UH's James Dickey, Todd Buchanan: Dying To Coach But Can't Right Now

Due to NCAA regulations, coaches aren't allowed to work with their players and recruits during the summer. I've always found this kind of strange since coaches are coaches, and there are lots of college athletes on campus during the summer taking classes and working out with the strength-and-conditioning coaches, which is allowed.


This can be especially bothersome to a college program when you have a situation like that facing the Houston Cougars men's and women's basketball teams this summer.

Both teams have new head coaches and new assistant coaches, and while the reputations of the players is known, and while the coaches can actually talk to the players and watch game film of the players, what they can't do is actually coach the players.

"It's difficult," men's coach James Dickey told Hair Balls. "And from the player's perspective, they're going to be playing. They're going to be working them out. And it would be nice if the coaches from the respective sports could be doing that. I don't think any coach I've talked to wants to have year-round practices, but I think that all sports, softball to baseball, they're going to be playing in the summer.

"Basketball, football players are going to be conditioning, lifting, working out, running, catching passes, doing their skill work, and so it would be nice if you could have your collegiate staff available to them. Right now, the rules do not permit that. I think that's something that comes up at a lot of the rules sessions, to have more access. But right now, we can't, so you just have to do the best you can and get cranked up again come September."

Dickey may not actually be coaching any of his players right now. But he and his assistants are busy. They're still settling into their new offices. They're still out recruiting players, and Dickey is out with athletic director Mack Rhoades selling the alumni on the plans to renovate Hofheinz Pavilion which is perhaps the most important thing that can be done for the survival and advancement of the school's basketball programs.

"It's been a pretty hectic pace, but that's typical for college coaches," Dickey said. "There's a lot to be done. We're doing a lot of firsts. We're getting ready to start our camps, and that's a first for us here. And then we go on the road in July. It's going to be a very busy time. There certainly has not been any down time. We'll catch our breath just a little bit in August, then things will start again. But the month of June, we got three weeks of camp, then we've got 20 days of recruiting in July, then we've got a few days in August before school starts."

Things are working the same for Todd Buchanan, the new women's coach. He recently completed his staff, and he's out there on the recruiting trail, trying to nail down his team for this season. But if there was just one thing he could be doing right now, it would be coaching his players, players he has only had the chance to watch.

"It's very difficult. You want to get your hands on them, and a basketball as soon as you possibly can, but in the parameters of the NCAA rules," he said. "You have to understand, and it is what it is. I do think it's unfortunate, what with the way the rules are set up.

"Obviously they're set up to protect the student athlete, and the players, you know the kids, and I understand that, but for those of us who have always done it the right way, and always will, and don't compromise, I really think when you throw out the monies that we throw out for summer school, and those kind of things.

"I really, really wish that the NCAA would look at those kind of rules and maybe implementing them and tweaking them in the fact that hey, we're putting them through school during the summer just like we do during the academic year," he said. "I wish that someway, somehow down the line they'd implement and kind of tweak the rule and let us a have a certain amount of hours to do exactly that. To give them more about basketball, and really, their skill development."

It's a strange thing, being a coach, but not being able to coach. Yet it's something that Dickey, Buchanan, and coaches throughout the NCAA deal with every summer. Most do get through it, some don't. And it's safe to say that there are no two people more ready for the end of summer than James Dickey and Todd Buchanan.


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