I am not going to lie. I was very excited when I was told there was a “strong chance” Bacari Alexander would be the next coach at Detroit. I was tipped off weeks before he was hired; a perk of being an “insider.” When Alexander was announced it felt like Christmas morning as a small child, like a new era for UDM basketball wrapped with a bow.
After today, however, I most likely won’t be an “insider” anymore. Don’t expect to see me in my section next to my friends from the Detroit Titans Hoops message board, Moose, Sam, and UP. And don’t expect me on press row. Stats are all online now, and the games are on ESPN3. I have been to every home game dating back to the 2011-12 season. I won’t be there for the first game of 2016 unless someone has a great explanation of the tomfoolery going on at the corner of Livernois and 6 Mile.
Gone are Paris Bass and Jalen Gibson. This is most likely due to grades, as it has been no secret that each has had academic issues in the past. Bass also had a string of off the court issues, including an eight-game suspension, rumored to be from failing a drug test. Bass was also benched for violating team rules twice during the season. Anyone who follows Detroit saw these departures coming like a freight train in the night. But I don’t think anyone saw the next departure coming in the form it did.
Tuesday morning, Alexander made an interesting decision and one that has puzzled anyone who heard the news. Alexander called Carlton Brundidge and informed him he would not be welcome back next year, if he is granted a sixth year of eligibility. Brundidge was told the initial round of paperwork for a petition to be granted a sixth year went in back before the Horizon League tournament.
However, no one in athletic compliance has been frank with Brundidge on how that process has gone. In fact, it’s not clear if it has ever been sent in at all and if the NCAA is even aware he is going to attempt to gain a 6th year of eligibility.
Over the last 12 weeks, Brundidge has checked in with over five different officials, including athletic director Robert Vowels and assistant coach Jermaine Jackson on his petition. Brundidge was told the final paperwork and a decision would be submitted, and a decision would come pending his final grades and graduation.
As of 6:00 pm Tuesday evening, no one had told Brundidge if he was denied eligibility yet, just that he would not be spending it at UDM. However, it was reported in the Detroit Free Press earlier in the day that would not be happening. The reasoning, according to Brundidge for why he was not asked back, was his GPA, despite it being above a 2.5.
At his meet and greet, Coach Alexander commented on Brundidge coming back, but it did not seem as if he was hot or cold on the idea. Alexander did reach out to Brundidge and his father to talk about how he would fit into the plan for next year. If Alexander does not want Brundidge on the roster, it makes little sense, as he finished his career on a high note.
It’s understandable for Brundidge not to get a sixth year based on how much he played at Michigan. But he did spend some time in the hospital due to anxiety issue during his time with the Wolverines, which included a stay in the hospital for heart palpitations.
Michigan should have turned over the proper medical paperwork to prove that this anxiety was not a fabricated when Brundidge transferred, but it is unclear if this paperwork is in the hands of either school or if the NCAA has gotten a hold of it. A representative from the Brundidge family is working with Michigan to get things on that end straightened out.
Brundidge will not be mad if he is not granted a sixth year. He would just like a solid answer from someone about what is going on. It’s clear everyone in the Brundidge camp that something is not right. Why would Detroit lead him on like that to tell him in the end that they don’t want him? If Brundidge felt there was a strong possibility he would not be back he would have planned for it. Brundidge would have declared for the draft and went through the process. Now Brundidge is left in limbo wondering if a petition for a 6th year was submitted and if it was what the status is.
I have a few ideas into why all of a sudden Brundidge was put in a holding pattern
- The necessary paperwork never went in. This type of mistake would not be a first for UDM. But if that is the case, just admit the error. Don’t lie to cover it up.
- Alexander is setting a standard GPA of 3.0 players must keep, and Brundage’s 2.75 was not on par. This is OK, but why leave CB in limbo? Right now Detroit has just seven scholarship players for next season. By not having him back, what use is his scholarship for one season? There is zero impact on the 2017 recruiting class. If this is the case (and I hope it is not), Alexander is setting a standard that might make it hard for him to win. It is going to be very hard to find top talent that can hold an above 3.0 GPA in a school like UDM. If you go down the list of top players in Michigan, you will cross out half of them if a projected 3.0 College GPA is a requirement.
- Brundidge has been denied a 6th year, and Detroit is trying to coddle him. I seriously doubt the school would do this, but stranger things have happened.
- Brundidge is lying. I know him really well, and he is a man of his word. I find it highly unlikely that CB has lied to myself or anyone else during this process and would try to paint the university in any negative light, that’s not who he is. In fact, when I talked to him, he was not mad with UDM at all. He just was upset he was not given a solid answer as to if his career was over or not and what the next step is.
- Brundidge was lied to so he graduated, and he did not hurt the school’s APR. I don’t think it was ever his plan to tank and not graduate, but using a sixth year of eligibility to entice someone to do well sounds like a good idea. In the past few years, Detroit has had a problem with players graduating and keeping their grades up in the final semesters.
The one truth I know is that Brundidge was in some way wronged by UDM, whether intentional or unintentional. I don’t know who is to blame. I do know that Brundidge gave Detroit all he had when he was there, he tried is best in the classroom and even in dark times represented the university well.
It is said Jesuit universities are supposed to produce “men and women for others.” The idea behind this is that Jesuit-educated people serve others as Jesus did. Clearly, someone forgot this idea when they decided to leave Brundidge hanging.
A representative of Brundidge was not available to provide any more insight into the situation as of Wednesday evening.
Email Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Karic_Jones.
Photo via Dale Brundidge