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Outside the Lines: Big Business of Summer Basketball

Anchor: Bob Ley

Guests: Gene Keady, Purdue basketball coach; Roy Kramer,SEC commisioner; Sonny Vaccaro, adidas.

Reported by: Tom Farrey ,

Coordinating producer: Jonathan Ebinger

Bob Ley, Host - Imagine a place where the interests of the NCAA, sneaker companies, college basketball coaches, and talented young players all collide. We're going there next.

Among our live guests, insider Sonny Vaccaro, next on OUTSIDE THE LINES.

Announcer - July 30th, 2000.

Ley - Summer ball. It's where basketball stars bloom and where the NCAA intends to crack down.

Eddie Fogler, South Carolina Head Coach - July is a time where perhaps many of the abuses that occur in recruiting can and do happen.

Nolan Richardson, Arkansas Head Coach - I see some kids bought and sold. To me, that's not right.

Ley - There are unregulated coaches, sneaker money, and escalating pressure.

Maurice Taylor, Former Children's Medical Hospital Summer Team Assistant Coach - You're going to have kids being solicited at age 9, 10, 11, 12. You know, you're going to have to ask yourself, "Where will it end?"

Ley - Today, on OUTSIDE THE LINES, the big business of summer basketball.

Announcer - OUTSIDE THE LINES is presented by 1-800-CALL-ATT.

Joining us from ESPN studios, Bob Ley.

Ley - When the topic is summer basketball, the emperor has no clothes, though he's probably pretty well set for sneakers. If everybody is in the basketball business for the kids, why is everyone at each other's throat?

The NCAA -- in it for the kids -- enjoying a $1.6-billion TV contract it takes great pains to point out is not really a lot of money among many schools over a number of years.

NIKE and Adidas who portray their interest in summer ball as altruistic. Over several years, NIKE paid nearly a half-million dollars to a single summer league coach.

In that loose profession where they're all in it for the kids, this summer league coach sits in jail awaiting sentencing, an easy target as the root cause of all this upheaval.

There are the college coaches, the best of whom earn more in sneaker money than in straight coaching salary; the always bogeyman agents, who do not ask us to believe they are in it for the kids; and the summer league players, the kids themselves, the best of whom now think NBA before they can even drive, some of whom, it has been shown, willing to accept money and a lot of it.

But, more than ever, it is the summer league coach who is in the crosshairs. ESPN.COM's Tom Farrey shows us a world the NCAA is determined to change.

Tom Farrey, ESPN Correspondent (voice-over) - He has the dunk. He has the funk. Amare Stoudemire is, in the words of one of the hundreds of scouts watching him last week, filet mignon, as in what's not to like.

Bob Gibbons, All-Star Sports Report - Based on his play this summer, I think he's the top junior, if not player period -- top junior big man in the nation, and -- with the potential to be an Alonzo Mourning-type player if he keeps developing.

Farrey (on camera) - NBA lottery pick right out of the high school?

Gibbons - That's possible.

Farrey (voice-over) - For now, though, much of the power with that power forward rests with this man, Travis King (ph). That's because King is his summer team basketball coach, the type of person that can wield enormous influence on the lives of blue-chip prospects, a type that some believe has made the high school coach obsolete.

Richardson - Some of the summer league coaches have -- they help the young man make the decision where he's going to play basketball. Let's just be straight up and honest.

Farrey (on camera) - Here at AAU Junior National Boys Tournament in Orlando, each player gets a T-shirt reminding college coaches that they cannot talk to players. But they sure can talk to coaches like King.

Unidentified Scout - We'll give you a buzz. We will give you a buzz.

Farrey (voice-over) - In the old days, the high school coach was the key figure in a star player's career. But that was before Michael Jordan and his best-selling shoe and before the NCAA began allowing high school players to sign with colleges prior to their senior season and before Kevin Garnett went straight to the NBA. Now everyone must recruit players earlier than ever, elevating the importance of the summer all-star circuit of national tournaments.

Fogler - Certainly, there are some excellent AAU coaches who are in it for the right reasons, who want kids to get seen, viewed, and -- and to pick the schools that are best for them. There are others, unfortunately -- there's a minority but, unfortunately perhaps, a strong group of those who have selfish motives involved.

Farrey - One of those coaches is now sitting in a jail cell for his actions. Myron Peggy (ph), a former crack dealer, pled guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud after paying players on his team.

Maurice Taylor was an assistant coach on Peggy's team. He was not implicated in any wrongdoing.

