RECRUITING FROM AN ATHLETE'S POINT OF VIEW
(Wednesday, June 12, 9:30~10:30 A.M.)
I'm Gary Cunningham from the University of Wyoming, and I will be co-hosting the program with Barbara Camp, associated athletic director at Southern Methodist University. Our topic this morning is Recruiting from the Athlete's Point of View. Certainly, recruiting as we all know, is the lifeblood of our program, whether you've been in coaching or whether you're an athletic administrator. As a coach, you know that landing the blue-chip athlete can mean success in your program and in turn, to
preserve your job and make things easier with the alumni. As an athletic director, if your coaches recruit well, it helps us in terms of winning teams, attendance and makes all of our jobs easier.
We have three outstanding people who are part of our panel today. We have David Humm, who graduated from high school in 1970. He was a product before all the recruiting rules came into existence. He is going to talk a little about the way it was before. Then Sidney Green is kind of an intermediator and-
then Misty Thomas, who is a junior at UNLV. So. we have th"Eee different time periods that we are going
to talk about. We know that recruiting, particularly in the past few years, is a concern from the athletic administrator's point of view. Certainly the publicity that our programs have received and the activities of many boosters have not given us a very good name. We see increased violations. Next week we are
going to the special convention, many of us, to discuss penalties, and so forth. We have more outside tampering from alumni and boosters and more rules to follow than ever before in terms of recruiting. We are responsible for enforcing them with our coaches. I think, having been a past coach, recruiting is getting tougher and tougher. With athletic administrators, it's getting tougher and tougher. Everybody is feeling the pressure.
No one ever asks the athletes about their point of view on recruiting, the intensity of phone calls, letters, the pressures they face. Our panel today certainly will not answer all those questions, but it is a start in having the athlete speak to us from their point of view. We should hear some of their suggestions in terms of what could be changed to make the process a little better. Our first speaker is Dave Humm. Dave, as I said, went to high school in Las Vegas and graduated in 1970. He is a 10-year veteran of the National Football League and played with four teams; the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Colts and currently is a member of the Los Angeles Raiders. He has been a member of two
Super Bowl championship teams; one with the Oakland Raiders and one with the Los Angeles Raiders, but a different period of time. He took a little journey to Buffalo and Baltimore in the meantime. Out of
high school, he was pursued by 100 universities. He chose Nebraska where he was a starting quarterback for three years. He was an all-American and all-Big 8. Nebraska won three Bowl games when he was there; the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. He has a bachelor's degree in communications and is very active in the off-season in community and charitable affairs in Las Vegas area and in other areas too. He has extensive public speaking experience. He is an outstanding individual and he looks forward to working with people and helping others. I would like to introduce, Dave Humm.
That was a very nice introduction. You took half of my speech. When I look back on my career, I really consider myself to be one of the luckiest players who's ever worn a uniform. I was born and
raised here in Las Vegas and played at a very good program here, Bishop Roman High School. I was very successful, fairly successful there; successful enough to be recruited quite a bit. I really got
to fly all around the country and it was really an experience. When I was a young kid growing up, I was a big fan. I was one of those kids who kept scrapbooks and followed the players and all the coaches. I had my favorite teams all around and never r~ally considered playing major college football until later in my high school career. But, at 17 years old, I got to travel allover the country, and there aren't many situations that a young teenager, 17-18 years old, gets to be put in a situation where coaches come calling on him, alumni come calling on him and the phone rings off the hook. When I look back at my experience, and the things I've done to date, my recruiting experience was probably one of the most positive things I've ever gone through; as far as maturity thing; as far as being 17 years old and getting for the first time really in your life, to go out on your own. You travel by yourself, get to go out
and meet coaches and players whom you've already read about as a young kid. So, from that standpoint, it was really positive.
