There is finally some excitement circulating at James Madison University and it doesn't surround the annual solo cup littered, black-out festival known as the "block party" (pictured above). It surrounds the basketball program at JMU. Yes, the same JMU Dukes that has won an intimidating 33.7 percent of their games over the previous six years. [Sidebar: Four of those years, despite being an avid college basketball enthusiast, I elected to attend $2 pitcher night and watch Big Monday instead. Trifling program.] And unless you eat, sleep an breath round ball in the Shenandoah Valley, you probably didn't know of the head coaching change that brought former Marist coach Matt Brady to Harrisonburg.
It is not surprising that Brady elected to bring the four mediocre mignons that he wooed to Poughkeepsie, down I-81, to don the purple and gold, a possible attempt to reinvigorate the "Electric Zoo." The national buzz and only reason Marist or JMU is mentioned on a college basketball blog in July is because of the controversy this normalcy in recruiting has been complicated with. The controversy is hinged on the fact that Brady's contract with Marist contains a provision prohibiting him from continuing to recruit players he has contacted to put in a Red Hawks uniform, if he ever jumped ship for another program. In March, Brady did exactly that, bringing four of his Marist recruits to JMU. On July 7th Marist filed a lawsuit against Brady, JMU and the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.
This apparent clause in Brady's coaching contract is uncommon. Many legal experts feel the provision is flawed. Where is the line to be drawn? At an initial interest letter? When has a recruit truly committed? Is it when a recruit has verbally committed or when they have signed their national letter of intent? And why should the NCAA or specific school be able to lock-in a student athlete like a professional, binding contract?
Common lesson leanred: Read the fine print, even if it is only "Marist" on the letterhead.