BY Todd Dybas 10:37AM 07/21/2011

Dybas: UW’s Chillious gets the short end from NCAA

Washington’s assistant hoops coach now has a moderate violation on his resume. That’s because the NCAA came to a misguided conclusion over an odd circumstance.

Washington assistant coach Raphael Chillious was cited for a secondary violation. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Raphael Chilliousreputation is slightly stained since the Washington assistant coach now has those two dreaded words attached him: recruiting violation.

It shouldn’t be.

The poppycock that led the NCAA to rule Chillious committed a secondary violation by commenting on recruits in a Sports Illustrated story will not be recalled in the near future. Most fans will forget circumstance, and just recall, ‘Hey, isn’t that the guy with a recruiting violation?”

Chillious’ future employer — he has too many Nike ties and is too charismatic to remain an assistant much longer — will ask him two questions to open the interview: How are you? Can you explain this violation?

No one would blame Chillious if he sighed prior to telling his possible new boss he thought he was in the clear for the story.

Or if he was exasperated when he went on to explain he was talking to an old friend from Nike in Nederland, Texas, and was asked why he was in town. He answered by mentioning a recruit. The Sports Illustrated writer adjacent to him wrote it down, as Chillious knew he would, and that resulted in a violation.

How that became this, a violation of rule 13.10.2.1, well, Chillious can’t be quite sure of that.

The rule is known by coaches and reporters. It’s there so people associated with a program can’t recruit through the media. No statements about how great Johnny is in order to get him on campus.

Aware of this, Sports Illustrated writer Bruce Schoenfeld called the NCAA while reporting for the story. He explained to NCAA men’s basketball enforcement honcho LuAnn Humphrey what he was writing about, and how he was doing it.

Schoenfeld rode around with Chillious and other assistants in an attempt to unmask what recruiters go through. He explained the circumstance to Humphrey. According to Schoenfeld, she was thankful for the explanation because it would allow the NCAA to assess things with more clarity when the story was published.

“Her exact quote was, ‘It’s great to know this, because when it comes out, we’ll be able to look at it with that in mind. Great to know that’s how you did it,’ ” Schoenfeld said. “Really led me to believe that these guys would be safe, unless of course, they committed (obvious) violations. In which case, whatever. If I wrote about some guy handing money to somebody or paying for whatever, then, yeah, a violation’s a violation.”

Chillious was soothed to a degree by Schoenfeld’s explanation of his conversation with Humphrey.

“The intent of the rule is to keep coaches from recruiting through the media, and I get that,” Schoenfeld said. “But he didn’t go through the media at all. He was just talking to a friend of his.”

Everyone would like to know why the NCAA interpreted Chillious’ actions as a violation. It appears a variance of the rule, and that an investigation would show that. But the NCAA did not call Schoenfeld during its investigation. Nor would it comment afterward, saying through a spokesperson that the organization does not comment on secondary violations.

Chillious and Washington have also chosen not to comment. Their preference to let it be, is not a surprise. No one expects him to come out and say the NCAA burned him, even if he felt that way. Presumably, he has a lot of coaching in front of him.

That leaves Schoenfeld. He’s irate.

“I’m not supposed to cause a violation, (the coach) is,” Schoenfeld said. “The NCAA isn’t trying to limit my power, it’s trying to limit his. And yet the exact same words he could have said to (the Nike rep), would have been totally fine to say to a guy who works for Nike, but because I was sitting on the other side of him, it’s a violation. So, I caused a violation. It’s absurd.”

Schoenfeld had numerous exceptional things to say about Chillious, who took Cameron Dollar’s spot on the Washington staff in April, 2009. The writer repeatedly said he’s personally “sick” about the process and result of a violation from the story.

“In the context of what I saw, Lorenzo Romar could not have a more conscientious and rule-abiding assistant, more morally sound assistant than Raphael Chillious,” Schoenfeld said. “He actively feels that his rule-abiding becomes an advantage. That because he won’t break the rules, he kind of weeds out the kids who want to come there for the wrong reason.

“Raphael seems to be, from what I saw, walking the talk. And as a result I think the program is immeasurably better off. They’re not going to have problems in the future. If a guy like that gets a violation… I just throw up my hands. It’s just stupid.“

Not sure if the most humorous or harrowing part of this is what did not happen. Schoenfeld’s original story was much longer than the one that appeared in the magazine. That version contained comments from other assistants about other recruits. Since they did not make it through the editing process, they won’t be hit with violations.

UCLA is waiting to hear back from the Pac-12 about comments its former assistant, Scott Duncan, made in the article. The Bruins contacted the conference when they saw the article. As of now, Chillious’ penalty is the only publicly confirmed one.

This all needs to be absorbed with the context of the NCAA having to police substantially different levels of programs and problems with flat rules. Sisyphus would rather his rock.

But when humans are called in to interpret, level-headed conclusion followed by explanation should be expected. Especially in odd circumstance such as this.

“I would be indignant if this happened to a guy who seems to be as good a guy as Raphael, I would be indignant if this happened to him by happenstance,” Schoenfeld said. “But since I caused this, like I said, I’m just sick about it.

“I was assuming that everyone operated under the understanding that we seemed to have and the use of logic. But, in the end, that didn’t turn out to be the case either way.”

The simple remedy would have been for Chillious to never utter a word with a reporter, known or not, within Miracle Ear distance. But he did.

That left it to the NCAA to determine intent, which it did without talking with the author during the formal investigation.

It’s a combination that forces Chillious to future explanation of a past misdeed, and the NCAA again looking like a blindfolded bureaucracy. Yet another loss-loss for college basketball.


YourThoughts

  • Jon

    Way to follow up on this Todd.  Great stuff.

  • Jon

    Way to follow up on this Todd.  Great stuff.

  • Pixel13

    If the NCAA doesn’t cite the Bruin assistant for the same violation, it becomes even more clear they have one set of rules for the bellwether programs, and another for the rest.
    Also seems like Chillious should retain an attorney in that case.

  • Pixel13

    If the NCAA doesn’t cite the Bruin assistant for the same violation, it becomes even more clear they have one set of rules for the bellwether programs, and another for the rest.
    Also seems like Chillious should retain an attorney in that case.

  • SeattleSkate

    Luann Humphrey is a sanctimonious idiot.  These people need to be reigned in

  • SeattleSkate

    Luann Humphrey is a sanctimonious idiot.  These people need to be reigned in