I was recruited in a different era. Since 1970, when I was recruited, the rule book's probably
been written 20-30 times. For me personally, I had 18 trips planned. I had airline tickets for 18 trips to go to universities. After I had started on my journeys, and after about the seventh or eighth, I was really getting worn down. After my lOth week, I wanted to make a decision. I wasn't going to use all 18 of these tickets. I ended up taking 12 trips. I figured that was enough. Living here in Las Vegas, I always thought these coaching staffs really have a tough job. I didn't really realize that since I live in Las Vegas, every single coach wants to come to Las Vegas to recruit a kid. I'm sure you've heard of
all the gourmet rooms and showrooms here in town. We'd go to different gourmet rooms and different shows, because of the rules that a coach or coaching staff could visit as much as they wanted. You could take
as many trips as you wanted. After awhile, it really started to wear you down. I noticed that every time I'd come home my parents or my friends would say, "well David, how did you like the University of so and so?" I would say, "it's really great, the coaches are great, the fans are great, you wouldn't believe the facilities." After about three or four weeks they said it sounds like you are going to the same place over and over.
It really is confusing for a young adult in that here you played your high school ball and really never traveled in the capacity you do as a recruit. When you go on your first date, you are always going to put your best foot forward. When you go to the university they always basically do the same thing.
People are so nice to you and I really enjoyed doing it, but it was such a confusing thing. In between the trips and the dinners and the shows and phone calls from the alumni, the boosters would also take you out to dinner. So if there wasn't a coach and his wife or some member of the administration, then tt boosters here in town would call and take myself and my folks out.
I like the new rules where the athlete's allowed to visit the university six times and the coaching staffs are allowed to have three visits with the players. It's hard to say no to a coach or an administrator who calls and says we really think you're a great player. We really think you'll fit into our program. We want you to come and make a visit to our university. Now this is in January. You say, "coach, I'm really booked right up through February." He says, "well, March will be fine." Even if you not interested in the university, a player was in a position to take unlimited trips. You got into a routine where mom packed the clothes and on Friday you went to the airport and came home and did your weekly routine. It just kind of snowballed. Now the athlete can only take six visits. If he's really highly recruited, he has to sit down, pick six schools he's really interested in, and not just trips on a whim.
One of my loves when I was playing in high school was baseball. Because of the recruiting and the time it took, I quit baseball my senior year because of the trips. Coaches would come to the high schools, so I would basically have meetings early in the morning before classes, go to class and as soon as school was over, I would go right back into meetings with the visiting coach or assisting coach. It was a hectic time, but it was a fun time. I got to meet people who I had always wanted to meet and alway saw on TV. It was a really great experience.
After about two and a half months on the road and about 30 gourmet meals, I was absolutely totally confused. Every time I took a trip, when I came home, that was the school that I wanted to go to. It got to the point that I was really spinning my wheels. I wasn't really getting any closer to deciding the university that I wanted to go to. I finally said out of four I'm going to pick one of these schools.
I met with each of the coaches again, and they said to sit down and take a piece of paper and put a plus and a minus on either side. List the good points that you like about the university, coaching staff and everything; and then the bad points, and see if it helps to make a decision. Well you list their good points and bad points and you don't really come up with a decision. I took one more trip to those
four universities and from that I made my decision on the stability of the coaching staff. I chose the University of Nebraska. My offensive line coach from back then, Bill Miles, is here in the audience tonight. It was people like Bill and Bob Devaney and people on his staff that really made my decision much easier. They were a very stable staff, a staff with a great deal of mature coaches who had been together for awhile and really knew what they were doing. They basically said, here is what we have to offer and here is what you could hope to accomplish from coming to the University of Nebraska. We're going to win championships. We're going to be on TV and you're going to get a good education.
You, as athletic directors, have some problems with recruiting violations. With us in the NFL, we'v, had our problems also. We're trying to clean our own house as far as drugs and alcohol and some gambling scandals. I've played for four different teams, but to play for those four different teams I have been cut five times. I've had some great experiences in sports. I've been cut five times. You realize that nobody is indispensable. The g~me is bigger than anyone individual involved in it. I think it's really important that the recruiting things are cleaned up. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you.
