Mike Krzyzewski offers explanation after Wendell Carter Jr. named in report

ByRyan McGee ESPN logo
Sunday, February 25, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. -- After a 60-44 dispatching of Syracuseat Cameron Indoor Stadium, Dukehead coach Mike Krzyzewski and star freshman Wendell Carter Jr.both said they were comfortable with where they stand after Carter's name was attached to Friday's revelatory Yahoo! Sports report on the FBI's ongoing investigation into illegal recruiting practices throughout college basketball.

"It wasn't a distraction because I know I didn't do anything wrong," Carter said after a 16-point performance. He repeated the following line whenever asked about the FBI report: "My family didn't do anything wrong. No one around me did anything wrong. I knew I was going to play. Once I got out on the court, it was all good. It felt good."

Added Krzyzewski: "We are very comfortable with where we are on this. We don't feel like we are taking any chances with this. We very confident about this particular thing."

Krzyzewski laid out in considerable detail how Duke University handled Carter's clearance to play on Saturday, even while other schools chose to hold out other players named in the FBI documents. He said he was out walking his dog, Blue, when he received an anxious phone call from the player's mother, Kylia Carter. She recalled a dinner with an agent, as listed in the report, whom she described as "a friend of a friend" but told Krzyzewski that her husband immediately didn't like the dinner company and left, while she stayed behind to be polite. But she also left before any food was ordered.

With that information in hand, Krzyzewski and Carter's parents met with Duke's NCAA compliance officials and then held a conference call to share the same details with NCAA compliance officers. Both the university and the governing body agreed that there was no reason for Wendell Jr. to miss Saturday's game.

After paying compliments to the quick work of his Duke coworkers and the NCAA, Krzyzewski turned his comments toward the larger issue of corruption in the sport, where he reigns as the all-time Division I leader in coaching victories.

"This is a horrible time for the game. The game has begged, it has been on its knees begging, for change for years. Sometimes, unless something horrible happens, you just don't change. We need to change. We need to take a look at amateurism and look at it probably defining it differently. We have to look through the prism of a 16-year old kid and a family and what they should be allowed and make sure it's the same thing that is allowed to other NCAA athletes. Or maybe do something that would be ahead of the game. Let's become more modern in what we're doing."

He specifically spoke of modernization in terms of how the NCAA defines amateurism in the future, and how that new definition might open doors to a more formalized, easier-to-police system of recruiting, beginning with how high school and college athletes are guided through the process.

"I don't how much longer I'm going to coach, but maybe for [younger coaches], when they go into a home, there's an agent there. Which may not be bad. Because at least [recruits] would be getting expert advice that they chose. They wouldn't have to go around, and say, well, I know this guy and I know this guy. Maybe there's a way of checking their credentials. The NCAA could provide guidance to freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, that agents would have to register and you would have look at their profiles."

The coach was quick to remind that the focus of the FBI investigation isn't about what happens after players finally choose a team and get onto a campus.

"Most of this stuff is because of what happens before they get here. So that's the area we should do it in. And once they get here, we will then change that environment based on what we've changed there. Look, I don't have the solution. I just know that that's where the problems are."

Then, Krzyzewski unknowingly added to the comments of the coach who'd preceded him at the same podium, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, who reminded the room that the FBI investigation seemed to be based on information from only one agent belonging to one agency, a drop in the bucket of the complicated high school-to-college basketball recruiting business.

"Whether there's more or not, there's enough now to cause us to change," saidKrzyzewski. "I hope there's not anymore. For any college coach, the thing that always worries me is what I don't know ... we can't know everything, We know everything that's possible while they're here. But it's impossible for you to know what went on before they got here. Impossible. Just totally impossible."