College basketball should be basking in the post-March Madness limelight. The entire world seems to take half-breaths while the the season-ending tournament is going on, and it had another successful go-round this year. The men's winner Kentucky seems to be in good shape, besides the pre-existing Coach Cal doubters and the seemingly inevitable mass exodus of their starting five.
The women's champion, Baylor, on the other hand, is capturing all the wrong kind of attention with the recent revelations about NCAA violations. Coach Kim Mulkey is not alone in her troubles at Baylor, though, as the men's basketball team is lumped into this NCAA case. However, only one of the teams at Baylor just finished their season 40-0 as the national champions. The spotlight, therefore, on the women's program, is understandably both larger and brighter.
The case stems from an NCAA rule concerning out of season contact by coaches. The numbers are stark: 1,200 phone calls and texts during a 29-month period between the men's and women's programs. In the case of the women's program only, possible face-to-face contact – and even accusations by some of collusion – when none should have been had. The calls and texts might be an excusable thing in some peoples' eyes. The personal contact that Coach Mulkey had, because of the DFW Elite Basketball club team, on the other hand, is something that she should have known better about. Coaches have to be hyper-sensitive when it comes to even the appearance of impropriety. Coach Mulkey is not new to this rodeo. As a uniquely qualified coach due to her prowess on the court as a player, she's been surrounded by these rules for more than thirty years.
These rules obviously have shifted and changed over the course of those last thirty years. Some of those changes are common sense – the restriction on text messaging springs to mind, as that technology didn't even exist fifteen years ago, much less when the rules were instituted – and some are still puttering along on their debut iterations. However, as all-consuming as the job of coaching at the Division I level can be, there's no doubt that these coaches are made perfectly clear on what the rules are, regardless of how inane they those rules may be.
NCAA president Mark Emmert drew praise for an interview during the tournament wherein he said some of the NCAA rules needed to be looked at again. Obviously, in the digital age, one of the rules that needs some serious reconsideration is the contact, during all periods. However, the fact remains that rules were broken. Baylor, therefore, finds itself in the position of watching and waiting, trying to figure out what's going to happen with a program where that shouldn't be an issue.