Oklahoma coach deals with `challenging’ offseason
Jeff Capel still isn’t talking about an ongoing NCAA
investigation into his basketball program at Oklahoma.
What the coach will say is that he can see brighter days ahead
for the Sooners.
Capel’s program was nearing the end of an NCAA-imposed probation
for violations that occurred under predecessor Kelvin Sampson when
the new allegations popped up at the end of the Sooners’ first
losing season in nearly three decades.
Since then, five underclassmen and two assistant coaches have
left, and Capel has signed nine recruits to replenish his roster.
Just recently, he began interviewing candidates for the two
openings on his staff.
“It’s been challenging. Obviously a lot of things going on,”
Capel said Tuesday before a fan event. “But I’m really excited
about how our guys have worked – our returning guys – and I’m
excited about the new guys we have coming in. I mentioned … just
cleansing our program. I feel like we’ve done that. I really like
the direction in which we’re going.”
Capel said he couldn’t comment on the ongoing investigation or
how long it will take.
Last week, the university revealed that it was sharing with NCAA
investigators the phone records of former assistant coach Oronde
Taliaferro, who resigned in April. The phone logs, released by the
school after an open records request, show Taliaferro exchanged
more than 75 calls and text messages with numbers associated with
Jeffrey Hausinger of Tampa, Fla., and his former employer, Merrill
Hausinger was accused of wiring $3,000 to former Oklahoma
forward Keith “Tiny” Gallon in a TMZ.com report that sparked the
investigation. Gallon and fellow underclassmen Willie Warren and
Tommy Mason-Griffin decided to enter the NBA draft following the
Sooners’ 13-18 season.
Hausinger, who has denied the allegation in a filing with the
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, did not return a call from
The Associated Press on Tuesday.
With the investigation continuing, Capel has made recruiting a
priority. With the departure of Taliaferro and assistant Mark
Cline, Capel mobilized director of basketball operations Bryan
Goodman to get an extra person on the recruiting trail.
The Sooners brought in seven new players in a span of less than
five weeks, adding to what had been a two-man recruiting class.
Capel said he still has one scholarship remaining.
“We wouldn’t just take guys just to take bodies,” Capel said.
“We signed guys we thought that could and will contribute to our
basketball team. We feel very fortunate that we were able to get
Capel said the upcoming months will be critical to his team’s
success, especially after a “very bad summer” a year ago. At that
time, the Sooners were coming off an appearance in the NCAA
tournament’s regional finals and the selection of Blake Griffin as
the NBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick.
“I’m excited to see what this team can become. I don’t know
what my expectations are,” Capel said. “We’ve been through a lot
here in the past few months, really this whole year, so it’s been
difficult for me to think about it.”
Capel said he has received “a lot of interest” in both open
coaching positions but he hasn’t been in a hurry to hire anyone
because the next recruiting period isn’t until July. Taliaferro was
his most recent hire, replacing veteran coach Rod Barnes after he
was hired as Georgia State’s head coach in 2007.
“Experience doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to me,” Capel
said. “Look at me. Look at my plight. I just want people that are