Villanova basketball fans justifiably are excited about their team’s prospects for next season as the Cats reload from a Final Four appearance with one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. But there are more fundamental reasons we are fortunate to be Villanova basketball fans. While "Villanova is not perfect," to steal a quote from Fr. Peter Donohue from his address last week to incoming freshman and parents, its basketball program is certainly one that students and alumni can be proud of. Reggie’s problems this summer certainly stung, but the handling of that problem by the Fr. Donohue and Coach Wright was exemplary — tough but measured and consistent with the University’s core values. However, if your pride in Villanova has been shaken in any way by the Reggie incident, consider the current public relations nightmares involving other prominent schools and their basketball programs.
Memphis must vacate its NCAA-record 2007-08 season and serve three years’ probation because of NCAA rules violations. In May, the NCAA accused Memphis of several major infractions under Calipari, including a fraudulent SAT score by Derrick Rose and providing close to $1,700 in free travel to Rose’s brother, Reggie. Calipari, now at Kentucky, was not penalized because he was never included in the original notice of allegations. He is the first head coach to have vacated Final Four appearances with two different schools. His 1996 Massachusetts team met the same fate because of NCAA rule violations.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins reinstated basketball point guard Joe Mazzulla, suspended since April after being charged with domestic battery, grabbing a woman by the throat as an argument escalated at a Morgantown bar. It was his second arrest within a year. He was charged in July 2008 with aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and underage drinking after getting into a scuffle with security. The only other point guard on the WVU team, Darryl Bryant, remains suspended after an arrest earlier this summer.
Former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie was arraigned on a drunken driving charge, his third arrest (previous two were in Texas and Oklahoma), after refusing sobriety tests during a traffic stop. Gillispie was jailed overnight and wore an orange prison jumpsuit at his video arraignment later that morning.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said at a hastily called press conference that a sex scandal involving a woman accused of trying to extort millions from him has been “pure hell” for his family, fuming that newly released video of her police interview revived her “total fabrication.” Pitino spoke hours after Louisville police released audio and video recordings of phone calls and an interview with Karen Sypher, the woman at the heart of the scandal who Pitino admitted having sex with six years ago.