Coach: Duquesne shoes went to troops
A Florida junior-college coach who created a program to benefit U.S. troops in Afghanistan said Saturday that donations from several Division I basketball coaches, including Duquesne's Ron Everhart, were used exclusively for the troops — and not for his team.
Everhart reportedly sent 15 pairs of shoes to Broward College coach Bob Starkman in September. They were to be forwarded to members of the Army's 187th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, to which Starkman's son-in-law, Staff Sgt. Chuck Burrows, belongs.
But the gesture prompted the Duquesne athletic department to send a letter to the NCAA, self-reporting itself for a possible violation of a rule that prohibits schools from sending equipment to a junior-college coach.
"Even more than notifying the NCAA and asking them to check on the matter, institutions first will check it themselves and make a determination that it was an unintentional violation," said Ed Pasque, Atlantic 10 Conference associate commissioner for governance and external affairs. "It's hard for me to say one way or another what this is, but if Duquesne has looked at it and treated it as a secondary process, I would trust them."
Other schools have made contributions to Starkman's cause, he said, explaining that he receives perishable and nonperishable items of all sorts from numerous sources. Responding to a report that referred to Internet photos of the his team wearing various brands of sneakers — some supposedly the Adidas model that Duquesne wears — Starkman said no items sent to him from Everhart, Kansas State coach Frank Martin or Texas Tech associate head coach Chris Beard were used by his team.
"There is one kid wearing black-and-white Adidas shoes. Ron Everhart sent me blue-and-white Adidas shoes," said Starkman, a retired federal agent with the U.S. Customs department who is in his 14th season at Broward. "I've got a decorated background. If there was something to hide, why would I have a Facebook webpage that I put together out of the goodness of my heart for my future son-in-law and the troops• That's what I don't understand.
"In all my years that I've known Ron, he has never recruited one of my players. We have a friendship outside of basketball. It doesn't matter if my kids wear Keds; the shoes donated to us were given to the troops."
Duquesne athletic director Greg Amodio issued a statement Friday acknowledging a possible secondary rules violation but has not commented further, pending the outcome of a letter sent to the NCAA last week.
"Typically, the NCAA processes those matters as opposed to imposing a penalty," Pasque said. "It's actually common in NCAA athletics. The rules are complex and change every time."