When Tom Izzo learned that his former high school, Iron Mountain, had earned a trip to the Michigan state high school basketball semifinals — held at the Breslin Center on Michigan State’s campus — in March, the Spartans coach didn’t think twice about showing the players around.
Izzo took the team through a tour of the arena and the team’s locker room the day before its semifinal game, and even let the players watch a Michigan State practice. All things considered, it was a great gesture by perhaps the most notable alumni to come out of the Upper Peninsula high school.
His actions, however, resulted in an NCAA violation, according to MLive.com.
Michigan State self-reported the rules violation two days after the tour, when the Spartans were at the Big Ten tournament in Chicago and Izzo had spoken about it with reporters.
“It felt like we were in ‘Hoosiers,’” Izzo said in March, via MLive.com. “‘Should I measure the rim? Should I tell them what it’s like?’”
High school players can tour facilities and meet with coaches, however not if they have a game at that facility — which is what sparked the rules violation, according to MLive.com. The violation, per the report, noted that Izzo was unaware of the rule and the compliance department was unaware of the tour ahead of time — otherwise it would have filed for a waiver to make the tour legal. Michigan State, per the report, is not recruiting any players from Iron Mountain.
Izzo nearly fell victim to a second violation the next day, too, when taking Iron Mountain players and coaches out to dinner. He planned to pick up the check, which could have been perceived as providing the players benefits, though the Michigan State compliance director called him an hour before dinner to stop him.
“Of all the things going on, I think paying for your hometown meal would be really big on the Richter scale,” Izzo said sarcastically the next day when asked about it, via MLive.com.
Michigan State declined to comment to MLive.com about the violations, and did not self-impose any penalties as a result. Iron Mountain fell in the Division 3 state championship game to Pewamo-Westphalia 53-52.
Izzo is preparing to enter his 25th season at Michigan State, and has compiled an impressive 606-232 record since he took over the program in 1995. He has missed the NCAA tournament just twice, and reached the Final Four eight different times.
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