Was Brittney Griner's recruitment to Baylor on the up and up? Looks like maybe not. (Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE)
The Baylor basketball teams, fresh off a women's national championship and a men's Elite Eight appearance, might be dancing to a different tune soon.
A probe of the program started in 2008 after the recruitment of Brittney Griner and has been ongoing for the past 29 months. In that 2-plus year span, the Bears placed approximately 1,200 impermissible calls and texts to recruits combined for both programs. ESPN obtained 66 pages of documentation on these infractions, both major and secondary in nature.
Nearly all of the women's infractions rest on the recruitment of Griner, and began with reporting to the now-defunct NCAA Top Prospect Program. There were interviews between the NCAA, Griner and her father that detailed extra phone calls and contact that might be impermissible prior to her signing with the Lady Bears that started the investigative ball rolling.
Also noted in the article was further secondary violations during Griner's recruitment:
Impermissible contact between Mulkey and Griner is among the secondary violations detailed in the report. During Baylor's 2007 women's basketball elite camp, members of the coaching staff spoke with the Griners about the basketball program, academic requirements and the school in general both before and after the camp -- a violation of NCAA rules.
Also, during the spring and summer of 2008, Mulkey had impermissible contact with Griner's father when the coach and parent sat by one another at various AAU games and discussed what Brittney's experience would be like at Baylor. Brittney Griner played on the same AAU squad as Mulkey's daughter, Makenzie Robertson. Brittney Griner and Robertson are currently teammates at Baylor.
The Bears have already imposed some internal sanctions on both programs, including losing two of their 15 scholarships during their 2011-12 undefeated 40-0 season. Mulkey is also not permitted to participate in off-campus recruiting during the summer recruiting period (July 1-31). The NCAA infractions committee will now determine if Baylor's self-imposed restrictions are adequate or if the NCAA will levy more penalties. Their report on the case and any further disciplinary action could be handed down as early as this week.
What does this mean for the early 2013 favorite to repeat? Too soon to tell, in my book. Griner has already missed the declaration period to enter the 2012 WNBA Draft, so despite the potential turmoil she will be back at Baylor for her senior season. Since the Lady Bears went undefeated in a season that saw them with two less scholarships, it doesn't appear that personnel limitations will be overly devastating to a team that returns nearly every contributor.
As a Big 12er, I have heard previous rumblings of 'dirty recruiting' by Mulkey in regards to Griner, but this is the first evidence of such other than casual conversations with unfounded information. If all that is uncovered regarding the Baylor women is these secondary violations of phone calls, texts and contact, it's hard to say that it's overly dirty (we've all heard and seen of worse in college athletics). But it definitely has the potential to mar the name of the school, program and parties involved - namely Griner and Mulkey - during what should be a celebratory post-championship period.