BARBARA CAMP :
Thank you David. For the past four years, women's athletic programs have been actively involved within the NCAA, and specifically within the recruiting process we have today. How different that pro( is from AIAW. The only thing our coaches could do is write and call and if the kids wanted/to come vi! you they had to pay their own way. So, here we are in the NCAA involved in a very different type of procedure. For many of our coaches it's been an education process where we're frightened of doing something wrong. We are trying to do a better job as administrators on filling them in on the process itself and in how we can help them.
Today we are pleased to have with us a female student-athlete from UNLV, here in Las Vegas, who is going to tell us a little bit about recruiting from her point of view. She was one of the first basketba] players recruited here under NCAA rules. She should have a good story to tell us. She is currently a senior from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She is major in physical education and sports medicine and has a desire at some future point in her career to go to medical school. She is 5'9" and has distinguished herself as one of the finest point guards at that heighth here in the west. She's had lots of accomplish- ments on the basketball court. As a freshman, she averaged 12.1 points per game and was named to the Women's Basketball Yearbooks freshman all-America team. As a sophomore she was the second leading scorer on the team with 15.5 points per game and broke the season's assist record with 180. This past year she broke all sorts of records here at UNLV and put many new records in their record book. She was the lady rebels most prolific scorer to date and still have another year; with 1,411 total career points. The field goal leader with 557, free throw leader with 311 and assist leader with 505, her coach describes
her as a truly talented athlete, an all-around basketball player who can do everything. She is one of
the hardest workers he's ever worked with. She's also had the privilege of being on the Canadian Olympic Basketball Team that finished fourth in the Los Angeles games in 1984. It's not just being a talented athlete, she is what we as administrators call the true student-athlete. For the second consecutive year she was a CoSida Academic all-America with a 3.94 gpa. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you Misty Thomas from UNLV.
Thank you very much. When I was first asked to participate in this presentation a couple of weeks ago, I began to spend a great deal of time trying to come up with any information that I thought would have any impact on any of you. Then I realized that my job here today is not to change the world of intercollegiate sports, but rather to simply report my own experiences and thouKhts and opinions. Maybe
they are a little bit idealistic or unrealistic, but they are an attempt to enlighten you on the pressures that a high school senior faces with the decision-making process, and how we can help improve the
chances in making the best decision. There are many problems presently and in the past in regards to legal recruiting practices, and also very many unhappy coaches and athletes. When athletes finally do arrive
at a school, they receive something totally different than what they had perceived or been led to believe. When you talk in terms of putting millions of dollars into your programs and receiving millions back, you're creating a situation where a number of careers and livelihoods depend on the decision of an l8-year old.
When you are faced with that kind of pressure to win, you try to get the upperhand by any means available; like making promises that mayor may not be kept, or using some less than legal but highly effective recruiting techniques. It's called cheating and no matter how clean your program may be, I'll bet there are a few NCAA rules that knowingly or unknowingly have been violated by each one of your schools. It becomes a prestige type of thing for an athlete to be able to say that such and such a school broke 27 rules when they were recruiting me.
I have yet to tell you somethi~g that you didn't already know. Let's talk for a minute about women's athletics. If I took a survey and asked how many of you have women's programs that were bringing in millions of dollars to your schools, I would be hard-pressed to find one. In fact, most of you are probably losing your proverbial shirts to women's athletics. But, women's athletics are presently seen as a potentially great money-maker for colleges in the not-to-distant-future. Not too many years ago, there were no athletic scholarships available to women. Now there are scholarships and a whole slew of ways for women's athletics to bring money into their program, including television contracts. The translation is dollar signs. Women's intercollegiate athletics has fallen in the same path as men's intercollegiate athletics, complete with company sponsorships, booster clubs and enthusiastic fan support. But with the good comes some of the bad; the illegal recruiting methods and the unhappy situations it can all create. Maybe we can try now to keep the problems in women's athletics in check, while we work to solve the problems that run rampant in men's.