Taylor - You should do things for all the right reasons, and -- and helping kids -- that's a good enough reason within itself, but sometimes we as individuals get sidetracked by seeing certain things out there and are oftentimes tempted by them. So I think that that's where things started to go a little bit astray.

Gibbons - The responsibility then for Amare Stoudemire's future and his well-being rests with Travis King.

Farrey - And not only does King coach him, he lives with him. Stoudemire moved in earlier this year, about the same time King became coach of NIKE-sponsored Team Florida. As his educational guardian, King will help him pick a new high school to attend this fall and then perhaps a college -- or whether to go to college at all.

(on camera) - How much will you lean on him when that time comes?

Amare Stoudemire, Basketball Player - I ask him anything, you know. It doesn't matter. I ask him what college to go to and ask him what -- his opinion on this certain college. I ask him for it.

Farrey (voice-over) - The decisions that Stoudemire makes could benefit King. When fellow Floridian Tracy McGrady went straight from the preps to the NBA in 1997, he gave his coach and the street agent who found him a cut of his Adidas shoe contract.

(on camera) - Do you find anything wrong with -- about what Tracy did?

Stoudemire - No, ain't nothing wrong with that. I'm going to take care of the people who took care of me. That's for sure.

Farrey - In what kind of way?

Stoudemire - Well, whatever way. I'll buy him a house, whatever. You know, he took care of me, so I've got to pay him back some way.

Farrey (voice-over) - King says his decision to coach the team cost him his job with the AAU national office. Until June 20th, King managed the same tournament that Team Florida competed in last week. The split was especially awkward because King considers himself an adopted son to AAU president Bobby Dodd. Dodd even bought the house that King's family, along with Stoudemire, now lives in.

Travis King, Basketball Coach - I think that people are suspect, thinking we're in it for something. You know, I -- I have never asked -- I've had three or four kids play for me that play in the NBA -- never asked them for a dime and never will.

Farrey - That's the way the AAU and NCAA want it, but summer couches are accountable to no one, so the temptation to use kids for their personal gain will always be there. There's simply too much money on the table from shoe companies, agents, financial planners, the NBA, and others.

Richardson - There's two things that I've always been very disappointed in in my life, and number one was slavery and prostitution, and -- see, when you sell and buy, I have a problem with that, and I know that selling and buying takes place, and since I'm so against that -- I see some kids bought and sold. To me, that's not right, and so you're going to find those few people that are out there doing that, and the rest of the guys who are really busting their tail trying to do what's right for a young man will be punished for it.

Fogler - We need to some way somehow put the recruiting process back into the high school, back to the high school coach, back to the family.

Farrey - The NCAA has already made a move in that direction, reducing the summer evaluation period next year for coaches from 24 to 14 days. Other options are being studied.

Bobby Dodd, AAU President and Executive Director - The window is critical to those mid-level schools. It's critical to that mid-level athlete. You know, a lot of people say you can educate them or you can incarcerate them, and I think, through the summer basketball program, we've had the opportunity to educate a whole lot of people.

Farrey (on camera) - No matter what happens in the coming months, summer basketball isn't going away. It's just too valuable to too many people, including players. The question is whether the adults who surround them can reduce the potential for abuse.

For OUTSIDE THE LINES, I'm Tom Farrey.

Ley - Next, we discuss summer league basketball with a veteran head college basketball coach, a powerful college sports administrator, and a man who is at ground zero in the sneaker wars.

Announcer - OUTSIDE THE LINES is presented by 1-800-CALL-ATT for collect calls.

Ley - Summer basketball. Can it be changed? Should it be changed?

This morning, we are joined from West Lafayette, Indiana, by Purdue head basketball coach Gene Keady, who is preparing for his 21st season with the Boilermakers; from Townsend, Tennessee, by Roy Kramer, the chairman of the Southeastern Conference and a leading figure in NCAA matters; and from Los Angeles, Sonny Vaccaro, the man credited with bringing Michael Jordan to NIKE 16 years ago. He now works with Adidas.

Roy, the culture of the summertime. That is a phrase that Seth Dempsey (ph) has put out there at the Final Four. You've talked about that. What is the culture of the summertime?

Roy Kramer, SEC Commisioner - Well, I think you've just seen that culture, Bob, and that's the culture we have to change. We have to find a way to address that. I'm well aware of the pressures that are there to win. I'm well aware of the major college programs. But to be a part of that culture is not what intercollegiate athletics is about, and we have some legal...

Ley - What specifically about it, though, Roy?

Kramer - Well, I don't think...

Ley - What specifically about it?

