Tag:Tom Izzo
Posted on: October 10, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 6:24 pm
 

Izzo donates $1 million to Michigan St. athletics


By Matt Norlander, cross-posted from Eye on College Basketball

Spartans fans probably thought the best gift coach Izzo could have given to the program -- outside of all those Final Fours and a national title -- was passing up the Cleveland Cavs job in 2010.

But Izzo has done them better, in a very different, very tangible way. He and his wife have donated a jaw-dropping $1 million to the university. This kind of gift is commonplace amongst lofty boosters who like to show their roll without hesitation. But a coach? Michigan State is calling the donation unlike any of its kind from a head coach to an athletics department, perhaps in American collegiate sports history. He has essentially given the university a huge chunk of his paycheck back.

My question: Is this tax deductible?

“We’ve been blessed to be a part of the Michigan State family for nearly 30 years,” Izzo said in a statement. “Jud Heathcote taught me long ago that the only good deal was one that benefits both parties, and that perfectly describes my relationship with Michigan State University. My wife Lupe and I, along with our children Raquel and Steven, have dedicated our lives to this University, because we believe in intercollegiate athletics and the positive role it plays in so many lives. The Spartans students are our passion, our life’s work. We’ve raised a family here and become entrenched in the mission of the University. And in return, we’ve received so much more than we’ve given. With these blessings, we felt it was time to make a financial contribution.

The 56-year-old Izzo (seen above with Racquel, left, Lupe, and Sparty during 2010's Midnight Madness), has a 383-161 record at Michigan State and has won six Big Ten championships, which matches his six Final Fours. Yet basketball isn't receiving the lion's share of this unique act of coaching charity. Izzo's donating a big portion -- the largest portion -- of the money to football.

“Supporting the football team was an easy decision," Izzo said. "Coach Dantonio is a man of character, building a championship program. But what makes football special is that it truly benefits everyone across the university. Spearheaded by football’s success, there is great momentum throughout all programs.”

With such a big sum given, there's room to spread the wealth to every athletic program at the university, plus scholarships endowments will be included. Even the marching band will feel some cheddar pushed into their back pockets.

“By making a financial contribution to the football program, the Izzo family is not only benefitting all 25 sports, but the entire university," AD Mark Hollis said. "Football games are more than just athletic competition, they are a gathering place for the University community. And while each sport uses football and its success as a recruiting tool, the different colleges across our great campus use football games to enhance their own missions within the framework of Team MSU."

How about this completely outsider, uninformed hypothesis, though: I wonder if Izzo's actions signal some sort of odd first step toward him leaving the program. I'm not saying it's happening at the end of this year, or the next, but what moves a man to do something like this if he isn't looking back at his time and beginning to reflect on that? Izzo's become MSU basketball, and sure he's only 56, but is it possible he's thinking about putting his final fingerprints on the school as an active coach in the next five years?

I'd love to be wrong, because college basketball needs coaches like Tom Izzo to stick around for as long as they bring his breed of energy and enthusiasm to the sport.

Unbelievable Photo: AP

Posted on: December 23, 2010 5:10 pm
 

Nick Saban expresses doubt about new NCAA rules

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Back in September, the NCAA introduced legislation to make it possible for coaches to be suspended over secondary NCAA violations. Naturally, this idea is causing consternation among those in the coaching ranks, as secondary violations are generally regarded on the same level of seriousness as parking tickets. In the NCAA's eyes, of course, that mindset is itself a problem, so down this road we go.

Nick Saban sees all this, and Nick Saban doesn't like what he sees. Here's what he told reporters Tuesday, according to TideSports.com:

“I thought originally in our discussions, in some of our meetings, that this was a rule that was going to be sort of implemented for people who had multiple secondary violations,” Saban said. “In other words, there was a disrespect for the rules shown by someone continuing to do the wrong thing. It wasn’t like you had one thing that happened that’s bad … and you could get suspended for a game.”

“I think it hurts the players when you start suspending coaches, so I’m not sure I’m in agreement. But I’m not sure that I have a solution, because we do respect the rules and we do want everybody to abide by the rules,” Saban said. “If this punishment is what’s going to change someone’s behavior, then I think it’s good. But if it’s not going to change anybody’s behavior, then I don’t really think it’s good.”

This is actually a remarkably sane approach to the issue. Punishment for the sake of punishment isn't necessarily a positive response to a widespread problem (see: Drugs, War On). Saban correctly recognizes that if the amount of secondary violations doesn't appreciably decrease, football would be worse off if some number of coaches are suspended than if none are suspended.

Further, it's worth remembering that it's really easy to commit a secondary NCAA violation. Derek Dooley just committed one the other day when he accidentally posted on a recruit's Facebook wall, after all. Arkansas had recruits try on jerseys and is under investigation. In basketball, Tom Izzo caught a one-game suspension for paying the wrong guy to run a weekend basketball camp.

So between this and Saban's inartful (yet not incorrect) comparison of unscrupulous agents and "pimps," it's plainly evident that he has a better grasp on incentives and disincentives than most people. Compare Saban's willingness to examine whether a rule is good or bad based on its evident effects on behavior with this from NCAA president Mark Emmert a month before his arrival with the organization, earlier this year:

"I'm really pleased with how we're working with the universities and colleges to try to correct behaviors that are not in the school's best interests," Emmert said in a phone interview Tuesday from Seattle. "Under my leadership, we're not going to see any diminutive effect of that effort. But I like where we're going right now."

"I can't talk about any [current] cases, but the fact that we've got strong enforcement going on, I think, is a good thing," he said.

Now, we're not about to accuse Emmert of not knowing or caring whether every one of those rules is appropriate for the NCAA. That would be wrong. It just seems that with extremely limited disincentive for, say, an agent to make subtle overtures to a prospective pro or a tattoo shop to offer the hookup to a football player in return for some swag, merely increasing the punishment on players taking advantage of such a relationship isn't going to solve any long-term problems; it'll probably just mean more players get in trouble. And if football suffers when its teams lose coaches to suspension with no effect on behavior, it sure as heck also suffers when more of its players are suspended for doing logical things like selling goods for money.

So while we'll stop short of recommending Nick Saban be the next president of the NCAA, in our estimation, the organization would be better off if Saban takes an advisory role on policy once he decides to take his career in a less demanding direction. Or think about it this direction: if Nick Saban's writing the rules, do you really think Terrelle Pryor or A.J. Green sit for a third of the season just for selling things that were given to them in a transaction that doesn't get the other side in trouble at all?

 
 
 
 
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