Michael Young, who has been with the University of Houston men’s basketball program as a player during the Phi Slama Jama years and more recently as the director of operations is suing the school. That is not in itself odd. What is noteworthy is what Young wants out of the lawsuit. In May, Young was reassigned from his position as director of operations to a community service projects role, reporting outside of the basketball staff. Young signed a one-year contract, but now wants out:
“So that Michael will not be part of a fraud for one second,” attorney Reginald McKamie said. “We want the contract rescinded from the outset so there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Michael has not engaged in any fraud of the NCAA rules or defrauding Texas taxpayers of any money.”
This raises two questions. First, why would someone want a contract for a no-work job rescinded. And second, does Michael Young have a point that the contract violates NCAA rules?
Young’s situation is complicated by the presence of his son, Joseph Young, on the Houston men’s basketball team. Following the reassignment, Joseph decided to transfer to Oregon. Michael says the events that lead to Joseph’s transfer merit a waiver so Joseph can play immediately at Oregon. But unlike Trey Ziegler, who played immediately at Pitt following his father’s firing at Central Michigan, Michael Young is still employed by Houston. Getting his contract rescinded would be helpful in establishing that he was in fact fired, which would make Joseph’s waiver more or less a formality.
But what about the crux of Michael Young’s lawsuit, that his new contract violates NCAA rules? The best argument is Bylaw 11.4.2, which was adopted in 2010 as part of the Board of Directors’ efforts to clean up men’s basketball recruiting. Bylaw 11.4.2 states that:
In men’s basketball, during a two-year period before a prospective student-athlete’s anticipated enrollment and a two-year period after the prospective student-athlete’s actual enrollment, an institution shall not employ (or enter into a contract for future employment with) an individual associated with the prospective student-athlete in any athletics department noncoaching staff position or in a strength and conditioning staff position.
Michael Young is an individual associated with a prospect (IWAP) for Joseph, as Bylaw 13.02.17 expressly includes parents or guardians in the definition. Michael’s position is also included in the bylaw, since he was not one of the four countable coaches for Houston. But Joseph was allowed to play for Houston and no violation occurred because Michael was grandfathered in, since his employment started before October 29, 2009.
With a new position and new contract, especially given the accusations made by Michael Young that he would have the job while Joseph continued to play for Houston, the new position may very well be prohibited by Bylaw 11.4.2. Rolling over or renewing a contract is one thing. Reassigning someone to what looks like exactly the sort of no-show job the bylaw sought to prevent is another.
If the NCAA agrees with Michael Young that his new position violates NCAA rules, he may not need to win the lawsuit at all. His son’s transfer will be necessitated by the fact that Joseph is permanently ineligible at Houston. The one hiccup would be explaining to the NCAA why he initially accepted the job, although disavowing the contract and sending back paychecks will go a long way. This is also a much easier situation for Young that if he had been hired to this position and then thought better of it, rather than being reassigned.