Pac-12 coaches pay­ing close at­ten­tion to trial

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SAN FRAN­CISCO — Stan­ford coach Jerod Haase be­lieves that in due time col­lege bas­ket­ball will get past its re­cruit­ing cor­rup­tion scan­dal and re­gain its cred­i­bil­ity.

Pro­grams ev­ery­where are pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the fed­eral trial on col­lege bas­ket­ball cor­rup­tion in Man­hat­tan.

“Cer­tainly the echo when they talk about the Rice Com­mis­sion and all the steps that are put in place right now, it’s with the in­tent that we al­ways have an even play­ing field,” Haase said at Pac12 me­dia day Thurs­day. “How it all plays out will be in­ter­est­ing. I do think mov­ing for­ward with every­one with that in mind is im­por­tant. Within col­lege ath­let­ics you’re al­ways try­ing to be well versed in that kind of thing. Right now it’s just a wait-and­see ap­proach as things un­fold. But I am op­ti­mistic, I’m an op­ti­mistic per­son. I do be­lieve that at the end of this it’s go­ing to be a re­ally strong prod­uct. Col­lege bas­ket­ball’s go­ing to end up in a good spot. That doesn’t mean any­thing’s per­fect just like any busi­ness or in­dus­try, it’s not per­fect but I do think with the right peo­ple in place, the right goals in mind, we’re go­ing to get to a place that’s go­ing to be re­ally, re­ally pos­i­tive.”

With con­fer­ence pro­grams in­ves­ti­gated, Pac12 Com­mis­sioner Larry Scott last year es­tab­lished a task force to look at pos­si­ble re­form mea­sures to present rec­om­men­da­tions to the NCAA and other lead­ers.

“This was a help­ful part of a na­tional process led by former sec­re­tary of state Con­doleezza Rice on be­half of the NCAA to ex­am­ine re­forms and ul­ti­mately led to a bold set of re­forms that were pro­posed and ul­ti­mately adopted by the NCAA board of di­rec­tors,” Scott said. “We’ve urged and con­tinue to urge the NBA and the NBA Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion to put an end to its one-and-done rule and al­low young men that have a de­sire to play pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball right away com­ing out of high school to do that and not be forced to go to col­lege, and still hope­ful that they will make that change. The main buck­ets of changes that the NCAA has made align with the four buck­ets of main rec­om­men­da­tions that our task force made.”

Ore­gon was picked by the me­dia Thurs­day to win the Pac-12 for the sec­ond time in three sea­sons, join­ing the Ducks women’s team top­ping the pre­sea­son poll Wed­nes­day — the first time in con­fer­ence his­tory the same school is pre­dicted to win both in the men’s and women’s game.

“Well, I think the women will have a lot eas­ier time liv­ing up to them than we will,” coach Dana Alt­man said. “We like the ex­pec­ta­tions. We hope we can live up to them.”

The Ducks, with two re­turn­ing starters and a top-five re­cruit­ing class, re­ceived 16 of 25 first-place votes. UCLA is picked sec­ond and Wash­ing­ton third.

Still, much of the fo­cus along with what’s hap­pen­ing on the court as pre­sea­son prepa­ra­tions are in full swing is all that’s go­ing on off it.

“I think we just need to clean up the game,” Wash­ing­ton coach Mike Hop­kins said.

UCLA coach Steve Al­ford said he is con­fi­dent his pro­gram is run­ning a clean op­er­a­tion and strives to com­pete “with the ut­most in­tegrity and char­ac­ter in mind.”

“I know how we run our pro­gram, so I’ve had no loss of sleep or those type of things of know­ing how our as­sis­tants go about things,” he said.

Once Utah coach Larry Krys­tkowiak is caught up from his day guid­ing the Utes, you bet he is pay­ing at­ten­tion, too.

“I’m cu­ri­ous about what’s hap­pen­ing like ev­ery­body else. We’re right in the thick of try­ing to get our team bet­ter,” he said. “When you do get some free time at the end of the day it’s worth tak­ing a peek at.”

Krys­tkowiak noted the cor­rup­tion scan­dal has shined a light on “things that have been hap­pen­ing for a long time.”

“I don’t think it’s any big se­cret, it’s not blow­ing any­body away,” he said. “It’s pub­lic for the first time.”

Al­ford knows coaches ev­ery­where are ready to move for­ward — when­ever that day comes.

“The whole thing is un­for­tu­nate to our game and we just hope clo­sure is sooner than later and ad­just­ments can be made,” Al­ford said. “It’s only go­ing to en­hance the great game that we have.”

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