When Tommy Lloyd accepted the Arizona Wildcats head coaching job, nobody knew exactly what he was getting himself into.
Years have passed and UA is still waiting to hear what punishment it will receive from an NCAA investigation that accused the school of several Level I violations, which are considered the most severe and typically lead to a loss of scholarships, fines and/or a postseason ban.
But until Arizona knows for sure, it is in limbo—and it’s hindering Lloyd’s ability to rebuild the program.
“Recruiting has been a little bit hard,” he recently told The Athletic. “Let’s face it, I’m a first-year head coach, and the NCAA stuff hangs over your head. Hopefully soon the dust will settle and we’ll be able to move through it.”
Since Lloyd was hired on April 14, the Wildcats have landed four transfers—Oumar Ballo, Justin Kier, Pelle Larsson, and Kim Aiken Jr.—plus 2021 shooting guard Adama Bal and 2022 center Dylan Anderson.
Anderson is the No. 60 recruit in his class and Bal was outside the top 100 in his. Not quite the elite recruits the program used to land. At least from a ranking perspective.
The good news is that the NCAA recently announced changes to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process that are supposed to improve the transparency and swiftness of the investigation process. Still, it’s anyone’s guess when Arizona’s infractions case will actually be resolved. The IARP, which has only existed for a year, has yet to settle a single one of the several cases it is handling.
While the sanctions that may result from the NCAA investigation will set Arizona back, the uncertainty it’s currently facing might be even worse.
Recruits who may have normally had interest in Arizona may be turned off because they don’t want to be affected by a spontaneous postseason ban. Arizona players on last year’s team were open about how much of a gut punch it was to learn midway through the season that they were banned from the NCAA Tournament.
Meanwhile, Arizona’s coaches don’t know exactly how many scholarships they will have moving forward. That affects how many offers they can dish out. It’s a lot different recruiting for 13 scholarship spots than, say, 11.