Commentary | It's time for SCF to give hoops head coach Brock Erickson a full-time paycheck

adell@bradenton.comFebruary 27, 2013 

BRADENTON

Brock Erickson did more than what he was brought here to do. Now it's time for State College of Florida to do more than what it promised.

If not, what transpired Monday night at Hal Chasey Gymnasium will be nothing more than a fleeting memory.

The 900-plus-seat facility was close to capacity. It rang with excitement. If you closed your eyes for a moment, you could believe you were at some ACC facility and Dick Vitale was doing the game.

The Manatees won, and the SCF basketball team earned a berth in next week's state tournament, which determines the Region VIII champion and a spot in the national tournament.

Erickson is the man of the hour and deserves a grownup salary.

SCF is paying him a stipend of $10,500. School officials got a free ride out of him this year. It won't last. There are going to be many colleges seeking his services.

SCF got a lot more than it had a right to expect.

SCF basketball excited the community and brought vigor to the campus. The onus is on SCF President Dr. Carol Probstfeld and her staff to give their coach a real salary.

They owe it to the community to hire Erickson as a full-time staff member. If they don't and the program slides downhill again, it's on them. They will have lost all credibility with the sporting community here, no matter what they say.

Erickson didn't just win. He did it in style with a frenzy that hasn't been seen around these parts since Harry Kinnan was running the show and Hal Chasey was the place to be on game night.

SCF didn't just win 24 of 31 games. The Manatees were the nation's number one junior college scor

ing team, putting up 98.3 points per game. They were first in assists (23.8 per game), eighth in steals, third in field-goal percentage and sixth in 3-point field-goal percentage.

Their lineup has flair, filled with a lot of Oscar-type performers that Erickson brought in.

Diminutive guard Michael Sanchez reminds you of an Allen Iverson who plays defense. No one can pronounce Obinna Oleka's name correctly, which is appropriate because the 6-foot-7 freshman plays as if he were born on another planet and is not restricted by the laws of gravity.

Isaiah Williams is a smooth 6-7 guard who can drain buckets from way behind the arc and fly above the rim for acrobatic crowd pleasing dunks.

The 37-year-old Erickson delivered on his promise to turn around the program. It was 7-19 last year and 129-211 since 2000. He gave up a $50,000 job to take on the challenge.

There have been mistakes. The Manatees had to forfeit 18 games because the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) said Anders Haas played for a pro team in his native Denmark.

Haas said he was never paid by the Horsholm 79ers.

This can be construed inaccurately. European basketball cannot be compared to college basketball in the United States. It is common for amateurs to play with professionals on European club teams because college competition is nearly nonexistent.

The NCAA recognized the situation. In 2010, it passed a bylaw that a high school or youth academy player who has not enrolled in a college/university may compete on a pro team without jeopardizing his/her NCAA eligibility provided he/she is not paid to do so.

NJCAA bylaws are different. They deem ineligible an athlete who competes on any professional athletics team or on a team where any member of the team is considered professional, even if no pay or remuneration for expenses was received.

Nearly all of the top athletic teams in Europe are club teams, and amateurs often play with professionals. Many of the amateur players have no idea if there are any pros on their team and don't know who on their team is getting paid, if any.

It's a shame. But Erickson should get paid. He deserves it, and so does the community.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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