Head coach Davis, players discuss illegal recruitment in NCAA


Central Michigan mens basketball head coach Keno Davis yells during the game against Buffalo on March 8 at Quicken Loans Arena. 

Every year in college basketball, teams attempt to earn commitments from top prospects in high school across the nation. 

Yahoo Sports released a report on Feb. 23, which highlighted programs and players who could be receiving repercussions for illegal recruitment. 

The schools that could be found violating NCAA rules include Alabama, Clemson, Creighton, Duke, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Michigan State, N.C. State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, USC, Utah, Villanova, Virginia, Washington, Wichita State, Texas and Xavier. 

The Central Michigan men’s basketball program, coached by Keno Davis, is clean. 

“I think a lot of people hope this will make our sport better,” Davis said. “In the short term, there will be a lot of negativity about college basketball and college athletics as a whole. I don’t know that it’s a surprise to a lot of people. You hope this is less likely to happen in the future.” 

CMU freshman guard Matt Beachler, a 2017 prospect out of Lowell High School, played in the same AAU program as Brian Bowen, who was the last five-star recruit to announce his commitment in the 2017 class. 

On June 3, 2017, Bowen announced he would be enrolling at Louisville. Four months later, it was announced Bowen would not play or practice for Louisville due to illegal recruitment under then head coach Rick Pitino. On January 10, 2018, he switched to South Carolina and will be eligible to play in January 2019. 

“(Bowen) played in the same program with me for the Michigan Mustangs,” Beachler said. “In college basketball, there’s a lot of it that’s behind the scenes that hasn’t been seen or heard of, so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.

“It never came up with me, but it’s out there.” 

In his recruitment, Beachler had offers to play for Central Michigan, Cornell, DePaul, Detroit, Kent State, Lehigh, Northern Illinois, Oakland, Toledo and VCU. 

“It’s like a family atmosphere here," Beachler said. "The coaches play by the books and it’s good to play for people that have good character.” 

Davis said he believes collegiate student-athletes should be paid without fear of NCAA sanctions. 

“They are going in the right direction to pay players,” Davis said. “It’s up to somebody smarter than me to decide how it’s going to work and how it’s fair for all college athletes. Those type of things aren’t the easy things to figure out. 

“I haven’t heard giving a few guys a couple thousand dollars is a bad thing. I don’t have the answer, but I’m looking forward to hearing the proposals going forward.” 

Unlike Davis, sophomore forward David DiLeo is unsure if athletes in college should be paid or not. He is thankful for the full-ride education. 

“I go back-and-forth,” DiLeo said. “I think getting a free education is a benefit we have already received. I also understand the argument about how much money schools generate off college basketball. I see both sides of the argument.”

Senior guard Josh Kozinski is in his final year of college basketball, so earning compensation for playing is not something he would ever be affected by, but he hopes college athletes are paid someday. 

“I think it would be beneficial to pay athletes because everyone who knows Division I athletes knows these plays are getting some sort of compensation,” Kozinski said. “I’m definitely pro-paying college athletes. It’s such a big industry.”

Running a clean program was something Davis put into his mentality from his first day as a coach in college basketball, dating back to taking an assistant coaching job with Iowa in 1991 under his father, Tom Davis. 

“You enjoy the wins, victories and championships, but if you didn’t run it in a clean way, then it comes back to get you,” Keno said. “When I was hired six years ago, we talked about the way we wanted to run the program in the way we recruit and develop. That’s something we can be proud of. To be competitive and successful is part of it. 

“To do it in the right way, those coaches and programs that are clean will be looked at differently.”