Kramer - I think a number of ways. I think the fact that we have allowed the corporate world to take over a significant part of the recruiting process in these summer camps, we've permitted the outside influences to take over the summer leagues, the outside summer leagues that are out there, the teams that are traveling all over the world. We're forcing these young people into a basketball world at an age far too in advance of where we should be doing it.

And we should take the college -- whether we'll end that or not, I don't know, but we need to take intercollegiate athletics out of that world and bring it into the world in which it is meant to be, which is an educational process based upon the process of the -- of the high schools and the high school coach and the family and the community in which that young man lives and not by the outside influences which we -- have permitted to bring it about to the situation we're in today.

Ley - Outside influence. Sonny Vaccaro, I think he's talking about you.

Sonny Vaccaro, Adidas Executive - This is like silly. The guy has no idea what he's talking about. First of all, he's never experienced this here at all. And second of all is I -- I -- the word -- the culture thing -- it upsets the heck out of me.

Let me understand something here. Is that the reason we had the scandal in Minnesota for grades? Is that the reason we cheat all the time? Is that the reason we point shaved in Northwestern? Is that who's to blame? The summer league guy? The summer league guy is not to blame.

Let's go back a little, Mr. Kramer, OK. Let's go back to the '60s and '70s when the high school guys had control. You want to go back to all your cheating scandals in the '60s, the '70s where high school coaches directly controlled these kids? As you say, control.

This is way out of line. The corporate -- you took the corporations' money. Then you tell the corporation you can't give it to the 16- or 17-year-old guys.

I don't understand the whole premise of this, Bob. They want to eliminate this stuff, and they want to take their guys away from it, take their coaches away? There are a lot of good college coaches. A lot of guys have morals and ethics and recruit fairly. That's wonderful.

But you talk about family structure? A lot of the kids we're talking about have no family structure. That outside is a guy that may be from the Boys' Club or the church league or something that's really taking it upon himself to help a group. You isolate it just because of Myron Peggy.

You -- you want me to go into like high school coaches and other things?

Ley - Well, let's -- let's stop for just...

Vaccaro - This is silly.

Ley - I want -- I want Gene Keady to tell us how important summer basketball is to recruiting to you. How much -- how much business do you get done as a staff at summertime?

Gene Keady, Purdue Head Basketball Coach - Well, it's very important, Bob. We -- we would like to use the term "atmosphere" -- change the atmosphere some way.

We met two weeks ago in Vegas with the division when coaches had great dialogue. The NCAA was represented by two of their administrators there. We came out of that meeting with a good feeling. I think the atmosphere needs to be changed, and we all need to get probably around a table and talk about it.

Next Thursday was going to be four or five coaches. Jim Heney (ph), the executive director of NABC (ph), is going to be there with the NCAA. So we hope that, when they develop the basketball issues committee, they have two or three coaches on that. That's going to happen probably in November, and then, in December, they may start meeting.

So "accessibility" is the key word for us. We want to be able to watch all levels of talent. We want to watch the small-town kids. We want to watch the inner-city kids. We want to watch the states that don't have much population. So...

Ley - It's basically one-stop shopping for a coach. It's very cost efficient to go to a tournament and watch several hundred kids. It saves you a lot of money, doesn't it?

Keady - Yes, if we go to -- and -- and -- if it goes to zero days in the summer, now we're going to have to be away from our players in the fall, and the -- the freshmen especially really need us, and we're going to spend a lot more money. So cost containment has always been an issue with all administrators, and that would be a -- a big factor.

Ley - All right. Roy Kramer, basically Sonny Vaccaro said the NCAA doesn't get it in the lives of these kids.

Kramer - Well, first of all, Sonny's in a different world, and that's fine, and I understand where he comes from, but I think Gene Keady...

Ley - Well, he's not in a different world because he's dealing with...

Kramer - ... Gene Keady...

Ley - ... college coaches and college athletes all the time.

Kramer - I...

Ley - I mean, these...

Kramer - Gene Keady is right on board. I'll accept his word "atmosphere." But Gene is correct, and I think those standards need to be set by the coaches, by the administrators, by our college presidents, the people who significantly monitor and manage the programs of intercollegiate athletics, not by some outside individual representing some corporate body that really has no interest and no line of accountability to what intercollegiate athletics is about.

Will some of these athletes go directly to the NBA? Certainly. That will never change. Some of them probably should. I have no problem with that. I have no problem with the young man coming out early and going if that's the direction he wants to go.

But what we ought to do is run our programs based on the 95 percent of our student athletes, not on the 3 or 4 or 5 percent that make the headlines and are the kind of individuals we're talking about, and I think we have to get back to ground zero to do that. You can't just rub an ointment on the skin, you have to have major surgery, and that's what we're in the middle of.

