Missouri wants to raise money for Joplin

May, 31, 2011
Missouri and Missouri Southern officials are working on getting a waiver from the NCAA to conduct a charity exhibition game in late October, with all the proceeds going to the people of Joplin, Mo.

The NCAA shouldn't hesitate.

It would be a public relations disaster for the NCAA to turn down this request. The Tigers have already committed and budgeted for two exhibition games in the fall. And the purpose is not to take money out of the school budget for a game. The intent would be to have all of the proceeds for a game at the Division II school in Joplin go toward disaster relief from the deadly tornado that ripped through the city on May 22.

The death toll will likely rise. The reconstruction will take months, if not years, to complete.

"What we want to do is continue to bring awareness to their struggle," said new Missouri coach Frank Haith. "As soon as things like this happen, people are motivated and aware. But then they forget about it. We want to make sure this stays in people's mind."

Haith was part of a University of Missouri contingent that made the three-hour drive to Joplin last Thursday. St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell documented the day.

"You can't imagine until you see the destruction," Haith said. "It was unbelievable. There was sheet metal wrapped around trees. The cars were tossed around like toy cars. Buildings were flattened. But the people there were so resilient. We saw it when we were in the shelters. We tried to put smiles on their faces."

Joplin is roughly three hours from Columbia. It's much closer to the University of Arkansas. But Missouri is the state school and there is a real push to ensure there is a strong presence by the university in the reconstruction.

Giving Mizzou a third exhibition game, likely before the first two, shouldn't even be an issue for the NCAA. Not approving this would not only be a PR disaster, but also simply the wrong thing to do.

• Damon Stoudamire told me two weeks ago in Chicago that he never played with Josh Pastner at Arizona but he respected him, really liked him and admired what he was doing at Memphis in such a short time.

Pastner was recruiting Stoudamire away from the NBA, in much the same manner that he recruits a player. He was convincing him that the Tigers would be better off with the longtime NBA guard on board. And they will be. The hiring of Stoudamire away from the local Memphis Grizzlies staff is a home run for Pastner. There's little doubt Stoudamire will help the team's guards play with more confidence, intelligence and purpose on every possession.

Pastner wasn't intimidated when he hired veteran assistant Glynn Cyprien for the original top assistant spot. He wasn't threatened by hiring former head coach Willis Wilson, either. Now both are gone -- Cyprien to Texas A&M as an assistant and Wilson as head coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

"He's going to help us a lot," Pastner said. "He's been at the highest level. He's got a ton of experience."

Stoudamire also has a presence, even though he's a compact guard. None of the Memphis guards are going to trick Stoudamire or fool him in any manner. He knows the game these young guys will play at times. He has seen it all and will know how to motivate the players. Adding strength and conditioning coach Frank Matrisciano, who helped remold Blake Griffin's body in San Francisco, will also help.

• Kudos to Hofstra head coach Mo Cassara for giving Patrick Sellers a second chance. Sellers was exonerated by the NCAA in the UConn case, even though he was forced out during the investigation. Sellers coached last season in China. He said he thought he was on the verge of a head-coaching job before the NCAA investigation. Now he has to work his way back up again, joining Steve DeMeo on the Cassara staff. Sellers is well-connected in the Northeast and is personable. This should help him restart his career.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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