Thursday, June 10, 2004
Deveroes loses its NCAA approval
Div. I players can't take part in league
By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
College basketball fans who have grown accustomed to seeing their favorite University of Cincinnati and Xavier University players up close at the Deveroes Summer League won't have that opportunity this year.
The Deveroes League, a fixture for Cincinnati's basketball junkies for the past 18 summers, has lost its NCAA certification, which means that current Division I college players will not be permitted to play in it, if in fact there's a league to play in.
Failure to submit the required paperwork in time cost the league its certification.
"NCAA events and leagues are required to submit the appropriate paperwork within three months from the last date of certification," said Erik Christianson, director of public and media relations for the NCAA.
"The league failed to submit the required paperwork in 2003 and therefore did not fulfill the requirements for certification. Due to that inadequacy, the league is not eligible for certification in 2004. It can reapply in 2005."
Dennis Bettis, the director and one of the founders of the league, said he still hopes to persuade the NCAA to certify it by making a personal appeal at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis today, but Christianson said Wednesday the decision is final.
Even without the current Division I players, Bettis said, the league will continue with former college players, incoming recruits who have not yet enrolled in their respective schools, and Divisions II and III players.
He said he planned to turn over the directorship to Woodward High School coach Lannis Timmons.
"We're still going to have a league regardless," Bettis said.
But Mike Price, the boys' basketball coach at Oak Hills High School, which has hosted the league for the past three years, said he was operating under the premise that there will be no summer league this year.
The league was scheduled to begin June 20 and was to be split between Oak Hills and Woodward High School. Summer leagues are not permitted to charge admission, but many fans make a voluntary donation at the door.
"As far as I know, they're not going to have it," Price said. "I don't see any reason to have it. They certainly aren't going to get people to pay to see that. Most of the crowds come for the XU and UC guys.
"I don't think they'll pay to see the former players play, or even the incoming guys. I don't think there would be enough (fans) to make it worth our time or money to be involved."
Said Bettis: "All we can do is talk to Mike. If Mike thinks that's the case, we'll have it at Woodward. We're going to have the league in any case. The guys in the league are still interested in playing. It's not about the fans. It's about the players themselves. We started the league for players to be competitive with one another."
The league has hosted NBA players such as Nick Van Exel, Corie Blount, Ron Harper and James Posey. College players from UC, XU, Dayton, Wright State, Miami, NKU and other schools have played in it.
Walt McBride, a former XU player, has played in the league every year since its inception. Now the head basketball coach at Summit Country Day, the 39-year-old McBride said he has been working out to get ready for the competition.
If the league continues without current Division I players, he said he probably will play in it.
"This actually was going to be my final year," McBride said.
Melvin Levett, who first played in the league in 1996, said he would still play in the league even without the current Division I players.
"You lose a lot as far as talent and exposure," Levett said. "But there would still be talent there. I think fans would come out to watch. They'd be kind of upset because they're not watching the guys in school now, but with the older guys you'll see more of a serious competition. The older guys will be more eager."
The Deveroes Summer League has been where fans go to get their first glimpse of the incoming players for XU and UC. It was in the summer of 1993 when the league really took off in popularity as fans showed up to see UC's heralded recruiting class, led by Dontonio Wingfield and Damon Flint.
The league isn't known for its defense but has provided players an opportunity to display their offensive skills in a relaxed setting, much to the delight of the fans who get to see them without the shackles that come with set plays and coaches' defensive expectations.
"That's when you can actually see the talent that a lot of players had when they weren't in a structured system," McBride said.
"People were able to see us or see players that they couldn't afford to get tickets for during the season or didn't have the time to go see them."
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