Thursday, April 17, 2003

Kansas protests Williams' comments
about recruits

By Doug Tucker
The Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Kansas officials want to stop former basketball coach Roy Williams from engaging in what could be perceived as a subtle attempt to lure away two top prospects.

Kansas is not saying Williams has necessarily tampered under NCAA rules, associate athletic director Janelle Martin explained Wednesday.

Williams, who announced Monday he was leaving the Jayhawks for North Carolina, denied he was trying to coax anyone into seeking relief from a commitment to Kansas.

"That's as far from the truth as it could possibly be," he told Kansas City radio station WHB on Wednesday.

During the early signing period, Williams recruited what many consider one of the finest incoming freshman classes in the nation. Among the players are Omar Wilkes, a 6-foot-4 guard from Los Angeles, and David Padgett, a 7-foot high school All-American from Reno, Nev.

Padgett had narrowed his choices to Kansas and North Carolina, but opted for the Jayhawks because he wanted to play for Williams. In interviews since being hired by North Carolina, Williams has repeatedly mentioned Wilkes and Padgett.

"I don't think it's fair to David Padgett to be stuck out there now and yet, in that national letter of intent that they do have to sign, they put in bolt print, 'You are signing with the school, not the coach,' " Williams told ESPN on Tuesday. "But that doesn't make it right."

Williams also said he thought there should be "a window of opportunity" for Padgett to seek his release from Kansas.

Kansas is not saying Williams' has necessarily tampered under NCAA rules, associate athletic director Janelle Martin explained. For one thing, Williams might have spoken before actually signing a contract with North Carolina, which would be a key technicality.

"Nevertheless, I would think that once you're announced as coach at North Carolina, you are a representative of North Carolina and you are no longer a representative of your former institution," Martin said. "When a prospect signs a letter of intent, which these individuals did, then all other institutions agree to respect that and cease recruiting that individual.

"You shouldn't be talking to them or trying to recruit them in any manner."

At this point, Kansas has lodged its complaint with North Carolina - not to the NCAA. Martin declined to say in what fashion the protest was lodged.

"It was a group of individuals here," she said. "We're satisfied with the response. I think both North Carolina and Kansas understand what rule is at issue.

"We'll just see what happens with subsequent interviews."

Pete Padgett has said his son will wait to see who succeeds Williams at Kansas, but is leaving open the possibility of asking the Jayhawks for relief.

Williams said his statements were misconstrued.

"What I meant to say is those two probably came to Kansas more for Roy Williams than they did just because it's Kansas," he said. "I wasn't recruiting them. (There is) nothing I can say to change what happened, except I apologize and I'm sorry.

"Those two kids made a decision that Roy Williams was a big part of, even though (a) national letter says in bold print you're signing with the school."

A full release from a letter of intent is the only way for student-athletes to move on to another school without sitting out a year and losing at least one season of eligibility.

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