SUNSET, S.C. — The last five and half minutes of Brad Brownell’s conversation with the media, as part of his annual media golf outing at The Reserve at Lake Keowee, got very interesting on Wednesday.
Brownell was asked if he has been following the College Basketball Corruption Trials in New York. The Clemson head coach said he has been following it a little bit and that he is not surprised with what he has been hearing.
Below is the conversation and Brownell’s raw reaction to the questions and how he feels about the game now and if all that has happened since last year’s arrest have helped the sport at all.
“Guys in the business know there have been a lot of things going on for a long time,” Brownell said. “What is really challenging is trying to run a really good program doing things the right way at this level. It is hard.”
Question: You know Jaron Blossomgame’s name came up for a small amount. Did that catch you off guard?
Brownell: “Yeah, it did. And there are definite differences though in what is out there and what people need to understand. There are guys that are doing things through third parties to get recruits, which is one thing and those sums of money are usually much larger. Then there is an agent who works behind the scenes for their self, immediate gratification to get and to do something that’s given money or whatever it might be to secure that kid a few months later. Certainly, I guess, that is what happened to Jaron. We had no idea of any of it. I had not seen it. I don’t know who Christian Dawkins is and I have never seen it. Obviously, I am disappointed in Jaron for that and I have told him so much.”
Question: You have talked with him since it came out?
Brownell: “Yes we have. But, there is a distinct difference. That is going on in most sports and that is unbelievably difficult to police. You can’t know what is going on with every player. You can do all the education and you can talk to your guys about what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do. There are agents everywhere. It is one of the reasons why we have gone to letting the agents have more access. Now the top high school players are going to have agents. That is the new NCAA legislation. So that is an extremely challenging aspect of the job because as a coach, too, how much are you involved in? How much can you be involved? I have talked to a lot of different coaches at this level and every coach is frustrated with it and does not know exactly the best way to handle it. There is no way for you to keep your players or their parents or whomever from dealing with those guys because it is going to be happening to some degree.”
Question: Do you feel like the game has been cleaned up some here in the last year or do you think it is still the same?
Brownell: “Not really. I really don’t. I think for maybe a short time guys were a little bit, had their guard up a little bit. I have always said the guys that want to cheat are going to cheat. They are going to find ways to do things and obviously, the amount of money that is involved in our sport and the amount of money that coaches make. Mark Fox is a prime example of a guy doing things the right way at a school and winning a good amount of games and losing his job. If you want to test your moral character, make the kind of money we are making and then lose your job because you are doing things the right way. You just lost two million dollars. If you want to test your integrity, test that. There are a lot of guys. I respect the heck out of Mark Fox because of that. I don’t know of other people … and there are all types of businesses where you can break the rules to get ahead, and people are out there doing it. Some people want to have the moral high-ground on different things. It is a tough situation now to be running these kinds of programs. To know there are things going on and you work your tail off. You might recruit kids for years. The amount of times you drive to a place, with the time you spend away from your family, you are at all of these events and you do not get a kid. Spending three years of your life recruiting people, that is hard. That is really hard and it did not come down to like anything that you can control. It is hard, and then you play against guys like that and you see them in another jersey. It is a tough situation.”