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Our Take on NCAA Issues

Seton Hall basketball: An expert’s advice on handling Isaiah Whitehead mess

Every now and then, you hear the phrase from an old-timer who still associates Seton Hall basketball with a 1961 point-shaving scandal.

“Cheatin’ Hall.”

That disgrace scarred the athletic department’s reputation for a generation.

Friday’s revelation by Yahoo Sports, that an unscrupulous agent listed former Pirate star Isaiah Whitehead on his payroll before the guard turned pro, is a far cry from throwing games. But it could leave a nasty stain. Exactly how nasty depends, in part, on how the university proceeds from here.

Bob Zito knows the deal. The seasoned public relations executive is managing partner of the Warren-based firm IPZ, which provides “strategic and tactical solutions” for professional athletes, media talent and entertainers. Among his past credentials: helping to build the New York Stock Exchange’s brand.

Gannett New Jersey asked Zito how he would advise Seton Hall, Whitehead and the NCAA as the FBI’s investigation into recruiting practices continues to rock college basketball.

“One of the big things in any situation like this — whether you’re a college, a basketball team or a Fortune 500 company — transparency is so important,” Zito said. “There are hundreds of (reporters) out there who will find someone to talk to them. You have to be transparent so no one can shoot at it. You can’t hide anything anymore.”

Seton Hall issued the following statement Friday afternoon: “We are aware of the Yahoo! Sports report. We have taken steps proactively to reach out to the NCAA and the BIG EAST Conference, and while we have not been contacted by investigators, we will be conducting our own internal review.”

Zito praised the statement as a good start. Fact-gathering always should be the first step.

“What Seton Hall has done so far is the exact right thing,” he said. “No. 1, you have to do your own internal review. That internal review has to be done by someone who is independent, but someone who knows what’s going on (in the sport).”

By independent, Zito means an investigator “who is not affiliated with the university,” he said. “That would be smart for Seton Hall.”

Speaking generally about someone in Whitehead’s position, Zito recommends telling the truth about agent relationships and letting the public assess a broken system.

“It’s, ‘Here’s what I did when I was 15, 16 years old, because that probably is the age when it starts,’” he said. “But he’s probably going to have to throw someone under the bus to do that, because my guess is it probably wasn’t his idea.”

So, expose whose idea it was.

“Young basketball players, people realize these kids are going to make money and latch onto them, give them bad counsel and steer them one way or another, and it’s just an ugly thing,” he said.

As for the NCAA, Zito recommends admitting failure as a starting point.

“Anybody involved in college basketball, quietly you know this stuff is going on, how it works,” he said. “The NCAA has turned a deaf ear to it.”

Each of his suggestions has a common thread: Transparency. That’s the first step toward earning public trust. As Seton Hall learned decades ago, that trust can be hard to regain.

FOUR NAGGING QUESTIONS

Here are four questions hanging over the program as the FBI investigation and Seton Hall’s internal probe unfold.

1. Did anyone employed by Seton Hall play a part in arranging for Whitehead to receive money from the agency ASM Sports?

2. Is there documentation that Hall head coach Kevin Willard knew about Whitehead’s ties to ASM while he was a student?

3. Did former assistant coach Tiny Morton’s reported $9,500 loan from ASM take place during his one season on the Pirates’ staff (2014-15)?

4. What impact, if any, does this have on the morale and focus of the current Hall team as it pursues a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, especially given the seniors’ continued friendship with Whitehead?

View the story online.

Tyrell Nelson Claims Georgian Superleague Weekly Honors

American Tyrell Nelson (201-F, agency: Interperformances & IPZ) had a great game in the last round for the league’s second-best Rustavi and received an Interperformances Player of the Week award for round 19.

The forward had a double-double of 27 points and 14 rebounds, while his team edged out DELTA (#8, 4-13) 101-99. Rustavi is in 2nd place in the Georgian Superleague. Rustavi will need more victories to improve their 12-5 record. In the team’s last game Nelson shot a remarkable 75.0% from 2-point range. He turned out to be Rustavi’s top player in his first season with the team. Gardner-Webb University graduate has very impressive stats this year. Nelson is in league’s top in points (4th best: 18.6ppg), rebounds (5th best: 8.8rpg) and averages solid 61.7% FGP.

