Bill Self: Security tricky subject

Kansas guard Ben McLemore smiles next to head coach Bill Self after saying that he will miss Self during a news conference in which McLemore declared his intention to enter the 2013 NBA Draft. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Kansas guard Ben McLemore smiles next to head coach Bill Self after saying that he will miss Self during a news conference in which McLemore declared his intention to enter the 2013 NBA Draft. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Longtime college basketball coach/ESPN announcer Seth Greenberg on Friday asked Kansas University’s Bill Self if it’s time schools create a new position called “director of security.”

That person’s duties could include looking into players’ relationships with individuals who might ultimately cause problems with the NCAA. In KU’s case, that means individuals such as Rodney Blackstock, the man who allegedly tried to get close to KU freshman Ben McLemore the second half of last season in order to steer him to agent candidates.

“We have not thought about that. We have thought about other things (like) putting people on our staff in charge of certain things, and our athletic department has talked about potentially even doing background checks for every person that a kid ever leaves tickets for,” Self said on the ESPNU college basketball show hosted by Greenberg and Andy Katz.

“A lot of times on situations like that, even with background checks, it’d turn up nothing. Just like this case would turn up nothing. You can get information on people, but you can’t measure motives.”

Blackstock, who is not a registered agent, attended three home games on McLemore’s personal ticket list last season. Players are allowed four tickets to distribute per game. McLemore in published reports has described Blackstock as a friend.

“It’s hard to totally monitor,” Self said of ticket lists and keeping track of who players are associating with. “What if a kid is dating a girlfriend whose father or uncle has a criminal background? Is that a problem? No, it’s not a problem at all. There’s no legislation that says anything like that remotely would be a problem (in leaving tickets). What you have to get into is obviously the agent and working for agents, those kind of things. I think we could do more. I think all programs could do more, but I think it could potentially be very difficult, taking away the freedoms to basically live and do what they (players’ families) feel they need to do for themselves and their family.”

Self said a potential warning sign of impropriety could be if a player’s family members start showing up from faraway distances at both home and away games, if it is known they don’t have much money.

Yet, Self cautioned ...

“Does that mean we have to monitor every single receipt that they have just because they are low income when you don’t do that with any other families from higher income?” Self asked.

“(They might ask) ‘Can’t we save our money, too?’ I think you’re getting into so many personal things. We have to be real careful we don’t go too far because where does it stop? I’m all for keeping third parties (runners, agents) out of the game and all those things.

“But I think if somebody comes to a game and we said, ‘OK, you can watch your son play, but I need you to document every receipt on how you got here,’ I think you are getting personal. If I were a parent, I’d say, ‘Who do you think you are?’ It’s something we have to watch out for also.”

McLemore told ESPN’s Katz at the NBA combine that he knew nothing about any payments that his former AAU coach (Darius Cobb) told USA Today he received from Blackstock. The payments allegedly were to direct McLemore to an agent.

Cobb told USA Today he took $10,000 in two separate payments. “I think this was just to attack Rodney Blackstock,” said McLemore, who told Katz he took no money personally from Blackstock and did not commit any NCAA violations.

“The whole thing is ... I think it is school’s responsibility to monitor and try (to stop players from associating with agents and runners). I don’t think Ben in any way, shape or form benefited from this, at least from our opinion,” Self told Katz and Greenberg.

Big 12: Self on next year’s Big 12 race, now that Andrew Wiggins has joined the fold to counter Oklahoma State phenom Marcus Smart: “I think from a national perspective a lot of people thought we took a dip based on prior years,” Self said of the league in 2012-13. “Our RPI in the last five years was top three. This year it took a little bit of a dip. I think we are back to being one of the premier leagues. Baylor is going to be good. Oklahoma State will be a preseason top-five team. We have a chance to be good. Other teams will be good. I think our league is back where it needs to be.”

K-State is hoping for a boost Sunday. That’s the day Memphis transfer Antonio Barton will choose either Kansas State, Maryland, Texas A&M or Tennessee.