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, former NFL player Charles Davis, former Stanford, Cal and Golden State Warriors coach Mike Montgomery and administrator Tom Jernstedt.
The group will present findings to administrators and athletic directors by the end of the first quarter next year and then share the results with the NCAA basketball commission and other collegiate leaders.
"We're highly concerned by the issues that have been exposed and its impact on all the great things that happen for student-athletes as part of college sports," Scott said.
Montgomery said he will begin by gathering information.
"Some people are going to tell you it's rampant and everybody's doing it, I don't think that's the case," said Montgomery, who heard from the Pac-12 and NCAA early in the week. "Obviously, if the FBI gets involved that's a little different level. I think as long as I've been in coaching for 42 years there's been stuff. You hear about it and you never really know for sure."
Along with Bland and Richardson, Auburn assistant Chuck Person and Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans also are under investigation. Washington State coach Ernie Kent warned against labeling them. The four are all African-American.
"I would caution" people not to assume "that this is a black assistant coach problem," Kent said. "This is a college basketball problem. People need to be well aware of that."
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley stressed the importance of head coaches having a voice in ideas to make things better going forward, while Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak can see the task force making an impact not only in the Pac-12 and out West but nationally.
"I think you're seeing the president of the NCAA and commissioner of our conference are being proactive," Krystkowiak said. "I can only hope that it's going to have some positive impact on the overall picture."
Colorado coach Tad Boyle said he hopes every guilty party is caught, that "everybody gets exposed" and noted the scandal "sheds some light on the underbelly of our sport ... I think it's a good thing."
"Hopefully we can purge the system of what needs to be purged," Boyle said. "Bottom line is this, there's a black market that's been exposed. That black market is not going away. We just have to learn how to deal with it."