The recruiting process is one of the most flattering and exciting experiences for any student-athlete. The constant phone calls, pamphlets, letters become stacked in a hugh pile, and I'm certain that if you measured the volume of that pile you would find that an athlete's ego grows at a rate that is directly proportionate to the size of that pile. On game days the stands hold a few recruiters, keeping a close
eye on you, and even closer eye on each other. For a l7-l8-year high school kid, all this is pretty heavy stuff. It's a powerful experience when you can command that much praise and attention from your elders. You can do no wrong and everything you do is simply wonderful. If you take a breath some recruiter will come out of the woodwork to tell you that they have never seen anybody breathe any better. You may
laugh, but I've seen some of the reports that have crossed our coach's desk in the past few years and some of the ways that the scouts describe some of the prospects. I feel like I'm reading an application for sainthood. It is, as I said, an incredible experience. But, recruiting can also be a period of intense frustration and indecision. The pressures placed on you by everyone involved are many. The constant barrage, phone calls, letters, pamphlets and visits that put you on your power trip at the beginning, quick- ly become mentally, physically and emotionally draining on the athletes and those close to them. With a signing date near, the pressures build both on the athlete and the recruiter. Things begin to get a little nasty.
There are three main subject areas in the recruiting process which I would like to touch upon. The first is the time factor involved. The second deals with the types of pressures that a student-athlete faces during decision-making, and the last is the interaction between the school and the athlete during the recruiting process.
Picture this scene if you will. You're late and dead tired from practice when you come home. As you walk in the door, you see today's mail stacked high on the table ready to be read. On top are a few
phone messages from coaches who have phoned before you arrived home. You'd like to run upstairs and crawl into bed and forget about everything, but you have an exam to study for and a paper due at the end of the week. Some coach is coming for a home visit tonight. As you glance through the phone messages you see one marked, "urgent, please return the call." You dial right away only to discover that the emergency announcement was that the school's mascot had just given birth and they would like to know if you would
take part in the name-the-mascot contest. That conversation quickly ends and you make your way to your room bearing several manila envelopes jammed with various pieces of information. As you sit and read abol the hobbies and career goals of the universities drama club members and various other pieces of worthless information that fill each envelope, you are interrupted by the doorbell ringing and realize that you've just spent two hours pouring through material you could have lived without. Your home visit coach has arrived and the school books and personal business are put aside, untouched for another night. Now maybE I'm exaggerating, but then again, only slightly. During your senior year you spend much of your time
like other seniors, days in school and nights studying. You talk on the phone and plan fun-filled, never a dull moment weekends. The difference is that while they are reading textbooks, you are reading universj newsletters. While their night-time phone conversations are gossip, yours are filled with questions about every phase of your life. While their weekends leave them happy and rested, yours are spent in another cj with total strangers. They leave you tired and confused. The student, the parents and the coaches, as well as the recruiters, spend untold hours during the long recruiting process. Most of these hours are necessary in order for the athletes to feel confident that they've made the right choice. It's the other hours spent on meaningless activities that cause the most frustration during your senior year.
The next area that causes a great deal of grief for the athlete during the recruiting process is the pressure involved, Earlier I talked about the pressures that coaches and recruiters feel, knowing that their jobs are on the line, but the athlete must deal with different types of pressure. As with other high school seniors, an athlete must try to look past their four years in college into the future and try to choose a school that will best offer them a chance for success in their chosen field. For Sid and Dav~ they saw a future in professional athletics. For others, their future lies in their academic interests. Most athletes place varying degrees of importance on each. The point is, you have l7-l8-year olds making decisions that they feel will affect the rest of their lives. That's a tremendous decision at anyage. Again, looking into the future at collegiate careers, there are geographical considerations and old loyall For many, deciding to attend school out of state is an act of betrayal to the hometown university, but deciding to stay can bring you additional pressures of people expecting you to play like the high school superstar you were, even though now you are a freshman in the collegiate ranks. For me, the decision meal leaving my country, which did not go over well with the Canadian basketball world. I was expected to promote women's basketball in Canada and not abandon it.