Ley - Sonny, what does an Adidas or a NIKE hope to gain by these associations with kids at age 15 and 16 and 17?

Vaccaro - Well, it's obvious. We're in a grassroots program. We get the -- the kids in the shoes. They take them back to their hometowns. That's a time-tested marketing, you know, hit, and I -- I have always said that. I've never disagreed with anyone who's said that we're not in it to make money also.

Ley - But also to ingratiate yourself with kids who are -- who could turn pro now...

Vaccaro - You know, Bob, that's...

Ley - ... at age 18.

Vaccaro - Bob, you know, that's so farfetched. You're talking about two or three people who do it, and we know -- we paid the money. We signed Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant. They signed Kevin Garnett. You know, we paid them millions of dollars. So it's not like because they wore my shoe.

The one thing I'd like to say here -- you know, you're talking about it -- this -- let's get to the main point of it. I think I would throw my hat in a ring and say, OK, I'm going to help Mr. Kramer. I'm going to help Coach Keady. Let's take the all-star game -- camps out of it. Let's take A, B, C, D, and let's take the NIKE camp out of it. But let's let the summer go. Let's let these kids play in Las Vegas and Orlando and through their AAU teams and their summer league teams.

You can't take these kids away from playing basketball in the summer, Bob. If you do, you're not going to destroy the kids. They're going to play. You're going to destroy college basketball as you know it. This early signing period is ridiculous because now they go visit a school for two days -- Gene knows this. They wine and dine them, take them parties, and they think that's the college atmosphere they're going into. There are so many mistakes make.

Kramer - Help me understand how going to Las Vegas helps that...

Ley - Roy -- Roy, you'll have a chance to respond in just a second as we continue with Gene Keady and Roy Kramer and Sonny Vaccaro in just a moment looking at summer league basketball on OUTSIDE THE LINES.

Ley - More now with Gene Keady, Roy Kramer, and Sonny Vaccaro.

Roy, I promised you a chance to respond to Sonny about the atmosphere. You were bringing up the point about Las Vegas when we had to go to break.

Kramer - Well, it's hard for me to understand how taking a young man to Las Vegas in the middle of the summer helps him to decide whether he's going to Purdue or Georgia or to -- or Michigan or whatever it is. That's the part of the atmosphere we have to change, and I think that's a...

Vaccaro - Hey, Mr. Kramer...

Kramer - ... very significant part.

Vaccaro - ... you guys -- you guys take your conventions there. You run that big tournament in Las Vegas.

Kramer - I've never been to -- I've never -- we've never had a convention there. The NCAA doesn't meet there.

Vaccaro - Oh, OK. Whatever. You're...

Kramer - You're taking everything out -- I would -- I would criticize those people. I...

Vaccaro - Let me...

Kramer - One of the largest - one of our largest summer camp operations is in the City of Las Vegas, and I've kept -- I've talked to our officials. I've taken our officials out of that. I've taken our connection with the officials out of that. That's not what we should be about...

Vaccaro - What? You're condemning Las Vegas? Come on. Let's...

Kramer - ... in college basketball.

Vaccaro - Las Vegas...

Kramer - That's -- we're in a major problem -- a major crisis of gambling, and we're taking our -- all of our college coaches and we're taking all of our players out to Las Vegas.

Vaccaro - Well, let's bomb Las Vegas. Let's get rid of it. What are we doing here?

Kramer - We ought to get them back on the college campus. We ought to get them back into the high school where athletics is managed in a way that we can administer it and with some control.

Vaccaro - Bob, can I address this?

Ley - Well, I -- let's stay off the Las Vegas bashing. I think we can establish it's...

Vaccaro - Yeah. OK.

Ley - ... it's a city, and it -- and legalized gambling -- but I -- let me just get to Gene Keady quickly, Sonny, for a second.

Vaccaro - Sure.

Ley - What does it say coming out of Las Vegas -- that big tournament that Sonny sponsors -- that everyone was talking about an eighth grader, Sebastian Telfare (ph) -- and now his name is out there on national television -- the best point guard there, Stefan Marberry's (ph) cousin, I do believe? What does it say now that coaches are talking about an eighth grader?

Keady - Well, I think that, you know, this is something that -- that's happened because of the atmosphere, and this needs to be changed. It's going to happen now. If they take us out of the mix in the summer, that's not going to help the -- our problems that we have. Two or three people can ruin it for everybody like any business.

