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Friday, July 22, 2005

Collison defends Williams

Ex-Jayhawk's father: No such thing as free breakfast

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Dave Collison, the father of former Kansas University basketball All-American Nick Collison, is positive former KU coach Roy Williams would never commit an NCAA violation knowingly.

How does he know for sure?

Williams on more than one occasion made Dave pay for coffee and doughnuts on trips to the men's basketball office.

Dave opened his wallet for the food and drink when his son was an Iowa Falls High senior recruit and in the four years (2000-03) his son played on Mount Oread.

"We had times we were there on unofficial recruiting trips and when Nick was playing there ... if we went to coach's office for coffee and doughnuts, we had to pay for it. Coach was apologetic about it," Dave Collison explained.

"He told us that was the rule. We'd pay $5 or $6, whatever was fair for doughnuts and juice or coffee, and he'd write us receipts.

"One time, we went to coach's house for barbecue, and everybody had to pay for the meal," Collison recalled.

Former KU compliance director Janelle Martin remembers Williams -- who was abiding by an NCAA rule prohibiting parents and siblings of recruits and current players from receiving any benefits -- turning in those food and drink receipts.

"Coach was always good about that. Sometimes they'd be on little scrap pieces of paper," Martin said. "He'd get a piece of notebook paper and write it out and have the parents sign. If it was for $1.08, they'd Xerox it and give it to the business office."

Dave Collison, whose son is on a vacation in Minnesota and unavailable for comment, said he believed miscommunication caused the current flap in which Williams was cited for a violation in allowing boosters to give small graduation gifts to graduating seniors.

"He was all about doing everything by the rules. It sounded like he checked with compliance about that and they said it was OK," said Collison, who said he didn't know if his son received any graduation cards from boosters. "As far as I'm concerned, I can't imagine anybody with more integrity."

In fact ...

"One of the reasons Nick went to KU was, he felt he could trust coach Williams completely. Coach never told him anything that was untrue. Everything he told him (in recruiting) came true," said Collison, who stopped teaching and coaching when Nick arrived at KU in 2000 and now works for an athletic-equipment company selling sporting goods and scoreboards.

¢ Nick's brother: Ever wonder what happened to Michael Collison, Nick's little brother who attended several games at Allen Fieldhouse during Nick's career?

¢ ittle Michael is growing up.

"He'll be a freshman (in high school) next year. He's 6-3, maybe 6-4," Collison said. "He's grown like crazy. He's at the stage he eats everything. He plays basketball and enjoys it."

¢ Vitale's take: TV analyst Dick Vitale supports Williams in this week's column on ESPN.com.

"Give me a break. Based on the headlines, you would have thought Williams committed major infractions for years and years. But he's a man of integrity who made an honest and minor mistake," Vitale wrote.

"With all the cheating going on in college athletics, let's spend time going after the schools giving out cars, laying cash on player representatives and gaining unfair advantages in the world of recruiting. That is the real cheating, baby! ... The bottom line is, he made a mistake giving those gifts to outgoing players at Kansas. But he did not cheat, and he is a winner on and off the court. College basketball needs more coaches like Roy Williams. He is one of the good guys in the coaching fraternity. And, as this situation shows, he is also human."

Vitale's entire column is available at ESPN.com.

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