Basketball, Sports

Haith’s ‘success’ at Missouri comes at Hurricanes’ expense

Former Miami  basketball coach and current Missouri coach Frank Haith was named national coach of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
The announcement came just three days after his Big 12 Championship season was spoiled by a first-round loss to 15-seed Norfolk State in the NCAA Tournament. The award credits Haith’s first season at Missouri, in which he inherited five senior rotation players and cruised to a record of 30 wins and five losses.
Not included in that impressive record, however, are the games still being lost at UM because of the footprint Haith left behind.
Miami, the second team left out of the tournament according to the selection committee, dealt with the suspensions of three players for a total of 14 games missed in Jim Larranaga’s first year as head coach of the Canes.
The cause for the suspensions to juniors Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson, and senior forward DeQuan Jones: benefits deemed impermissible by the NCAA that the players received under the watch of Haith and his staff.
Scott learned he was ineligible hours before a critical ACC Tournament game against FSU that, win or lose, would’ve swung the Canes’ tournament fate one way or the other.
Johnson’s news was also revealed on gameday against FSU, due to travel benefits given to his family.
Jones was originally ruled ineligible for his entire senior season as a precautionary measure during the NCAA’s investigation of former UM booster Nevin Shapiro.
Jones later appealed that suspension and was cleared to play more than a month into the season after missing 10 games. His shortened senior season ended up being his best statistically.
Haith spoke to the Associated Press recently about the Miami investigation.
“Obviously, I’ve got a muzzle in terms of what I can say, but I haven’t been able to say anything or know anything, to be honest with you,” Haith said. “When you see kids getting ineligible, just so you know, it doesn’t always mean that the coach is involved.
“So it can be a lot of different things. And they don’t voice whatever those things are. The speculation could be totally up to you all.”
I took a minute to absorb Haith’s comments, and upon realization that he wasn’t trying to be sarcastic, I confirmed to myself just how selfish he is to not take an ounce of responsibility for what transpired.
Haith has not only distanced himself as far as he can from the investigations, he’s now resorting to denying affiliation with the incidents.
His statement claiming a lack of involvement lies in direct conflict with UM’s release on the suspensions, which said that violations occurred under the previous coaching staff.
I’m not certain what Haith’s definition of “involved” would be. If he means he wasn’t the one cutting the checks or booking the flights, he may be correct on technicality. But for him to say he wasn’t involved is the worst claim a collegiate head coach could make against a student athlete.
Aside from winning games, isn’t the very responsibility of a coach to be involved? To be a life teacher? To give advice, not just when a player’s jump shot is off, but also when he struggles with personal matters off the court?
Let’s drop the clipboard and forget the proverbial X’s and O’s. You mean to tell me you had no idea about the infractions occurring within your basketball program, Frank?
Haith bolted from Miami just months before the release of the Yahoo! exposé that said Shapiro cascaded UM student-athletes with money, cars, gifts, prostitutes, and beyond.
You don’t think he saw this coming?
Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt and say he didn’t know and wasn’t involved, that would just confirm what we all speculated over the seven years he spent here when he mustered just one appearance in the Big Dance: He is not suited to coach collegiate athletes.
Oh, the irony of the story behind college basketball’s coach of the year.
The nation will see what Haith is really made of next year when he loses five of his seven rotation players. If the first round tournament loss to Norfolk State bears any foreshadowing, it’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

March 21, 2012

Reporters

David Furones

Senior Sports Writer


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