But what I'd like to see and I think what the coaches have said in our meeting two weeks ago was that, if we could continue our 14 days in the summer and have like three weekends in the spring where we could evaluate the state players from your area, maybe then go to a regional area the next weekend, then still continue the AA -- AAU tournaments the third weekend, and -- now you've got a spring opportunity to evaluate these kids and change the atmosphere.

I think the fact that you let players -- or -- I'm sorry -- coaches go down on the floor and talk to the coaches, no matter whether it's AAU or any coach at the site, is ridiculous, that this -- this could help a little bit with taking us out of the mix as far as rushing down on the floor after every game and communicating with them because I think we're there to evaluate, find out what players we think will fit into our program, as far as attitude, abilities, and academic levels.

So I think there's a model out there for us. This is what we're going to try to achieve next Thursday, and -- in Indianapolis, and everybody needs to have a say in this because it's not just one party's fault.

Ley - Sonny, is it a fair statement that summer league coaches are unregulated?

Vaccaro - No. You know what? High school coaches are unregulated. I feel...

Ley - Well, no, they answer to athletic directors and boards of education and principals.

Vaccaro - And -- and high school coaches do and their students do fail. They don't qualify for the tests there. You send them to prep schools, which is now in vogue today.

Mr. Kramer, what I'm asking you to do is don't paint such a beautiful picture of high school coaches. It's not like when you and I were a child or Coach Keady was a child where the high school coach was -- was a ruler in the community. Some of these high school coaches don't teach in their school. They show up, they get their money, then they leave, and they go run their bars that they run and work -- and -- another job. Let's just be honest about this.

The grades situation -- all the problems you people in the NCAA had with grades this year because someone who paid for a test that -- to -- so they can go qualify for a prep school, that didn't happen from a summer league guy. That happened from a high school ill prepared to prepare this guy to go on educationally.

Ley - Let me give Roy a chance to respond here.


Kramer - Well, I think a great deal of that pressure comes from the fact that we elevate these young people, particularly the premier ones, at a very early age, and that's a product of this atmosphere. I think what Gene is saying is the very type of thing that we've got to work toward, but you can't get there until you make a major statement. We've gone on with this summer situation for a number of years without ever having anybody step forward to take any steps in the right direction.

Well, finally, by getting tough enough and taking some major surgery, we are getting the coaches involved, the coaches that can make some decisions here. We got -- we are getting administrators involved so that we can take it out of this summer pressure atmosphere where we are looking at eighth graders and ninth graders coming along, and that's where the problems begin, with the whole process of these young people understanding what the opportunities are and what the goals are and what the long-range aspirations are of an intercollegiate athletics, and until we get this back into that atmosphere, we'll have those problems.

Is every high school honest? Certainly not. Has every college coach not had a problem? Certainly not. But I believe within that system, there is the mechanism to manage it in a way that we can address those issues.

Ley - And that is where, gentlemen, we have to leave it. We are out of time.

Thanks this morning to Gene Keady, to Roy Kramer, and to Sonny Vaccaro.

And, next, we'll tell you about an upcoming chat session with one of the principals right in the middle of this issue of summer league basketball. The chat session is coming along tomorrow.

Ley - Last week's program focused on the allegations of a drug-testing cover-up by the United States Olympic Committee and the larger issue of performance-enhancing drug use by elite Olympic athletes, and among our guests, the world record holder in the long jump Mike Pal (ph).

Mike Pal, Long Jumper - We shouldn't have to prove our innocence. I mean, we're out here working hard, and we have a small window of opportunity to -- to show what -- the hard work we've done, and for somebody to come out and say a five-second blurb that's going to discredit work that we put in our whole lives -- I take personal offense at it. We don't have to prove ourselves. If somebody's doing something wrong, you prove somebody's doing something wrong.

Ley - Just this morning, word in from Australia of the theft of a thousand syringes containing the performance-enhancing drug EPO. The missing drugs are worth millions on the black market as we head towards the Sidney games. EPO cannot be detected by the traditional urine testing of athletes and, tomorrow, the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission will consider whether to institute blood testing in Sidney, blood testing that could detect drugs such as EPO.

Reminder that OUTSIDE THE LINES is online at The key word is "otlweekly." Check out our library of transcripts and streaming video of all our past programs as well as the place to register your input to our e-mail in box. Our address -

And tomorrow at 11 - 00 a.m. Eastern time, Tom Farrey moderates an chat session with AAU president Bobby Dodd on the topic of summer basketball, and your questions are welcome tomorrow online, 11 - 00 a.m. Eastern. A chat with the head of the AAU.

Announcer - OUTSIDE THE LINES is presented by 1-800-CALL-ATT for collect calls.

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