Rivals, Others, Calling out UTEP's Tim Floyd for Alleged "Package Deal" Hire

First, it was everybody's favorite Memphis columnist.  Then, it was the Big Lead and Rival's.  Now, it's ESPN's turn.  

As noted late last week in the FanShots, Tim Floyd hired Former HEAT Academy coach Jason Niblett as his third assistant coach.  The Martinsville Bulletin was first to report the hire.  Last spring, The NCAA passed legislation banning "package deals," where a coach hires a high school coach or relative of a recruit to an operations position, presumably in exchange for the coach delivering a recruit.  HEAT, of course, produced two UTEP signees, Michael Haynes and Desmond Lee.

What the new Floyd critics don't seem to care to address is the fact that the new rule, Bylaw 13.8.2.2, isn't intended to bar the promotion of high school coaches into the college ranks.  It's designed to keep coaches from hiring several "Director of Basketball Operations" guys.  A division 1 basketball coach only get's three assistants.  He can't afford to burn one in exchange for a player.  He needs guys who can run practices, be competent to step in if necessary, and most importantly, he needs guys who can recruit.

Here's the Text of the Rule:

13.8.3.2 Individual Associated with a Prospective Student-Athlete -- Men's Basketball. In men's basketball, during a two-year period before a prospective student-athlete's anticipated enrollment and a two-year period after the prospective student-athlete's actual enrollment, an institution shall not employ (or enter into a contract for future employment with) an individual associated with the prospective student-athlete in any athletics department noncoaching staff position.

No time for a full, extended post right now, but I wanted to be sure that Miner fans know that no rules have been broken here.  Did Floyd find a loophole?  Maybe, maybe not.  According to the article, Niblett has received "two or three offers a year" to join a collegiate staff.  Clearly, he knows a thing or two about basketball.  As a player, he took East Tennessee State to the 2nd round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament.  He played pro basketball in France for six seasons.  He clearly knows a bit about basketball, too. 

I'm not a big fan of prep schools, or basketball factories.  I think Niblett was incredibly up front with the press and NCAA with the format behind the HEAT school (Check out this great Washington Post article that explains the HEAT's philosophy of "outsourcing academics").  I know that recruiting for HEAT, he has made invaluable recruiting contacts across the south and east coast that alone validate the hire from a basketball standpoint.  Tim Floyd wants to hire recruiters, in Jason Niblett, he got his man.

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