There are different types of pressures too. A highly-recruited athlete can be a great source of pri( for the community in which he or she resides. As a result, a huge number of people try to take an active interest in all the decision making. Everyone has an opinion on which schools are more prestigious than others. Everyone wants to know what kind of under-the-table deals they may be making for you. Every newspaper and television reporter wants to be the first one to hear the news and every day is filled with questions from everyone and advice from a few people who feel compelled to voice their opinions about whal exactly you should do.
Even at the time, I realize that all these questions were usually from people who were just inter, in showing their care and concern. As I look back now, I am touched by it. At the time it only added the pressure, feeling that the decision somehow has affected so many other people whom you had no idea cared. The people actually involved in the decision making, such as your parents, coaches, academic
counselors and friends, also have their opinions, thoughts and concerns. These things must all be car, weighed. You just feel so closed in and trapped as you try to make the decision that you hope will be for you.
The final area that I would like to discuss involves the interactions between the recruiters and the student-athlete. Everyone, I'm sure, knows a whole list of recruiting horror stories regarding some of the statements made by the recruiters to athletes. The pressures to produce winning programs can cause recruiters to adopt a win-at-all-costs type of attitude. You as athletic directors can maintain some control over your coaches and their recruiting practices, but you cannot control your booster program. Payments and gifts and promises of special considerations from certain professors made by overzealous boosters are areas of deep concern. Blue-chip high school seniors now put a price tag on themselves; a nice five-figure deposit in a certain savings account will get you an all-America bought and paid for. Maybe they'll make a package deal. One ambitious and upward thinking high school coach and superstar wil: both grace your campus, provided you make a space for both of them. Promises, some are kept and some are not, but promises still cloud an athlete's mind. Then, when things are in their final weeks, recruiters choose to make things a little bit tougher on the athlete by dropping not-so-subtle hints, innuendoes or rumors about other programs that the athlete just happens to be considering. Even though you realize whai going on, this is still a pretty effective recruiting technique. Just at the time an athlete has finally made some decisions, new rounds of indecisiveness are introduced.
I realize I've touched on very few positive aspects of college recruiting, and I also realize that
I could learn much by listening to the pressures involved in a similar speech by a college recruiter, but my main interest lies in making things better. UNLV has taken more that its fair share of criticism regarding its student-athletes and much of it is undeserved. Like all universities, UNLV provides a student-athlete with an opportunity to exchange the athletic ability for an education and a future. With
thoughts and expectations of a professional career or some illegal inducements, many athletes squander
their opportunity and do little to enhance the public opinion of college athletes. Still there are ways
to help provide your athletes with the best chance for success. Here at UNLV, and other schools, full-time academic advisors are available strictly for the athletes. Many programs have their own on staff for the sole use of their team. Study halls are compulsory during the entire school year unless you maintain a
GPA of 3.0 or higher. UNLV has developed programs whereby athletes can continue or complete their education and continue to receive financial support even though they have used up all of their eligibility. These are some of the more obvious ways to help your student-athletes. Some of the less obvious ways include adjusting practices and game schedules as well as travel itineraries in order to allow your team to make their academic commitments; provide opportunities for your student-athletes to experience the real world outside the sports arena so they are not so bewildered by it after they leave the limelight. I feel that
if a program is so willing and caring enough to put this kind of effort to ensure the best opportunities for their athletes, then maybe this type of caring can be carried over into the recruiting field.
