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UI officials did background search on recruit

[ 55 ] March 7, 2011 |

 University of Iowa officials conducted an extensive background search on 25-year old junior-college basketball recruit Anthony Hubbard before allowing him to take an official visit over the weekend, Hubbard’s junior-college coach said Monday.

According to HawkeyeInsider.com, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery reportedly has offered Hubbard a scholarship despite’s Hubbard’s criminal background that includes spending nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery.

“They did their background work, absolutely,” said Dave Miller, who coached Hubbard at Frederick Community College in Frederick, Md., this season. “We had paperwork here, and we sent the paperwork out to them.”

Hubbard’s robbery charge stems from an incident in Dec. 2003 in his hometown of Woodbridge, Va.

Hubbard, who was 18 at the time, also was charged with malicious wounding and use of a firearm, which are felonies, stemming from the same incident. But he ultimately pleaded guilty to the robbery charge and served 37 months in prison.

Hubbard now is a sophomore at Frederick Community College and has emerged as a Division I recruit.

He averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds this season, and the 6-foot-5, 220-pound combo guard has schools such as Iowa, Penn State and Iona pursuing him.

“To me, this is what I say to all the coaches; he made a mistake when he was 18 years old,” Miller said. “He’s now 25. Enough. He’s a great kid and let’s move on.”

Hubbard also was arrested for a misdemeanor assault in January, but the charge later was dropped.

“It was nothing,” Miller said without being specific.

Miller said Iowa’s relationship with Hubbard started in January when McCaffery called Miller at home asking about Hubbard.

McCaffery was not aware of Hubbard’s criminal record, but Miller said he was upfront and honest with McCaffery during their initial phone call.

Asked how McCaffery responded, Miller said:

“He said ‘Well, let me see.’ And he went and checked with some people and he made another call back and said ‘We’re going to proceed a little bit further.’

“And as we proceeded a little bit further he was always checking with other people.”

NCAA rules prohibit UI officials from talking about a specific unsigned recruit. However, UI Athletics Director Gary Barta said Monday that UI officials usually know about a recruit’s background before approving a campus visit.

“I would just say that it would be highly, highly unusual for someone to come to Iowa in any sport and us not know about their background,” Barta said. “Just think about a high school student athlete, if they get into trouble during their high school time, it’s very likely, especially in today’s world that it’s going to be in the newspaper. It’s going to be documented some way or another.

“So most of the time we know a student-athlete’s background and we know whether or not they’re going to fit at Iowa.”

Hubbard told HawkeyeInsider.com that Iowa offered him a scholarship about two weeks ago.

“When we make a final decision to offer a scholarship to a young person in any sport, we’ve spent months and in some cases years trying to evaluate if it’s going to be a good fit,” Barta said. “I can tell you by the time they decide to bring someone to campus, or we decide to bring them to campus, we know more about them than one can imagine. We don’t do official criminal background checks, but we do an extensive background search.”

Hubbard’s campus visit came on the heels of an investigative report by Sports Illustrated and CBS outlined police records of teams in the magazine’s top 25 poll to start the 2010 season.

Iowa was listed as second highest, tied with Arkansas, in terms of number of players with criminal records.

“The one thing that came up last week is would I be open to the possibility discussing nationally criminal background checks? And the answer is yes, I’d be open to it,” Barta said. “I don’t know if it will give us a lot more information. But I think we should be open to making sure that when we bring in a young person, we have to make sure to the best of our ability that they’re going to fit.

“It’s a significant investment financially. And it’s a significant investment emotionally to bring a young person to our campus and to our community.”

Hubbard visited Iowa over the weekend, along with high school point guard Cezar Guerrero, who is from Bellflower, Calif. They sat near each by the Iowa bench and watched the Hawkeyes upset No. 6 Purdue 67-65 on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“Some schools say, ‘no we can’t take him and I understand that,” Miller said. “I wouldn’t want anybody to take him that’s going to put a coach in jeopardy of losing his job because he recruited Anthony.

“But wherever Anthony goes, they’re not going to regret it. He’s a heck of a player and even a better person.”

Hubbard told HawkeyeInsider.com that he has nothing to hide with regard to his past.

“I’m being straight up with everybody about what I’ve been through,” he said. “I’m not hiding from anybody. It made me who I am today.”

Hubbard was denied admission to Frederick Community College before the 2009-10 school year because school officials were concerned about his background. He spent his freshman season at Odessa Junior College in Texas before being accepted at Frederick Community College for the 2010-11 school year.

“We didn’t take him the first time when he tried to come to Frederick Community College because we wanted to see what he would do at a school prior to coming here,” said Tom Jandovitz, who is the director of athletics at Frederick Community College. “Our administration was a little leery.

“And now everybody is like, ‘Wow, what a great young man’. There can’t be more wonderful comments on campus about him from the president down to the people that clean the gym.”

Barta said UI officials look at potential recruits on a case by case basis and make decisions based solely on the circumstances surrounding each case.

“Part of our mission is education and I would say every circumstance is unique,” Barta said. “You can’t say that we always give second chances and you can’t say that we never would.

“What I do is I take a look at each person case by case. I look at what’s occurred and I try to determine is this someone who wants to be at Iowa? Is this someone that deserves a chance to remain at Iowa?”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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