A couple of weeks back, a little birdie told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Don Walker that Marquette was investigating a potential recruiting violation involving the men's basketball program. To most, the story seemed to be much ado about nothing, especially when the boys at Paint Touches confirmed that the potential violation was merely a secondary violation. And when the rumormill churned out the information that the violation involved an assistant coach giving some team apparel to a recruit, the story looked like even more of a yawner. And yet, for two weeks, the University said nothing about the issue.
Yesterday night, we learned why MU had been so tight-lipped about things: the men's basketball program was in the middle of an investigation headed up by an independent, outside law firm, which ultimately found that assistant coach Scott Monarch -- the longest-tenured member of Buzz Williams' coaching staff -- had not only provided improper benefits to a recruit (in the form of apparel and a ride home from campus, apparently), but had repeatedly lied about the matter when confronted by the investigators. Proving the old adage that the cover-up is always worse than the crime (especially in the post-Penn State sanctions NCAA world), Monarch's lack of candor cost him his job last night, and also landed Buzz Williams in a time-out for Marquette's Big East opener in 2012.
The news about Monarch isn't all that surprising; he was noticeably absent from Buzz's BBQ earlier this summer, and the writing was probably on the wall for him as soon as the first lie escaped his lips. (Why he felt compelled to lie about giving a kid a T-shirt is another matter, though, and a potentially troubling one. As an MU source told Jeff Goodman yesterday: "If Monarch had been truthful, he'd almost certainly still have a job.") The more intriguing news is the one-game suspension for Coach Buzz, which appears to be a "he's the captain of the ship, he's responsible for the actions of the crew" type deal, since there doesn't seem to be any evidence he (Buzz) participated in or knew what Monarch was doing. Given the focus on institutional control in today's NCAA, then, the news isn't completely shocking, and Buzz seemed to acknowledge as much in his statement on the situation yesterday:
"I take personal responsibility for what happens in this program and realize we must be role models to both our team and the entire University."
Even still, that suspension won't do anything to slow the rumors that there's a major rift between Buzz and Marquette Athletic Director Larry Williams. CBS' Gary Parrish was quick to throw gas on that particular fire last night:
By the way, Buzz Williams getting a suspension from his school b/c an assistant lied is the type of thing that makes men look at other jobs.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) August 25, 2012
FUN TIMES! If ever there's been a year where the season needs to start as soon as possible, this is that year.