Tubby Smith: Memphis coach misunderstood NCAA rule

by John Hageman

 Minnesota men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith said Memphis head coach John Pastner misunderstood an NCAA rule by watching Gophers junior forward Trevor Mbakwe during a recent Howard Pulley summer league game, according to the Pioneer Press. 

Pastner was in Minnesota to recruit at the Best Buy Summer Classic in Bloomington and stopped by a Howard Pulley game on July 13. According to the Pioneer Press, the NCAA lets players play in the Howard Pulley League, but because it is not NCAA-certified, coaches cannot watch or recruit players there.

"I think they probably misunderstood what the rules were," Smith said according to the Pioneer Press. "It might have been miscommunication or something. I don’t know."

Mbakwe received permission to explore his transfer options in May after not seeing the court for the entire season due to pending felony assault charges. Mbakwe’s oft-delayed trial was recently pushed back from July 26 to August 23. Memphis is one of the teams that Mbakwe is considering transferring to if his trial is not resolved soon and athletics director Joel Maturi doesn’t lift his ban from playing.

According to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, the misunderstanding may have come from the Memphis compliance officer Nicole Green, who cleared Pastner to be there. The report also claims that Memphis will likely receive nothing more than a letter of reprimand from the NCAA.