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April 19, 2014

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Bern’s-Eye View: Current practice ban won’t have much impact on Findlay Prep

The NCAA’s enforcement of a relatively new bylaw on only a couple of national prep schools has little chance of lasting

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Steve Marcus

Findlay Prep’s Christian Wood shoots over Winston Shepard during practice at the Henderson International School campus Monday, March 26 2012.

Despite operating under its third head coach in three seasons, things couldn’t have been more business as usual at Findlay Prep practice Wednesday night. Coach Jerome Williams, an assistant for the previous four seasons, runs many of the same drills as his predecessors with a few of his own twists.

The big change was that I was the only non-team affiliated person in the Henderson International School gym for practice. This is because of the NCAA’s recent enforcement of a bylaw put in its rulebooks back in December.

The bylaw — 13.1.7.8.1-(a), for those keeping score at home — states that teams that do not compete for state championships may be deemed “non-scholastic” institutions and bans college coaches from attending practices of teams given that distinction. While Findlay Prep plays local teams like Desert Pines and Bishop Gorman highs, it is not affiliated with the NIAA and instead competes at the end of the year in the National High School Championships.

According to a Yahoo! Sports report from this weekend, college coaches have been notified that at least two schools — Findlay Prep and Huntington Prep in West Virginia — have been slapped with that label. As such, the usual crowd of different colored polos aren’t allowed in the doors for practice.

Findlay Prep coaches declined to comment much on the situation, saying only they expect it to be resolved in a matter of weeks. However, Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford had no problem speaking his mind to Yahoo! Sports.

“They’ve singled out a couple schools,” Fulford said. “We’re trying to find out why [they] were targeted. It’s confusing, and it’s unfortunate because you do it that late. Now they’ve opened up a can of worms, because there are hundreds of schools not playing for state championships.”

Why these two schools were selected is the puzzling question right now. What’s clearer is that this should have little effect on the current players’ recruitment.

First of all, during this open period coaches can still go to the Findlay Prep offices at Henderson International and meet with players. And when the Pilots start their season on Nov. 2, coaches can be in the stands. The only thing currently off the table are practices or open gyms.

And the top seniors on this year’s team, including Kelly Oubre and UNLV target Rashad Vaughn, are already known entities so there’s not much more a coach can learn from practice. The primary reason coaches attend practice is so the player can see that the coach is putting in the effort to see him. As long as coaches make up for that in other areas there’s little to nothing lost in the relationship.

Only one current Pilot has committed to a college — Craig Victor to Arizona — but there seems to be little concern from the players about the enforcement. If anything they can look at practice, if only for a little while, as a reprieve from the recruiting trail.

As for what this could do to Findlay Prep in the future, don’t expect anything to change. The feeling locally and from national people speaking to Yahoo! Sports is that this will be resolved before the Pilots play their first game. And Findlay Prep may even add to its 10-man roster in the coming weeks, showing that the momentary practice ban hasn’t affected the Pilots’ appeal.

The NCAA has taken a lot of public relations hits in recent months. The inconsistent enforcement of this bylaw looks like just the latest.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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