Providence recruit battle comes to a head

First, a quick recap.

Joseph Young, one of Keno Davis' 2010 recruits at Providence, no longer wants to be one of Keno Davis' 2010 recruits at Providence. Young asked the Friars for a release from his NLI, citing his desire to remain at home with his family in Houston, where his aunt is awaiting a heart transplant. Davis denied Young's request, saying he expected Young to "honor that commitment." Michael Young, Joseph's father, is also the newly appointed director of basketball operations at Houston (many expected Young to play at Houston upon his release). Since it wasn't given, Young appealed with the national letter of intent office.

Got all that? Good. Because today, the story moved forward again: Young's appeal to the NLI authority was denied. That means he has to either show up to Providence and play -- not an option, according to his father -- or sit out a year and look elsewhere in 2011. Which means Young is going to sit out and look elsewhere.

Needless to say, Michael Young is none too pleased with his son's would-be coach. Nor is he particularly happy with the NLI committee. From MyFoxHouston:

"I'm really disappointed and so is Joseph," Michael Young said. "The NLI system is crap. I think the whole process is unfair."

"There's no chance in hell that Joseph would ever go to Providence," Michael Young said. "Joseph is going to sit out a year. I guess he doesn't have a choice."

And as for Davis?

"He's a bad guy," Michael Young said. "Anytime you deny a kid from something he has worked so hard for all of these years and kids are very emotional about situations like this. Keno Davis and Providence had no sympathy for this situation. Keno said he doesn't care who is ill.

"When you have guys like that who are vultures that lie to kids, because when they have family problems they don't back them."

I'm not sure that last part is a complete sentence, but you get the point. Michael Young is angry. But is he right?

Yes, he is. Frequent readers will be familiar with this blogger's feelings about the NLI system. It creates an imbalance of power between players and coaches. Coaches are free to leave jobs -- jobs they're paid handsomely for, remember -- whenever the next contract comes along. Players, on the other hand, sign a letter of intent that binds them to the school and makes it almost impossible to depart if the NLI advisory fails to see "extenuating circumstances" in the recruit's decision to appeal for his release. In the meantime, coaches can discontinue a player's NLI after each season. And if a player wants to transfer, it (usually) takes a year of waiting to do so.

That's the system we have right now. And while every case is different, and in some instances you can understand a coach's desire to keep his recruits from leaving -- if other schools appear to be tampering, for example -- the system is built on inequality. It's obviously unfair.

Most cases don't come to this; most programs allow their players to transfer, though some impose conditions on the player's possible destinations. Usually, things don't get this bad.

There's a reason for that, and it's a reason Davis doesn't seem to understand: It's bad for business. Why seem like an imposing, inflexible dictator to potential recruits? Why make a recruiting standoff the dominant story of your offseason? (Unless you're Davis, and your offseason couldn't possibly get worse.) Why try to keep a player who clearly doesn't want to come to your program? How is that good for your team? How is the benefit greater than the cost?

It's baffling, really. And until the system is revised, or recruits stop signing NLIs altogether, coaches and athletic directors have to do the prudent thing.

In other words, they should do everything Keno Davis did with Joseph Young. Only, you know, the exact opposite of that.