I have, despite all the perils and pitfalls, managed to survive the recruiting process and have loved my time spent here in Las Vegas. I feel very fortunate to have had-the opportunity to get my education and participate in the athletic program here. As you leave here today and head out into the casinos, remember that you are supporting local industry and eventually to state funding. The money trickles down to education, and more specifically, my scholarship check. So please, support local industry. May you have the worst luck humanly possible. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Misty. Our next panelist is Sidney Green. Sidney was an outstanding basketball player in high school at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, New York. In fact, his senior year, by many of the surveys, he was ranked as one of the top five blue-chip basketball players in the nation. I
know when I was coaching, I didn't know this. Sidney reminded me of this. I wrote him a letter and we had some conversation at that time. He's an outstanding basketball player. He attended UNLV. Here he was
a first team all-America his senior year. He lead his team in scoring and rebounding and he still is the second all-time leading scorer and all-time leading rebounder for UNLV. Sidney was drafted in the first
round in 1983 by the Chicago Bulls. He had quite a few injury problems his first year, played a complete season this last year and he still is with the Chicago Bulls and wondering who his coach is going to be. Sidney is a family man. He's very committed to his family. He has a young daughter and he is an outstanding individual. At this time, I'd like to introduce Sidney Green.
Good morning everyone. I'm very happy to be here. After listening to Mr. Humm and Misty, I really don't have that much to say. I would like to talk about recruiting; recruitment from a high school athlete to a college student. I remember when I first got my first letter from a university. I was in the tenth grade. I believe it was from Dartmouth. I was so happy. I went home, showed my mother and family. I
said, "wow, mom, I got a letter, finally got a letter. I'm going to be a professional. I'm going to go
to college, to Dartmouth, because they want me." You see back then I was blind. I didn't know that much.
She said, not to worry about it, you'll probably get more. So I slept with that letter for about two months. All of the sudden, I started producing even higher scores my sophomore year. All of a sudden, the letters started multip~ying. Then, as I started reading all the letters they all said the same thing, that I'm an outstanding basketball player. I could accomplish my goals if I attended their college. I can become a professional athlete. They watched me play the other day and I showed them that I could compete very well
at the university and become a positive role model for them. All the letters say that too. I remember one game a university wrote me and said that I played an outstanding g~me. Deep down in my heart I know I
didn't. I had two points and five rebounds, and they said I played a great game. How can I playa great game scoring two points and five rebounds. That's when I really woke up. All these guys are saying the
same thing over and over. They don't really mean it. They just want me. They want to use me. Hopefully, use me for my athletic basketball ability, and they forget about me. Why? Because I saw what happened to many of my friends, growing up in New York in the city. I've been associated with many great ball players, but unfortunately, they weren't disciplined enough to attend classes. They didn't have the personality or the desire to commit themselves to the university. I put it all into perspective and said, once I become
a senior I'm going to make my decision based on a coach that really shows interest in me as a person, then as a basketball player or as a student-athlete. I became an all-America in high school. I have about ten boxes of letters now. My mother has them. She says she like to keep them so when it's all over for me, we both can sit down and read them and make fun of them. All the letters say the same thing. You're an outstanding player. We saw you play the other day, when I had two points and five rebounds, and we feel
you could come to our university and help us. I knew and she knew and my high school coach knew that it was all a fake.
As far as me making my decision on attending UNLV, I looked at Jerry, which is coach Tarkanian. He was the only one who recruited me positively. He didn't come to my home wearing a suit, being someone that he's really not. He was honest, which I am sure many people in here feel he's not honest. Once I did make my decision, everybody said, "how many slot machines did they give you.?
It wasn't like that. He recruited me cleanly and he showed me the type of person that he really was.