View more online: http://www.eurobasket.com/Georgia/basketball.asp?NewsID=522363&showcomments=1&Women=0#c

IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley in the New York Times

The School Closed. The Players Left. But the Coach Can’t Quit.

It was 3:50 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon when the gray-haired coach parked his silver Toyota Camry and strode purposefully toward the gym.

Bob Hurley, 70, wasn’t heading into his gym and he wasn’t getting set to coach his players — he no longer has either — but he needed a basketball fix just the same.

So wearing gray sweatpants, gray sneakers and a blue pullover, and armed with the black notepad he takes with him nearly every time he sets foot in a gym, Hurley entered Linden High School and took a seat in the first row of bleachers.

Since the closure of St. Anthony High School in Jersey City last spring, Hurley, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame who has won more than two dozen state titles, has become a coach without a team. He has found homes for the old trophies and scrapbooks, and even for his former players at new schools, but it will take more than a few months for him to adjust to basketball as a consumer experience, not an occupation, for the first time since 1972.

“This is weird,” Hurley told Linden’s coach, Phil Colicchio, when the latter came over to exchange pleasantries before the November practice. “Usually I’d be doing this stuff. But I’m stealing from you and I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.”

Of course, Hurley could have just found another team. When the news broke that St. Anthony was closing, he fielded calls from a high school in California and another in New Jersey asking if he would be interested in coaching this winter. Walking away from basketball was never an option, but leaving Jersey City, or taking over another team after decades at St. Anthony, just didn’t feel right, either. So Hurley has become a spectator instead.

By the time he settled into his seat at Linden High School, Hurley had already attended nine college games in four states this season. He had watched his son, Bobby, coach Arizona State on television and had seen his younger son, Dan, lead Rhode Island in person at least four times. He had attended more than half a dozen college practices and spoken at nearly as many clinics.

“It’s sad,” Dan Hurley said. “It’s the first time in 50 years where he’s not leading a group of young men.”

The transition has been easier for Hurley, in some ways, because his legacy lives on through the St. Anthony diaspora. Nearly 20 former St. Anthony players are on college rosters this season, and several dozen more have scattered to other New Jersey high schools through what Hurley jokingly refers to as the “dispersal draft.” Then there are the coaches and the assistant coaches, the old rivals and the old friends.

“I coach basketball,” Colicchio said. “He loves basketball. It’s two different things. And not too many people love basketball the way that he does.”

Hurley, who won nearly 1,200 games and 28 state championships at St. Anthony, drove the 15 miles to Linden not only to see Colicchio, but also to watch the progress of a former St. Anthony junior varsity player. Point guard Myles Ruth is expected to start for the Linden varsity this winter.

As much as Hurley tries, sometimes it is hard for him to keep a low profile. Before the Linden workout began, all 16 players, including Ruth, made their way to Hurley, forming a line to shake his hand. Once they began playing, Hurley lost himself in the action, occasionally scribbling in his notebook.

After one player took 11 dribbles and ended up right where he started, Colicchio, who shares Hurley’s dry sense of humor, reprimanded him loud enough for the whole gym to hear. “You took 11 dribbles,” he shouted. “You took 11 dribbles and you went from here to here!” Everyone, including Hurley, laughed along.

Hurley does seem to be enjoying himself in his retirement. He takes two of his grandchildren to school every day. He is fascinated by the television shows “Mountain Men” and “Homestead Rescue,” and he and his wife, Chris, are regulars at their favorite Jersey City restaurant.

He is still coaching, too. After St. Anthony closed, Hurley set up a nonprofit organization, the Hurley Family Foundation, and through that program he spends a few hours a week working with elementary school and high school players. But he still seeks out more basketball.

One day in October, he attended a practice at Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck, N.J., to check in on another former St. Anthony player, Kaleb Bishop, who is a sophomore forward for the Knights.

