Northern Guilford basketball coach Stan Kowalewski and his family are currently on their way back to Greensboro after a week’s vacation at Pawley’s Island, South Carolina along with the family of former UNCG coach, and now the head man at Siena, Fran McCaffery.
This has been a yearly ritual for several years, but this year the family trip has taken on a whole new feeling. The feeling of, “what’s going to happen next?”
The entire athletic program at Nothern Guilford is currently under investigation and the scrutiny on Coach K’s basketball program has been heavy and the coach took time out from his trip to talk to us this afternoon in an attempt to clear the air and also give himself a chance to breathe and let some of his own personal feelings be known to the public.
With the cloud, in regards to recruiting, hanging over the Northern Guilford campus, the question for coach Stan Kowalewski becomes, Coach Stays or Coach Goes?
Coach K wants to stay and he answers the questions that have been flying about in the aftermath of last Friday’s resignations by Northern Guilford principal Joe Yeagar and athletic director Darrell Force.
Coach K wants to stay and he said he is willing to give up all AAU Basketball coaching tomorrow if that is necessary to make sure everything is operating above board at Northern. Coach K also said he would join the teaching staff at Northern if that’s what it takes to get this program headed in what Guilford County would consider, the right direction.
Coach K did say he would be glad to make the above changes if this were to become an across the board county policy. He feels that is the only fair way to address this situation. If this can not be implemented he said he would go ahead and make these moves himself to be the example and to ensure that his program is where the county feels it needs to be, but again, Coach K feels that if this becomes a reality, that it should be the same at all schools.
Coach K said he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his basketball program above board and that he feels his program is there now but if changes are needed he’s willing to listen and to change.
Coach K also said his program has been investigated and no wrong doing has been found. There have been many questions pertaining to many issues and we talked about them this afternoon.
The biggest issue of all has been that of Residency.
All of the Northern Guilford basketball players live in the Nothern Guilford district. The most investigated player of them all, Jacob Lawson, lives within walking distance of the school. The Guilford County Schools’ Human Resources Department and attorney Jill Wilson have conducted their studies and they are still under investigation.
Another issue that has been called into question is that of the Academic Qualifications. Have all of the Northern players qualified academically?
The Northern Guilford basketball team has a team GPA(Grade Point Average) of 3.8 based on a 4.0 system. In this case or issue, here is the evidence. The Northern Guilford basketball program has a formula based on four key components.
The top priority in the chain of command is the Academics. The academics come first. Northern Guilford has voluntary Study Halls during the pre-season and also during the off-season and the Study Halls become mandatory during the basketball season. When Coach K was at High Point Central he sent 14 of his 16 players on to college and a 15th guy is looking to return to college this fall. Coach K worked with and helped all the young men get in school and he is currently doing the same with his Nothern Guilford Nighthawk team.
Another issue that has caused questions and has required answers has been, “Why have your players been living in your house; why have the basketball players been living in Coach Kowalewski’s home?”
The Nighthawks have a program where they mentor and tutor elementary kids at the Summerfield Elementary School on Thursdays. On Thursdays at Nothern High School they have Late Starts where the school day begins at around 9am instead of at 8am. On those days the basketball players have been going over to the Summerfield Elementary School and helping to work with and tutor the elementary kids. Coach K and his wife help set up this program as a team Community Service project and sounds like a good one.
The key questions from this project coming from the Guilford County Schools are, “Why are these kids staying over at your house, because your wife has been seen taking your basketball players to school on Thursday mornings?” Coach K’s wife has been taking the players to school so they can get there on time after their Thursday tutoring programs are complete and the players are not living in the coach’s house.
Another question has been, “Where did all the money come from?”
Speculaton has been widespread that the players were getting a free ride and that all the basketball trips and the shoes and the warmups and food before games and the food after study halls was FREE! The Northern players have been given all these goods and it didn’t cost them dime. No wonder every kid that can shoot the rock wants to go to Northern.
The cost of the trips, shoes, warmups, meals etc. amounts to roughly $40,000 dollars. The players worked and raised this money themselves by having a yearly golf tournament, a Summer Jamboree 2-day Basketball Tournament, a JV Holliday Basketball Tournament, the Piedmont Challenge, the Wachovia Classic and other events and the players were taught to raise this money themselves.
Coach K told us today that his program, staff and kids are clean. There is no evidence against them. Coach K did inform us that if any wrong doing was found, the punishment would be applied to the student involved and not the team. The State 3-A Championship would stay at Northern and the player would receive a one-year suspension.
Coach K also told us that he knows of other instances in the County where coaches have been interested in his Northern players leaving Northern and coming to their schools. Coach K said he doesn’t foresee losing any players and that he wants to keep his job, his team and his staff in tact.
The only time Coach Kowalewski has been called into the Guilford County School offices was during the mediations with John Hughes of Northwest Guilford to the discuss their lawsuit.
Coach Kowaleski said he is aware of the fact that that last spring, the then new-basketball coach at Northwest Guilford, Manny Bloom, conducted illegal basketball practices during the month of May at NWG including Northwest Middle schoolers and that Northwest was found guilty and they were forced to pay a fine.
That now brings us to the final and most on-going question and it goes along with our earlier point about Residency.
Has there been any recruiting of basketball players by Coach Kowalewski or any member of his staff at Northern Guilford?
Coach K says no. Players want to play at Northern, you do not have to recruit them. It is a great school and who wouldn’t want to go there and play basketball?
We will continue this discussion in more detail at a later time, but the question stays out there for everyone to think about, but the County will have the final say on this one.
Coach Stays or Coach Goes? With the programs he has in place and with the work he is doing with his kids, let’s hope he stays so he can complete his mission to help all of these kids have a chance to attend and graduate from college.