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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, October 03, 2017 1:00 am

Painter not surprised by FBI probe

Likens situation to that of steroid use in big league baseball

JEFF WASHBURN | For The Journal Gazette

WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue coach Matt Painter is angry but not surprised that the FBI is aggressively pursuing those who are not playing by the NCAA's rules for college basketball.

Last week, Louisville, Auburn, USC and Arizona fell under suspicion of bribery violations involving recruits that cost Louisville coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich their jobs as well as Auburn assistant Chuck Person, the former Indiana Pacers standout who was arrested.

Painter, a Purdue graduate who is entering his 13th season coaching his alma mater, compares what is happening to baseball's scandal with steroids.

“Obviously, it's pretty sad,” Painter said. “You don't wish ill will on anybody – especially people in your business – but it's one of those things you can kind of compare to steroids in Major League Baseball. When that whole thing happened, I think we all wondered what will baseball look like in 15 or 20 years, and what will happen to a lot of guys in baseball who made that decision.

“I think baseball is better because of it. Obviously, there are still guys here or there who get suspended, but I think the game is better. Hopefully with this, it will send a loud message throughout college basketball. (The FBI) obviously is not messing around. I applaud what they are doing. Some people decided not to (play by the rules).”

Painter said Purdue is and always will be a program that plays by the rules.

“Some people are going to pay the price, but it doesn't affect me one bit,” Painter said. “I think the only thing you can worry about is what you do. You put your best foot forward and make the right decisions. Things of this nature have been happening, and they have been happening for a long time. It's not something that just started up.

“Getting the federal government involved to clean it up, I think is a positive. I think what I read is pretty close to being accurate. You like to form your opinion off facts you have gathered. Obviously, something triggered it. They kind of dropped a bomb.”

With some elite players reportedly being as much as $100,000 to attend a certain school, Painter said a coach learns quickly when a player expects to be paid. He said at that point, Purdue goes in a different direction, seeking only players who simply want to be at Purdue. Painter calls it navigating a situation.

“You shouldn't be rewarded for doing the things you are supposed to do,” Painter said. “I don't think they should stage a parade for coaches who do it the right way. It is like raising your kids. You don't get a reward for raising them the right way. You make the best decisions for your own kids, and you make the best decisions for your own program.”

With likely severe penalties ahead for some schools, some high-profile players will be looking for a new place to play. Painter said when that happens, Purdue “will not be blinded by the talent.”

National Association of Basketball Coaches executive director Jim Haney – like Painter – is troubled by the recent developments.

“The allegations of recruiting improprieties across the college basketball landscape have shaken the game and the coaching profession to the core,” Haney said. “As role models and teachers of young men, we hold ourselves to the highest standards of lawful, ethical behavior – on and off the court.

“These actions, if proven true, are not indicative of the character of the greater college coaching community, and we remain confident in our NABC members' shared commitment to integrity.”