“The first thing he did when he walked in was he sat down and started taking notes,” said F.D.U. Coach Greg Herenda, who has known Hurley since attending his summer basketball camp in 1977. “I came full circle in my life in that I was conducting a practice and Coach Hurley was taking notes.”

Hurley has made a career habit of taking those notes, recording them in a black notebook that says, “Bob Hurley — St. Anthony Friars,” on the cover. He has years of these observations stored in plastic folders in his closet.

“There isn’t only one way to play,” he said, “so that’s why I think when you go from one place to another, you always should have pen and paper. You pick up something: It might be a phrase. You pick up a drill. There’s always something.”

In November, Hurley’s journey took him to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he watched two of his former players help defeat another who is now an assistant coach at Wagner, where Dan Hurley coached for two seasons. On the weekend before Thanksgiving, Bob and Chris took in three games in a tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut — two on a Saturday and one on a Sunday. (That is the maximum number of games, Hurley joked, that Chris will allow in one weekend.)

And at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, when most people were home with their families, Bob and Chris and their grandchildren Anna and Gabe headed to Brooklyn to see Dan coach Rhode Island against Seton Hall in a tournament at Barclays Center. The next night, around the same time Bobby was coaching Arizona State past No. 15 Xavier in Las Vegas, the elder Bob Hurley was back at Barclays Center, seven rows up, for Rhode Island-Virginia.

“I think it’s probably the hardest time of the year for my father and mother and former students,” Dan Hurley said. “I don’t want to just make it strictly a basketball thing. It was a community of young people that are suffering that a school that they loved and were nurtured and developed in is no longer there.”

Bob Hurley knows where he will be on Friday, when the New Jersey high school regular-season begins: at the Dickinson-Ferris game in Jersey City. On Dec. 30, he and Chris will head back to Rhode Island to watch Dan and Rhode Island face George Mason. The next day, he’ll continue on to Merrimack College in Massachusetts; three of his former pupils — Juvaris Hayes, Idris Joyner and Jaleel Lord — play for the Warriors.

After that there will be dozens more high school teams and dozens more high school players to check in on. Roselle Catholic. Mater Dei. The Ranney School. And more college trips, too.

“To this point, do I miss it?” Hurley said. “No, it just began.”

View online here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/sports/bob-hurley-st-anthony.html

RANDY REED JOINS CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM

IPZ Athlete to Play for Al Ittihad

WARREN, NJ, November 20, 2017 – Randy Reed has signed a professional contract with Al Ittihad Club (Saudi Arabia – SBL) for the 2017-2018 season.

The 6-foot-6 swingman played for JS El Menzah (Tunisia – Ligue 1) as a rookie last season. Reed was selected to play against the Tunisian National Team in his league’s All-Star game. During the 2016-2017 season, Reed compiled a handful of 30+ point performances and recorded a career-high 34 points in one contest.

Reed joins Al Ittihad who is Saudi Arabia’s back-to-back defending champion in its highest tier league.

“I am very excited to play for the prestigious Al Ittihad,” said Reed. “This is a great opportunity for me and my family, and I plan to make the most of it. Thank you to IPZ for guiding me during the off-season. Thank you to my family for the continued faith and motivation. Glory to God!”

“We couldn’t be happier for Randy,” said Shawn Farmer, IPZ’s managing director of basketball. “He’s a hard-worker, intelligent, all-around great person and player, we can’t say enough about him. Randy will be a major asset to a club that is known for its success.”

About IPZ: IPZ is a family-focused management, representation, and consulting firm, built on the integrity of its professionals, and developing whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com. 

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

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Media Contact:

Kyrsten Van Natta
(862) 205-9841
kyrsten@ipzusa.com

KELILA ATKINSON KICKING OFF PRO CAREER

IPZ Athlete Signs Her First Professional Deal

WARREN, NJ, November 7, 2017 – Kelila “KayKay” Atkinson has signed a professional contract with the UL Huskies Basketball Club (Women’s Division 1 – Ireland) for the 2017-2018 season.

“This is a very exciting moment for me as a prospect with IPZ,” said Atkinson. “I want to thank all who believed in me and are able to see my potential. I am very grateful and look forward to contributing to the team as well as gaining international play experience.”

