Skip to content

Billy Kennedy’s condition has to be a factor in the decision for every Texas A&M recruit

Sep 18, 2013, 4:53 PM EDT

20130918-165258.jpg

Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy has Parkinson’s.

This has been public knowledge for almost two years now. I know this, you know this, the kids that Kennedy is recruiting know this and you damn well better believe that the coaches he is recruiting against know this.

Coaching at the collegiate level is a demanding, volatile industry, one that could result in a promotion that triples your salary just as quickly as it can leave you out of a job. The most important part of the job, especially at the highest level of the sport, is recruiting, so it should come as no surprise that coaches competing for a recruit can get cutthroat.

As Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com wrote yesterday, Texas A&M’s newest commit, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Texas named Alex Robinson, had to listen to coaches that were recruiting him use Kennedy’s diagnosis as a recruiting tool.

“They actually did [use Kennedy’s Parkinson’s diagnosis against Texas A&M],” Robinson told Parrish. “But I just kinda brushed it off like, ‘Hey, that’s part of recruiting. [The other coaches are just] trying to get me to their school.'”

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s is a life-changing event, quite literally. Kennedy has no control over his disease. There is no known cure and there is no known cause. Kennedy got dealt a crappy hand, and now he has to live the rest of his life knowing that he has a degenerative neurological disease that is only going to get worse. Making matters worse is that there is no time frame at play. In a worst case scenario, Kennedy could lose his ability to walk by the time Robinson graduates. Some Parkinson’s patients are bedridden within 10 years. But on the flip-side, Michael J. Fox was diagnosed 22 years ago and is starring in a sitcom right now.

That’s a heavy dose of perspective to dump on a guy that has a wife, four kids, and a high-profile job.

As you can imagine, Kennedy is none-too-pleased when he hears about opposing coaches using his disease against him on the recruiting trail.

“It angers me when people tell recruits I may not coach much longer because it’s coming from people who don’t really know me,” Kennedy told Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports. “I’m in the best health I’ve ever been in my whole life. I don’t really have any symptoms right now to be honest with you. Nobody would even know my situation if they saw me.”

“I learned a long time ago all is fair in love, war and recruiting, so I’m not surprised people would bring up something about my health. There are some insecure assistants in high-profile programs that do whatever they have to do to get a player. But that’s not the norm. I don’t think most people are that way.”

Parrish called the negative recruiting “deplorable”. Eisenberg called it “shameful”. Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com called it “disgusting”. Frank Martin, South Carolina’s head coach, simply said it was “sad” and ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted “no honor amongst thieves”.

And for the most part, they’re right.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Kennedy’s diagnosis has to be something that every recruit and their family take into account.

The bottom line is that Alex Robinson and Tony Trocha and any other recruit that decides to play his college basketball for Texas A&M is doing so because they believe that Kennedy will help them grow as a basketball player and as a person while winning games and going to NCAA tournaments in the process. And while all of us — myself included — want to see Kennedy remain healthy for a long, long time, there’s a chance that doesn’t happen. It’s a risk that player is taking, one that he should be talking over with his family and his coaches.

It should factor into his decision.

And if an opposing coach wants to make a kid he is recruiting aware of Kennedy’s disease, I don’t see a problem with that. Telling the recruit to make sure he does his homework on prognosis for Parkinson’s patients and to have that conversation with Kennedy is OK, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works.

Recruits are being told that Kennedy’s career will be over soon, that he may never coach them in college. Some are even telling kids that they could catch Parkinson’s from Kennedy, which is most assuredly not true.

That is unacceptable.

Honest and open conversation about Kennedy’s health is a good thing, regardless of where it is coming from. Slander and lying about the severity of his condition is the kind of negative recruiting that gives everyone in the business a bad name.

Latest Posts
  1. Malik Monk’s highlights from Nike Global Challenge (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT

    (USA Baketball) (USA Baketball)

    Malik Monk is rated No. 6 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.

  2. Iowa State adds three-star power forward Solomon Young

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:44 PM EDT

    Nike Nike

    It’s the second commit in as many nights for the Cyclones.

  3. Siena applies for waiver on behalf of Javion Ogunyemi

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Jimmy Patsos AP

    Javion Ogunyemi averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 2014-15.

  4. Syracuse, Georgetown to officially renew rivalry on December 5

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The two teams last met in the 2013 Big East Tournament

  5. Indiana dismisses Emmitt Holt

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Indiana dismissed the forward after his second alcohol-related incident.

  6. Bill Self remains “confident” Cheick Diallo will be eligible this season

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Cheick Diallo is still waiting to hear from the NCAA Eligibility Center.

  7. Five-star 2016 guard Frank Jackson set to announce his decision

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    Frank Jackson will make his college decision on Tuesday.

  8. New mixtape of five-star 2016 guard Rawle Alkins (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp 2015 - Day One Getty Images

    Rawle Alkins is one of the best players to come out of New York in years.

  9. Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan makes another statement wavering on potential retirement

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    boryan Getty Images

    Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan seems to be taking things slowly when it comes to deciding his future.

  10. Five-star 2016 big man Marques Bolden is down to seven schools

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    Texas native Marques Bolden is focusing on seven schools.

  11. Rick Pitino blogs about his summer with Louisville and the Puerto Rican national team

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Rick Pitino gives some candid thoughts on Louisville and Puerto Rico.

  12. Iowa State lands Iowa Western CC point guard Donovan Jackson

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:52 PM EDT

    Steve Prohm AP

    With Monte’ Morris being a junior and Nick Noskowiak leaving the program, Iowa State needed a point guard in the 2016 class.

  13. Michigan State caps Italy trip with one-point loss to Georgian national team (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:41 PM EDT

    Lourawls Nairn Jr. AP

    These games against seasoned competition will help Michigan State in the tough Big Ten this season.

  14. Syracuse guard Michael Gbinije helps Nigeria clinch Olympic berth

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:27 PM EDT

    Michael Gbinije AP

    Gbinije averaged 7.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game at Afrobasket.

  15. Avoiding summer fatigue key for Illinois junior Malcolm Hill

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT

    Malcolm Hill AP

    Hill led the team in minutes played last season, and it’s been tough to keep him out of the gym this summer despite attempts to get him to spend some time resting.

  16. Stanford getting great production from Reid Travis on overseas trip

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Reid Travis is looking like a potential go-to scorer for the Cardinal this season after some strong outings in Europe.

  17. Colorado State finds difficulty scheduling good non-conference games

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:50 AM EDT

    Larry Eustachy AP

    Colorado State is having a rough go of getting great programs to play in their building.

  18. POSTERIZED: Northwestern’s Scottie Lindsey dunks on a defender on team’s foreign trip (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Purdue Northwestern Basketball AP

    Scottie Lindsey put one on a defender during Northwestern’s trip to Spain.

  19. Assistant coach Dwayne ‘Tiny’ Morton leaves Seton Hall staff

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Seton Hall Athletics Seton Hall Athletics

    According to the New York Post, Morton will go back to teaching full-time.