Urban Meyer took some heat this when the former Florida turned Ohio State coach was accused by fellow Big Ten coaches of breaking a gentlemen’s agreement.
Fellow Big Ten coaches were irked that Meyer went after and signed players that were previously committed to Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said that the same gentlemen’s agreement exists in the college basketball coaching fraternity.
“I have the right to recruit,” Donovan said Friday. “But I think it’s kind of an unwritten or unspoken law in basketball that once a guy is committed, that’s it.”
Donovan pointed out former Gator center Al Horford as an example. Horford had committed early to Michigan. But Donovan said he would not pick up the phone to talk to Horford until Horford announced his de-commitment. Horford re-opened his recruitment in September of 2003 and signed with Florida in November of 2003.
“I’m not going to pick up the phone and talk to a kid that’s already committed somewhere and tell him why he shouldn’t go there and he’s making a mistake there,” Donovan said.
Donovan had a reputation of testing the margins of recruiting rules early in his Florida career, but accusations by Eddie Fogler, Roy Williams and Mike Montgomery were unsubstantiated. When Williams called in Donovan for cheating following Mike Miller’s recruitment, the NCAA only discovered secondary violations. Montgomery sent Florida a letter of apology in 2003 after accusing Donovan of cheating but having no proof to back up his claims.
On the other end of the spectrum, Donovan lost a high-profile commitment when 2012 point guard Austin Rivers re-opened his recruitment. Rivers had committed to UF following his freshman year of high school. The top point guard prospect and son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers signed with Duke.
“I think every kid has got that priority,” Donovan said. “I don’t know if other schools were tampering with Austin or talking to him. I have no idea.
“It’s just one of those things were I don’t do that. I would say that most college basketball coaches don’t do that once a guy is committed. I would say across the board, that’s generally the consensus.”
Donovan said he realizes that football is different after talking with former and current Florida coaches.
“In basketball, it’s just a different mindset,” he said.
Is Donovan naive to think tampering and negative recruiting doesn’t exist with players that already are committed to other schools? What are your thoughts?