The 5-foot-10 Wake Forest Demon Deacon finished out her collegiate career scoring 15 points, bringing down six rebounds, and recording two blocks against Louisville on senior night earlier this year.

“We are thrilled for KayKay and her opportunity to be a game-changer for the Huskies,” said Shawn Farmer, managing director of basketball. “Ireland is a great place for her to kick off her professional career.”

About IPZ: InterperformancesUSA (IPZ) is a family-focused management, representation, and consulting firm, built on the integrity of its professionals, and developing whole life solutions for its clients. The firm is an alliance with Zito Partners. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com. 

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

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Media Contact:

Kyrsten Van Natta
(862) 205-9841
kyrsten@ipzusa.com

Tyrell Nelson Named Player of the Week

IPZ athlete Tyrell Nelson was honored as the Georgian Superleague’s Player of the Week in the league’s opening week. Nelson poured in 24 points and pulled down 9 rebounds leading his team, BC Rustavi, to victory in its first game of the season on October 14.

View the full story online: http://www.eurobasket.com/Georgia/news/510176/Tyrell-Nelson-claims-Georgian-Superleague-weekly-honour

FEYONDA FITZGERALD CHOOSES IPZ

WNBA Draft Pick Signs with IPZ

WARREN, NJ, October 9, 2017 – Feyonda Fitzgerald, a 2017 WNBA draft pick and leading scorer for a top team in Poland, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

The 5-foot-7 point guard played collegiately for Temple University from 2013 to 2017. Fitzgerald made an immediate impact for the Owls as she started all 30 games as a freshman and was Temple’s top scorer averaging 12.9 points per contest. She was a unanimous All-Freshman Team selection and was named to American’s All-Conference Second Team.

As a sophomore, Fitzgerald appeared in all 37 contests and put up 11.1 points per game. The following season, she became an All-Conference Second Team selection once more after averaging 13.6 points, 5.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per contest.

In her senior year, Fitzgerald became the Owls’ single-season assist record holder dishing out 232 dimes, and she took ownership of the school’s all-time assist record with 635. Fitzgerald averaged 17.3 points, 7.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game, while knocking down 82.7 percent of her free throw attempts and was named to American’s All-Conference First Team. This high-caliber season catapulted Temple to a 24-8 record as well as the Owls’ first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011. Fitzgerald also earned All-American honors and became the first Owl to do so since 2007.

Fitzgerald was selected in the second round of the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever. After stints with the Fever and the Connecticut Sun (WNBA) during training camp, the All-American point guard went on to compete overseas. Fitzgerald currently plays for AZS UMCS Lublin (Basket Liga Kobiet – the highest-tier league in Poland) and is averaging 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists per contest through three games.

“Feyonda is a fierce competitor and a proven winner,” said IPZ’s Managing Director of Basketball Shawn Farmer. “She was a star for Temple and there’s no doubt in my mind that she will continue to have the same success – if not more – in her professional career.”

About IPZ: InterperformancesUSA (IPZ) is a family-focused management, representation, and consulting firm, built on the integrity of its professionals, and developing whole life solutions for its clients. The firm is an alliance with Zito Partners. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com. 

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

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Media Contact:

Kyrsten Van Natta
(862) 205-9841
kyrsten@ipzusa.com

TYRELL NELSON TO PLAY IN GEORGIA’S TOP LEAGUE

IPZ Athlete Signs with BC Rustavi

 WARREN, NJ, September 7, 2017 – Tyrell Nelson has signed a professional contract with BC Rustavi (Georgia-Superleague – the highest tier league in Georgia) for the 2017-2018 season.

“I’m excited to get my career started with Rustavi,” said Nelson. “I believe this team is where I need to be and I can’t wait to get there and help in any way I can.”

Nelson – an All-Big South Honoree – averaged 12.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in his senior year with Gardner-Webb.

“Tyrell was a beast in college and I don’t see why he won’t continue to be for Rustavi,” said IPZ’s Managing Director of Basketball Shawn Farmer. “We are eager to see what Tyrell will accomplish in Georgia’s top league.”

