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July 9, 2009

Secondary violations still violations

It's been mostly related to football, but that hasn't stopped the SEC's basketball coaches from chiming in.

A rash of secondary NCAA violations among the football recruiting trail -- see Tennessee and Auburn, since each hired new coaches -- has college athletics' governing body beginning to further police several processes. Secondary violations are mostly considered trivial, but if every coach judges them that way and continues to do them ...

See the problem?

"It's not something I've spent a lot of time thinking about," Vanderbilt basketball coach Kevin Stallings said last week. "I'm guessing that some of the same coaches who think that a secondary violation is worth getting a big-time recruit for are the same ones who think a major violation is worth getting one as well."

There's the problem. Auburn football coach Gene Chizik boldly proclaimed that if he had to break a secondary rule or two in order to get a high-profile recruit, then so be it. Tennessee's Lane Kiffin has committed six secondary violations while pledging to bring the Volunteers' program back to the forefront, despite never coaching a college game.

If every coach takes that attitude, either the NCAA will have to hand out harsher penalties for secondary violations or re-adjust the rulebook. It already resembles any major city's phonebook.

"I don't know if they're a growing problem," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "I will tell you this. You'll probably start reading about much stiffer penalties with secondary violations."

Most of the problems have come from football -- or at least, most of the problems that have crept into consciousness in this YouTube-funneled world. The SEC's basketball coaches, speaking on a teleconference last week, said they didn't see much growth on their side of the trail, but it was something to watch.

Text-messaging to recruits has already been outlawed. Simulating game-day experiences has been cut out. There's no telling what will be removed next, in the name of trying to make recruiting a fair process for everyone.

"I think secondary violations, depending on the nature of the violations," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said, "I think it's a positive when you have a mistake. When you have a coach saying, 'I'm going to do it anyway to gain an advantage,' then that's a different situation."

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