Commentary

Coaching in the modern era

Disconnect between those inside, outside game is harming college basketball

Originally Published: November 9, 2011
By Gary Williams | Special to ESPN The Magazine
Gary WilliamsG Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty ImagesGary Williams believes there is a disconnect between those in the game and those making its rules.

"Where have you been?"

Those were the first meaningful words the father of a top recruit said to me when I called a few years ago.

I was surprised, considering I placed the call in the first minute of the first day NCAA rules allowed coaches to contact potential recruits. Not only had the player heard from other schools, he'd already reduced his list of suitors to five. And Maryland was not among them.

Looking back on that experience, it was just another example of how the game has changed since I began my college coaching career almost 40 years ago as an assistant at Lafayette. Having just retired after spending 22 years leading the program at my alma mater, Maryland, I can honestly say that it's much more difficult to be a college basketball coach today than when I started. Sure, soaring media exposure and revenues make the stakes higher, but the main problem is that, whether it's born out of ignorance or denial, the vast majority of people -- including many who work for the NCAA -- don't have an accurate view of how the college game works today, nor do they understand the modern elite college basketball player.