Wright State’s Nagy hopes scandal leads to change in college hoops

Tuesday was both a sad and good day for sport, Nagy says

A recruiting scandal rocked college basketball Tuesday. Four assistant coaches from major programs — Oklahoma State, Arizona, Auburn and Southern California — were arrested by the FBI. Six other people were arrested. All face charges involving bribery, conspiracy and fraud.

The aftershocks continued Wednesday with Louisville putting head coach Rick Pitino on administrative leave . Tremors will continue for some time for the programs singled out in the FBI investigation and likely for many more.

Wright State men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy, whose team begins practice Monday, reacted to the news with mixed feelings. He has spent a lifetime in the sport, including 21 seasons at South Dakota State before being hired by Wright State in 2016, and was aware that shady things happen in the recruiting world.

“In some respects, it’s a sad day for the sport,” Nagy said Wednesday. “I’m sure we’re not just talking about the NCAA coming down (on these coaches). We’re talking about prison time. I’m sure when you’re faced with prison time, you’re going to tell them everything you know. My guess would be there were a lot of people who didn’t sleep well if they’ve ever been involved in something like that.”

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Nagy slept fine — not that he was boasting about that. He said he has made plenty of mistakes in his life and didn’t want to point to the arrested coaches and say, “Those guys are terrible.” He’s not mad at them. He feels bad for them.

Nagy said, “There’s a lot of pressure to win and a lot of money involved. People make bad decisions all the time. We all do.”

For coaches across the country who have played by the rules, the hope is that this scandal makes college basketball better. That’s why Nagy said Tuesday was a good day, too.

“It’s a chance to clean it up and get it working the way it’s supposed to,” he said.

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant declined to comment on the scandal, though UD President Dr. Eric F. Spina shared a photo on Instagram of himself with the entire men’s basketball coaching staff and Athletic Director Neil Sullivan on Wednesday with a caption that seemed to be a response to the scandal.

“Proud of our exceptional Men’s Basketball coaching staff,” Spina wrote. “Integrity, honor, excellence. Coach Grant and his superb staff are focused on producing (UD) graduates who have won championships with honor and developed into fine young men.”

There was also one quick reaction from an Atlantic 10 coach on Tuesday. On Twitter, George Mason’s Dave Paulsen wrote, “Sickened but, unfortunately, not shocked by these revelations. Horrible stain on our profession.”

Rick Ray, of Southeast Missouri State, had a similar reaction. On Twitter, he wrote, “This type of behavior affects us all because there are really outstanding coaches being driven out of our game because they refuse to participate in this type of behavior. AND, there are other terrific coaches that are out of our business because they chose to take the road of dishonesty to obtain players, got caught, then got fired. Which is a catch 22 because good players are THE most important ingredient to winning, whether you recruited them and/or developed them.”

As scandalous as the revelations were, they didn’t shock Nagy, whose dad, Dick, was a longtime assistant at Illinois under Lou Henson.

“I’m certainly aware enough to know that some of this goes on,” Nagy said. “Now I don’t know the intricacies of it all because I’ve never been involved with any of it, and I’ve never figured out in my mind how you would coach a kid if you cheated to get him because if he knows that then he kind of owns you.”

Nagy doesn’t expect the ripples of the scandal to affect how his program recruits.

“In terms of our level, most of the guys probably aren’t doing it,” Nagy said. “I don’t feel like it gives us a leg up. We’re probably not going to get a kid who’s going to Louisville anyway, regardless of whether or not they’re paying him.”

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