NCAA forms ethics panel in men's basketball

INDIANAPOLIS - Michigan coach John Beilein has read the NCAA's long, complex rulebook and sees how varied interpretations can be.


He wants to clarify all that legal mumble-jumble.

Beilein accepted a job Thursday as chairman of the new men's basketball ethics coalition, a panel that hopes to clarify the rules and the intention of those bylaws so coaches don't inadvertently run into trouble.

"There's a spirit to the rules we all need to follow. We don't want to be, as coaches, trying to find our way around the rules," Beilein told The Associated Press. "There's a spirit we have to live by."

The committee consists of 14 members: 11 head coaches, two assistants and one former head coach. They include Boston College's Al Skinner, Oklahoma's Jeff Capel, Stanford's Johnny Dawkins, Butler's Brad Stevens, Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings and former South Carolina coach Dave Odom. Four members, including one current head coach, have yet to be named.

Five of the six BCS conferences already have representatives. Only the Big East, where Beilein coached West Virginia before heading to Ann Arbor two years ago, does not.

"It's going to take a little time for word to get out and people to trust you," Skinner said. "We don't really have enforcement power, so we're trying to get people to understand some of our problems."

Beilein wants discussions to focus on a variety of topics, including a rule's intent. He also anticipates debating issues such as the expanding use of social networking sites.

"These areas do come up with Twittering and Skype, and with advice, we can address these things," Beilein said. "We have to ask, is it inappropriate, for instance, to e-mail a player the night before we go to a game to see if he's healthy and going to play before we travel 2,000 miles away?"

Beilein also wants the panel to be educational. For instance, what is a coach supposed to do when a recruit's parents walk over and say hello during a non-contact period? NCAA rules say anything beyond a greeting is considered contact with the recruit and an infraction.

Beilein wants to clarify the gray areas for all coaches and give recruits and their families more information to explain why coaches act the way they do.

"That's a situation where you have to politely exit the situation," Beilein said. "If you say nothing, that's rude. So we have to educate recruits on why coaches need to be anti-social sometimes or sit in a certain area at games."

The NCAA has increasingly attempted to close loopholes in its legislation.

When former Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson was under NCAA phone call limitations as punishment for making hundreds of impermissible calls at Oklahoma, Sampson relied heavily on text messaging to contact recruits. There were no limitations on text messages at the time, but the NCAA now has an outright ban on text messages.

"I think, on the whole, that's been well received," Beilein said. "Some young men were being caught with very high phone bills and that couldn't continue. But I see e-mails being on everyone's phone in the future, so is that something we'll have to examine?"

Essentially, though, the goal is simple: Beilein wants coaches to know what's right and what's wrong before they run afoul of the rules.

"We have a great game and an awful lot of coaches who always do things the right way," Beilein said. "Whenever someone does something wrong, it gives us all a black eye. There are gray areas in terms of recruiting, scheduling and summer camps, and we want to get rid of those gray areas."