About IPZ: IPZ is a family-focused management, representation, and consulting firm, built on the integrity of its professionals, and developing whole life solutions for its clients. The firm is an alliance with Zito Partners. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com. 

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

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Media Contact:

Kyrsten Van Natta
(862) 205-9841
kyrsten@ipzusa.com

RUTH SHERRILL PLAYING PROFESSIONALLY IN IRELAND

IPZ Athlete Begins Her First Season as a Pro

WARREN, NJ, September 6, 2017 – Ruth Sherrill has signed a professional contract with Killester Basketball Club (competes in Ireland’s top national leagues) for the 2017-2018 season.

“I couldn’t be happier to be starting my professional career in Dublin with Killester,” said Sherrill. “It’s a great program that has already been very welcoming to me. I am so excited to be a part of a family and goal-oriented organization. I am also looking forward to this season; the team and I have a lot of expectations and goals that I’m sure we will not only accomplish, but surpass.”

Sherrill, the former Temple Owl, left for Dublin on Saturday, September 2 and played in the team’s first scrimmage of the season on September 4, when she posted a double-double.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Ruth,” said Shawn Farmer, IPZ’s managing director of basketball. “She will most definitely be an impact player for Killester. The club has an outstanding reputation for housing a family environment and Ruth will fit right in.”

About IPZ: IPZ is a family-focused management, representation, and consulting firm, built on the integrity of its professionals, and developing whole life solutions for its clients. The firm is an alliance with Zito Partners. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com. 

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

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Media Contact:

Kyrsten Van Natta
(862) 205-9841
kyrsten@ipzusa.com

AARON COSBY: THE NEWEST MEMBER OF THE IPZ FAMILY

Professional Basketball Player Selects IPZ for Representation

WARREN, NJ, August 17, 2017 – Aaron Cosby, a professional basketball player and proven game-changer, has chosen IPZ for representation, the company announced today.

The 6-foot-3 guard is a native of Louisville, KY, and played collegiately at Seton Hall, Illinois, and Western Kentucky. In his freshman year at Seton Hall, Cosby averaged 7.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. The following season with the Pirates, Cosby improved his numbers averaging 12.6 points, 3.0 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per contest, to go along with a 40 percent three-point field goal percentage.

Following his sophomore campaign, Cosby transferred to Illinois and played his first and only season with the Illini in 2014-2015. He averaged 7.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. The shooting guard finished out his collegiate career at Western Kentucky and accumulated a stat line of 13.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, while connecting on 37 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and knocking down free throws at an 86 percent success rate.

Cosby was selected by the Erie Bayhawks in the 2016 NBA D-League Draft. He played a stint for the Bayhawks before signing with the Bristol Academy Flyers (BBL – the top-tier league in the United Kingdom) in December. Prior to Cosby’s arrival, the Flyers held a 1-10 record and were at the bottom of league standings. On December 2, Cosby stepped onto the court for Bristol and led them to a 15-9 record over the next 24 games. The Flyers found themselves in the playoffs for the first time in the club’s history. Cosby posted 17.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 31.2 minutes per game and shot 84 percent from the stripe during his tenure with Bristol.

“I decided to sign with InterperformancesUSA because I wanted to find an agency that I could see myself with for a very long time,” said Cosby. “I know several players that are already clients of InterperformancesUSA and they all speak highly of their experience. This is an agency that has a long list of successful players and I hope to add to that list in the future. My professional career is just beginning and I’m excited to continue with my new representation.”

“Aaron is the perfect example of a player who is smart on and off the court,” said IPZ’s Managing Partner Robert Zito. “He is a true leader; his winning mentality and skillset give him the ability to change the game. We, at IPZ, look forward to working with him and can’t wait to see what his future holds.”

View Aaron Cosby’s highlights from the 2016-2017 season here.

About IPZ: IPZ is a family-focused management, representation, and consulting firm, built on the integrity of its professionals, and developing whole life solutions for its clients. The firm is an alliance with Zito Partners. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com. 

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

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Media Contact:

Kyrsten Van Natta
(862) 205-9841
kyrsten@ipzusa.com