Worst-case scenario realized at Binghamton

October, 12, 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the recent dismissal of six Binghamton players, we will not be posting the now-outdated Blue Ribbon preview of the Bearcats. Below you will find Andy Katz's Oct. 12 update on the situation and click on this link for the latest information on the school's coaching situation.

America East teams have won a total of six NCAA tournament games since 1980, the last one being Vermont's thrilling first-round upset of Syracuse in 2005.

This is not a league that commands a lot of attention. Yet, for weeks now, all the outside focus on the America East has been centered on the chaos at Binghamton, a fledgling Division I member that won the conference title last season and was awarded the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

D.J. Rivera -- the Bearcats' leading scorer last season and a large part of their success -- was granted a waiver to play immediately after transferring from Saint Joseph's without sitting out a year.

Many coaches around the league questioned that decision last year. The issue has come to the forefront again this offeason after the news that Rivera -- along with five others -- was dismissed from the America East favorites last month. Binghamton, which lost to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament in March, is a shell of its former self and will slide down the America East standings this season.

Also gone from the roster are Malik Alvin, Paul Crosby, David Fine, recent transfer from Rutgers Corey Chandler (who had a shorter tenure after transferring than even Nate Miles did at Connecticut last year) and Emanuel "Tiki" Mayben, who recently was arraigned on and pleaded not guilty to cocaine possession and distribution charges.

Within the past week, FoxSports.com reported that Binghamton coach Kevin Broadus talked to Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) guards Michael Glenn and Antoine Myers on the first day of the evaluation period. Coaches cannot speak to recruits during an evaluation period. Broadus denied talking to the recruits, but according to FoxSports.com, the players said they did speak with Broadus.

Binghamton later self-reported the secondary violation. Then, on Monday morning, interim athletic director James Norris said Broadus and his staff won't be allowed to go off campus to recruit until November.

Coaches in the America East have been silent. They won't go on the record about Binghamton. And yet, privately, there is a growing disgust for the perception the league is getting nationally.

America East commissioner Patrick Nero won't comment on what this has done to perception of his league, either. Instead, Nero said in an e-mail that "it's not appropriate for me to speak about Binghamton until the SUNY system finishes their report and I have a chance to read it." Nero said he has no inside knowledge of what is going on at the school.

Boston University, Vermont, New Hampshire, Albany, Stony Brook, Maryland-Baltimore County, Hartford and Maine all are lost amid the mess that is Binghamton.

Sure, BU and Vermont are the new favorites, and one of them likely will represent the conference well in March. But the stain on the conference is already there and might get worse as coaches wonder whether Broadus will be coaching the Bearcats when practice opens Friday or when Binghamton gets a nationally televised game on ESPN2 on Nov. 17 at Pitt in the College Basketball Experience Classic.

"In the short term, everybody gets dragged into it a little bit, and I think it's unfortunate because the majority of other schools are handling their business the way they should,'' former Boston University coach Dennis Wolff said. Wolff said he was outspoken in league meetings when Rivera was granted the waiver to play immediately last year. Another coach, who wouldn't go on the record, said he spoke out about putting in rules that forbid schools from taking one-year transfers.

Wolff said there is residual fallout from the constant negative news.

"It doesn't stop, and the only publicity the league is getting is from Binghamton,'' Wolff said. "I don't think this should be any great surprise to anybody. There were a lot of compromises made and there were always great risks to those compromises. Whatever the worse-case scenario might have been, the worst-case scenario came true.''

The New York Times has covered the story well from its inception, starting with Broadus trying to do a quick fix by taking second- or third-chance players. The problem with taking so many high-risk players is that it could blow up all at once, as has been the case this fall.

Broadus once told ESPN.com that he wanted to get the program turned around quickly and get to the NCAA tournament. He did that, and he got a contract extension through 2013-14 two seasons after arriving on campus following a 23-9 season. But an America East program isn't going to compete for a national title. There are those rare instances when it will win an NCAA tournament game, but that's probably it. So why take so many risks?

"It's a mid-major league that gets one bid,'' Wolff said. "I was in it for 15 years. I don't remember anything like this in any of the previous 14 years. I'm of the opinion that it has drawn so much attention to the league -- negatively -- that it's going to be a while for it to settle down and focus on the good stuff going on in the league.''

• Louisville won't say what internal discipline Rick Pitino will dole out to basketball players Jerry Smith and Terrence Jennings, who were arrested on misdemeanor charges of resisting law enforcement Saturday. No one will say whether this will affect their status for the start of practice Friday or for any games next month.

But this clearly was serious. Jennings was arrested and hit with a police Taser, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Smith is a co-captain. He showed no leadership by allegedly getting into a fracas at an alumni homecoming party in nearby Jeffersonville, Ind.

Pitino has had his most tumultuous offseason in his career after admitting to an extramarital affair, allegedly being extorted for that affair for $10 million and awaiting the trial date of the woman accused of that extortion. The last thing Pitino needed was for his players to misbehave and get involved in this kind of activity.

How Pitino handles the arrests of two key players should say a lot about what to expect the rest of this season. The tolerance level at Louisville can't be too high at this juncture for any more "poor choices" of behavior.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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