He wasn't a fake at all. I'm very glad I did make the decision to attend UNLV. He looked at me as a person first, then as an athlete. It's just like what Misty said, the coaches, boosters and alumni tell you
that they will take care of you and will provide money for you and a car, all the glamour and everything. That is good, but then again, you have to put it into the right perspective. If you look at attending a university just because of the cars, playing basketball, football or baseball, you will not accomplish anything when you leave. Thank God when I attended UNLV I held such a positive self within the cQmmunity that I'm sure I could come back out here and get a job when it's allover for me. Not working in the casinos, but working something very constructive. I feel working in the casinos after you graduate from UNLV is degrading. I can't picture myself becoming, after this is allover, a Blackjack dealer or work- ing at a craps table. Not to degrade the name of former players at UNLV, but I walked around the casino
and I see them working as a Blackjack dealer and working at the crap tables. I always tell myself I will not be like that. I have a great deal of pride in myself.
The advice that I could give is that once they do see a kid who has outstanding abilities, either in baseball, basketball, football or soccer, to first look at them as a person. There are plenty of people
out there who can shoot a ball or hit a ball or throw a ball, but then again, if they don't have the desire in their heart to become a positive person for themselves, they will make their universities look very
bad. Brad Rothermal, I'm sure, could stand up and say that my whole four years here, I never heard any bad things about me living here in Las Vegas, going to casinos, gambling. I always felt that if I
do that, it would make me look bad. I have a great deal of pride for myself and my family and for the universityalso. I always said that with me coming out of high school being the number three player around the nation, many eyes were going to be on me. Why did I attend UNLV over UCLA, Louisville or
St. Johns? Why did I travel 3,000 miles to attend UNLV? The reason why is because of Jerry, the city
and the people. They recruited me cleanly. I'm not saying Louisville and UCLA didn't recruit me cleanly, they did recruit me cleanly, but I felt comfortable, more comfortable with Jerry and being associated with an athletic director like Brad Rothermal. I'm sure he tqok pride in making sure I got my degree, Unfortunately, I didn't get my degree. I'm credits behind because, coming out of high school I was spoiled. I thought the whole world was on my shoulders, I didn't have to attend class. I did attend classes, but I didn't put forth any effort to get my grade up. My first two years here were terrible. I don't know
how I even stayed eligible, but I did because I went to summer school. Thank God I did. I'm nine credits from my degree in Sociology. Once, I do get it, I'm going to take it to my mother's home and she's going to frame it on the wall because that is one thing that I promised. She calls me everyday or every other day to ask me if I am attending classes. She says, that I'm not too old or too big for her to put out that belt on me. She's really hard on me. I just thank God for her. I thank God for all that I have accomplished and thank God for this beautiful city, because I matured tremendously growing up in New
York City. I do have a career in playing profesional basketball. But then, like David Humm said, there is life after being a professional athlete. At the time, I didn't know that.
I went through a great deal as far as my decision to attend UNLV, it was the best four years that I ever had. I m4tured tremendously. My first two years, I was inconsiderate, I didn't care about people. I was very selfish. I sat down and thought about it and I was. The reason why I was selfish my first
two years was because I never was exposed to any of the good life. The good life is going out to dinner and being around positive people. I really matured my whole four years here. If I had a chance to make my decision allover again, I would pick UNLV because of what I accomplished here. I made in this
city friends for the rest of my life. I met my beautiful wife out here. I have a beautiful daughter and I'm very much stable. The only thing that I wish now is coming out of college.
Unfortunately, my first years have been up and down. The first year I was injured. I had a back injury. My second year I'm still trying to figure out why I haven't been playing that much. Next year it's going to be much better. If everybody's been reading the paper since what happened to the front office at Chicago, I'm not trying to degrade anyone, but since what happened at the front office at
Chicago, I'm sure positive things are ahead for the future. If there are any questions, I'd be glad to answer them.
GARY CUNNINGHAM :
Thank you, Sidney. r'd like to thank everyone. We would like to end our program. We have a few minutes here and if any of you have any questions, please come forward.
I'd like to ask the panelists, do they have specific suggestions for improving what they perceive to be the problems that they have encountered? We've had a lengthy and very enlightening discussion on what they have encountered. I would like to know if they have some specific suggestions oil how they would like to be treated or how to improve the recruiting process, so that there is dignity involved in the process and not the problems that some of them have encountered.
