TAMPA — At the same time that USF sophomore Gus Gilchrist is emerging as a star on the court, his former trainer and close friend, Terrelle Woody, has the Bulls basketball program facing scrutiny for potential NCAA violations.
USF was 3-0 going into Friday night's game against South Carolina, and the 6-foot-10, 245-pound Gilchrist led the Bulls in both scoring (20.7 points per game) and rebounding (8.3.). However, the biggest headlines around the program haven't been about the team's success but from a Fanhouse.com report alleging Woody had committed several NCAA infractions.
His presence on coach Stan Heath's staff as a video and conditioning assistant — the job pays $30,000 a year — has been a hot-button issue since before he was hired. While Heath has been adamant that Woody wasn't promised a position on his staff as incentive to have Gilchrist, 20, chose USF after transferring from Maryland, the appearance of "package deals" has led the NCAA to propose legislation to prohibit such moves in the future.
Under the new proposal, a college could not employ any individual associated with a recruit in the two-year period before or after the enrollment of that recruit. Woody's hiring by Heath was acceptable under NCAA guidelines, but Woody's actions since joining the program might be a different story.
Fanhouse.com's report alleges that Woody provided improper benefits to Gilchrist by regularly driving him around Tampa and on a trip home to Maryland and twice to Orlando Magic games. The report also alleges that Woody attended open-gym workouts with USF players and was engaged in coaching activities in violation of NCAA rules.
NCAA by-laws state that noncoaches are not to watch athletes in their sport in informal settings such as an open-gym workout.
As for travel, the NCAA only allows for "reasonable local transportation," though Woody's previous relationship with Gilchrist going back three years before his arrival at USF could give him an exception to that violation.
The two have been close friends for about four years, though Woody is twice Gilchrist's age. They have known each other since the summer after Gilchrist's junior year at Friendly High in Fort Washington, Md. Gilchrist transferred to Progressive Christian Academy, a first-year prep school, and Woody joined the coaching staff at Progressive. The two are close enough that Gilchrist was Woody's best man at his wedding in spring 2008.
Heath has not addressed the Fanhouse allegations while in South Carolina with the Bulls, who play in the Charleston Classic tournament until Sunday. USF's athletic administration has declined comment other than to issue a brief statement, saying officials will review the issues and will address them if they "discover any issues that warrant action."
In the 2½ years since Heath was hired at USF, the school has self-reported four secondary NCAA violations in men's basketball, none resulting in any significant penalties.
The new accusations against Woody, much like the previous violations, seem largely secondary, though NCAA by-laws warn that a large number of secondary violations can be treated as a major violation.
"The question to ask is 'Does it represent a pattern of behavior?' " NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said Friday, speaking generally and not specifically about USF's potential violations. "You have to determine if all of these (violations) together represent a bigger problem in monitoring and compliance."
Woody's benefit to USF hasn't been limited to Gilchrist. Point guard Justin Leemow, who joined the Bulls late in the summer of 2008 and is now the first guard off USF's bench, also trained with Woody in high school, as did Waverly Austin, a 6-foot-10 center from Virginia who signed with USF this month and will join the team in 2010.