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A Piggie Timeline

As we all know, the situation emanating from the Piggie Imbroglio continues
to resonate through college basketball. When someone reminded us that Stanford
and Illinois were in it for Maggette until the very end (you may remember he
didn't even tell his brother what he was thinking), we thought it would be
useful to look back at the chronology of events surrounding this whole thing, so
here it is.

  • Fall 1997: Kansas booster Tom Grant stops funding Piggie’s AAU team due to
    allegations over selling shoes. He continues to pay Piggie
    as a severance agreement.

  • 10/19/97: JaRon Rush takes official visit to Kansas.
  • 11/12/97: Maggette signs with Duke.
  • 11/19/97: JaRon Rush makes verbal commitment to Kansas.
  • 12/97: JaRon Rush confirms verbal commitment to Kansas and says “it would take and act of god” to change his mind.
  • 2/10/98: Rush questions Roy Williams’ coaching style. Tells reporter “...I still might go there.”
  • 2/13/98: Roy Williams drops Rush.
  • Spring 1998: Andre Williams tells Tom Grant about cash payments.
  • 5/27/98: Andre Williams meets with private investigator
    hired by Tom Grant
  • 6/1998: Tom Grant stops paying severance to Piggie

This is interesting on a number of levels. First of all, you have a Kansas alum
and booster funding an AAU coach and getting himself in what you would think is
a conflict of interest, at least in a relevant basketball sense.

Second, it's pretty obvious that Roy Williams was in hot pursuit of JaRon
Williams until the deal went sour. Keep in mind that this is the same Roy
Williams who was so concerned about Florida's recruiting of Mike Miller that he
reported them to the NCAA.

Third, Stanford and Illinois were in hot pursuit of Maggette as well up until
the bitter end.

Now Illinois has been the subject of rumors periodically, but Duke, Stanford,
and Kansas, under Williams anyway (his predecessor, also from UNC roots, Larry
Brown, got Kansas into a lot of trouble with the NCAA), have all been regarded
as straight shooters.

Remember that
JaRon Rush reportedly received over 8 times the amount of cash Maggette
allegedly got. Remember that
Piggie’s operation was partially funded by Kansas alum and
booster Tom Grant. Remember that Rush was a local Kansas
kid and had attended 4 straight Late Nights (their version
of Midnight Madness). One would have to believe that given
all that ­ the amount of money given to Rush, the connection
between Grant and the university, and the closeness, geographic and
otherwise, of Rush
to the Kansas program ­ if anyone would have a clue as to
what was going on with Piggie’s AAU team it would have been
Roy Williams. Despite all that Williams was ready to accept
Rush as late as February of 1998.

It wasn't until after Rush called his press conference that
Williams announced he was no longer recruiting him. With all that has been
alleged, should Rush have been “shocked” to be dropped?

fact, if the allegations are true that Piggie wanted to keep him from Kansas at
all costs, that may have been his plan all along: after allegedly taking the payoff from Piggie, Rush
may have needed to create some sort of reason to break his oral
commitment. If that is in fact correct, then Williams’ understandable reaction to Rush's
comments would have played right into JaRon’s hands.

The timeline and Roy Williams’ involvement with JaRon Rush
also raises some questions to those who claim that the Tar
Heels dropped Maggette because they were concerned he was damaged goods.
Apparently Gut sent Corey a letter informing him they were
no longer going to be recruiting him, and Corey supposedly told somebody from one of the recruiting publications that he
had to talk to UNC because they “may have heard some things
about me.” From this it is extrapolated that the Heels must
have been aware of the current allegations about Maggette’s relationship
with Piggie (what they probably heard was what was widely circulated at the
time: Maggette's play over the summer was so unimpressive that he dropped
from being generally considered the #1 prospect in his class to as low as, if we
remember, the 24th, thought this was just as likely because of Piggie's coaching
as anything else. It defies intelligence that a kid who won't tell his own
brother what he thinks about his college options would just blurt out to a
recruiting magazine that they "may have heard some things about me" if
those things were in some way damning).

If that's the case then you have to wonder why Gut didn't
call his good friend Roy and share his concerns about
Piggie’s program, but one week after Maggette signed, Kansas accepted Rush's
oral commitment.

Certainly something as potentially damaging as this
could be would be shared with a member of the “family,” just as Eddie Fogler
joined with Roy Williams to go after Bret Bearup.

Either it
wasn't shared, which is inconceivable given the nature of the UNC way, or Williams decided to ignore it and
accept Rush. Or even more likely, the Tar Heel staff, like Duke's, Illinois'
and Stanford's, didn't
have prior knowledge of Piggie's alleged payoffs. Or just as likely, they felt
comfortable with where they stood with Jason Capel, who
committed on October 12th,
a situation which was echoed this spring when
they dropped Omar Cook for Adam Boone.

As a matter of fact, at the time, we
said this: "Give our friend Otto Bland credit, it looks like he's called this one correctly. We've now heard from two other sources that Jason Capel is
'leaning heavily' toward making an early commitment to Carolina. Although he likely may wait until the spring to sign, look for Capel to make a verbal commitment no later
[than] the fall. Big question: What impact does that have on the recruiting process of Corey Maggette, whom Carolina is also strongly recruiting in recent weeks?"

At the time it seemed pretty clear that UNC continued to pursue Maggette
until the position was filled.

The fact that UNC, Duke, Stanford, and Illinois all pursued Maggette to the end (UNC dropped out shortly after October 3rd, when Jason Capel committed, and Maggette signed with Duke 9 days later), combined with Duke's, UNC's, and Stanford's excellent reputations, would indicate to us that while there were,
in retrospect, obviously serious problems with Piggie's program, the alarm bells weren't going off for these schools,
or for Kansas, which of course was pretty close to ground zero.

In fact if anyone should be counting their blessings, it should be Roy
Williams, who was caught between Grant and Piggie as Piggie allegedly paid Rush
not to go to Kansas. We can only imagine what would have happened had Rush
gone there and this had happened. Kansas and Tom Grant would have a lot to
answer for.