I have friends allover the country who wera recruiting and called me and ..ked me to help recruit differant playara. Many time. when ynu gu into a homa you almo,t sense that the athlete and parent. .re sitting thara thinking, we all know that we get tuition, bouks, fsas, gu ahsad and tell us what'. the rest. It'. really up to the coaches to .it there and .ay that thi. i. exactly what wa offar. It ha, to be the integrity uf the cuach Bud coaching staff that goe. in and .ay., "whan I tall you that you get book., fee., tuition and room and boud, that'. it. I don't care what anybody .I.. i. offaring you." When I wa. getting recruited, I Bent a ra.ume out of all the thing. I had done in high .chool.
MISTY THOMAS :
I think to answer your question as an athlete, many times you receive information that is no use to you. I wasn't kidding when I said you'd be receiving something about the drama club. career goals and interests. When you have volumes and volumes to read. not only to read for your school work, but also
as information from other schools. then you are dealing with a huge amount of reading every night. The same with phone calls. Phone calls maybe take a few minutes, and you can't understand why the athletes
seem a little abrupt. but you might bave been the l2th person that night that phoned. Nothing s getting
done. Your family's upset that the phone's always being used. You are always talking on the phone.
You're not getting your schoolwork done. You're not making your family commitments. I think the biggest problem with myself and many other athletes was the time that it took. If you've got something to say to the athlete, I understand that you have to keep in contact with them. but if you have something to say
that is important. by all means get a hold of him. They need to know that sort of thing in order to make the best decision. But if it's just something so they are opening mail everyday. that doesn't help anyone at all.
When I was a senior in high school, my coach kept all my letters and opened them. At the time I didn't appreciate it, because the letters were addressed to Sidney Green, not to the coach. He explained to me why he was opening it and all the scandals that go on in college. As far as telephone calls and visits, let it all go through the coach. If the coach is such a big influence on you in high schools, I would advise the student to tell the college coaches to go through my high school coach, because if you go through him, most likely you are going to want to give me something that's under the table. I'm sure the high school coach would look out for you. Thank God for my coach, because if the letters that I received would have come straight to me, I think I would have made a wrong decision.
BARBARA HOLLMANN :
I would like to ask the panelists what the reaction would be to fewer visits allowed by the NCAA. I think the first gentleman talked about 18 visits. We are now down to five. Would it help you timewise
as high school seniors to be allowed to take fewer visits or does that number of visits help you make a better decision about the school that you ultimately want to go to?
MISTY THOMAS :
Listening to David talk about the number of visits and just going through visits myself. it is time consuming and especially jetting allover the country when you are in the middle of your season. I think five or six visits is a good number. An athlete always has the option not to take any. or only take one or two. and I think more and more parents and coaches are trying to influence them that way; to immediately try and narrow it down to a very small number.
FROM THE FLOOR:
The two gentlemen indicated that they chose their school because of the coach or the coaching staff. The young lady, given the fact that you left the country, what was your main reason for ch~osing the University of Los Vegas?
MISTY THOMAS :
I was one of the athletes that weighed equally my athletics and my academics, very seriously. I knew that academically my future was going to be in whatever field I chose in academics, because as far as there being a female professional league, that's not right now a real possibility. They keep attempting it, but my future would like where my academic interest went. At the same time, ever since I was ten years old, my goal had been to be an Olympian and in Canada we have great athletes, outstanding basketball coaches. Unfortunately, they are fewer and further between then what they are here in the United States. I needed to go to a program that would not only help me achieve my academic goals, but
also help me achieve my athletic goals by allowing me to play against the very best every day. I have
no regrets from my decision. Even if I had not made the Olympic team, never participated in the 1984 games I would still feel that I made the right decision to come here. I've been very happy here. I'm happy
with the success my team has had here. I hope for even better things my senior year. I'm very happy with the way things have turned out. Academically, I have a solic background to go into medical school and I have no complaints. I am very happy.