Thursday, September 24, 2009

Arrested at Binghamton? Really??

This from today's New York Times:
"The Binghamton point guard Emanuel Mayben was arrested Wednesday night in Troy, N.Y., on a charge of selling crack cocaine."

Wouldn't you expect to see this kind of story out of a major program, where a player's background is secondary to whether or not he can help the team win a title? But at Binghamton? What, they've won an America East title and gone to the Big Dance, so now that program sees itself on a par with the big-time programs?

It's not as if university officials could not see this coming. Mayben was recruited by big-time Syracuse, among others, but didn't make the academic cut, so he tried UMass for a season, and that didn't work out, so he then transferred to Hudson Valley CC before joining the program at Binghamton. Coach Kevin Broadus should have seen more than a player who could help lift his program to another level.

Broadus is a big part of the problem at Binghamton. This arrest -- the third since he took over the program in 2007 (that's an average of one arrest per season, for those of you scoring at home. That's gotta be some kind of overlooked NCAA record!) One player, a recruit from Serbia, reportedly beat another man into a coma in a bar fight, and then fled to his native land. Another was arrested for stealing condoms from a local Wal-Mart.

I have no problem with a coach starting at a lower level of basketball, winning, and moving up to a big-time program. It happens all the time. Jay Wright is a fine example of that; he coached right here at Hofstra and had great success before taking the top job at Villanova.

But Broadus, and his win-at-all-costs attitude, is not good for basketball, or Binghamton, or the NCAA. One player goes astray, you say, 'OK that happens.' But when THREE run afoul of the law in three years, you have to question the coach and his motives. Clearly, he's one of those coaches who sees a great athlete with a troubled past, and believes he can be the one who straightens the kid out. He sees it as a no-lose situation. If the kids toes the line and lifts the level of the program, the coach is a hero, a brilliant educator and shaper of young men. If the kid goes the wrong way, he can say, "I gave him a chance to straighten out, but he didn't have it in him." Broadus sees himself as blameless. But the fact is, his reputation is damaged, and certainly, people now look at Binghamton as running a program that places more weight on winning than on developing a student-athlete.

Yes, Tiki Mayben is to blame, for getting mixed up with crack cocaine. But Broadus and the university are equally to blame for running a program that doesn't take the character of the athlete into consideration, but only looks at whether or not he can get the school to the Big Dance -- and ultimately, the Big Payday.

What do you think?
-- David Rubinstein

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