ARIZONA ATHLETICS

Law makes recruiting 'interesting'

Rival coaches might try to use SB 1070 against state schools
2010-05-08T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T09:44:40Z Law makes recruiting 'interesting'Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 08, 2010 12:00 am  • 

When Dominican Republic native Eloy Vargas takes an official recruiting visit to check out Arizona's basketball program next week, he may not be too worried about the state's new immigration law.

"I think the only people who would be bothered by that are the those that are doing some stuff that's not right," said Vargas' traveling team coach, Kenny Gillion. "He's legit."

But it also wouldn't be a surprise if rival recruiters try to make Vargas think hard about any potential ramifications of SB 1070, which gives Arizona police broader powers to detain anyone suspected of being in the United States illegally.

"In negative recruiting, coaches will reach for anything," said Tennessee-based Jerry Meyer, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "I wouldn't be shocked if a coach would use it."

Neither would longtime UA track and field coach Fred Harvey, who has already received joking remarks from fellow coaches in other states.

"And you know if they're joking, beyond a shadow of a doubt, somebody will use it against you," Harvey said.

Despite having athletes from all over the world, Harvey said he hasn't yet had any backlash over the law from parents, athletes or recruits. The biggest immigration-related hassle he has encountered lately occurred when a few Canadian athletes were questioned heavily at Tucson International Airport earlier this spring because they weren't carrying their student visas - and that was before Arizona's law was passed.

"It's going to be an interesting time," Harvey said.

Former UA interim basketball coach Russ Pennell, now the head coach at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, will also be watching closely to see what happens. Last season, Pennell's roster had a Californian with Mexican parents and two natives of Cameroon.

"Time will tell how it will play out from a recruiting standpoint," Pennell said. "I think the law was designed to get the attention of the federal government. Our Cameroon guys had to go through the proper channels and … I think the whole deal is if you go through the proper channels you can be here."

Clark Francis, publisher of the HoopScoop recruiting service, said he didn't think the law was a big deal for college athletes, though it will require schools such as UA and ASU to explain to any concerned parents what it means.

"I'd tell parents it'll make it safer," Francis said. It's just, "does he have a drivers license?"

Harvey said the situation reminds him of Arizona defeating a Martin Luther King holiday proposal in 1990, when "we had to do more explaining" with parents and athletes.

It isn't clear how the majority of coaches across the state feel about the immigration issue. Many other UA coaches declined to reply to messages this week, and UA spokesman Richard Paige said basketball coach Sean Miller would not comment on it.

At NAU, two coaches with multiple foreign athletes did not answer messages to the Star, and athletic director Jim Fallis declined comment through a spokesman.

Meanwhile, ASU spokesman Mark Brand said neither AD Lisa Love nor any Sun Devil coach would comment on the issue.

The law and its potential effects were not formally discussed at this week's Pac-10 meetings in Phoenix, though conference commissioner Larry Scott said he is aware of the concerns and also the current reactions to it.

"It appears to be a fluid situation, and that's why we're monitoring it very carefully," Scott said. "At this point in time, I'd be reluctant to predict what impact there might be."

Academically, UA officials have already stated concerns that the law could impact student applications. But in athletics, new UA athletic director Greg Byrne indicated cautious optimism.

"You always want to be concerned about different issues taking place wherever you are," Byrne said. "However we certainly know because of the great university and community and state we're in … we know that when a student-athlete comes to visit the University of Arizona they'll see a great place."

And, Pennell said, if they don't see it that way, it's not because of SB 1070.

"If a kid has a chance to play basketball at the University of Arizona, he's not going to pass that up," Pennell said. "If he does, it's for another reason."

"And you know if they're joking, beyond a shadow of a doubt, somebody will use it against you."

Fred Harvey

Arizona track and field coach on other coaches' comments to him on SB 1070

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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