We conclude Lorenzo Romar Week with Part IV in our series of interviews with Washington men’s basketball coach.
In this installment, he opens up about former UW standout Venoy Overton, plans on renovating Edmundson Pavilion and possibly attracting a big-name non-conference home opponent for the 2012-13 season.
Romar also announced Washington will travel to China next summer for a nine-game exhibition tour.
He delved into sensitive topics such as paying athletes and Pac-12 expansion.
And finally, Romar said he plans to have a frank discussion with his players about Twitter and hinted about adopting a new team policy regarding social media.
Here’s the interview below.
(There’s been many weeks now since the bombshell dropped regarding Venoy Overton. Looking back, was there something we missed with him?) “I don’t know what you mean by missing something.”
(Anytime kids don’t turn out the way you want – I know a lot of parents feel this way – you sometimes ask could I have done something more or was there something I missed? I guess that’s my question.) “As a parent of three daughters I think whenever you’re a mentor or a parent, anytime something doesn’t go as planned you ask those questions. Was there something else I could have done? It’s one of those unfortunate situations. In nine years, something like that unfortunately happens.
“In terms of our program and our program’s future, I just don’t see that being a reoccurring theme. It hadn’t been. In terms of handling the situation and if I had to do it over again, knowing the information I had at the time, I probably would handled it the same way.
“And then thirdly, 5-10 years from now we’ll see how everything has turned out for our program and for him. You hope you learn from it. Some of the most convincing arguments come from someone who has been through it. My hope is one day he’s helping others because he’s experienced something he’s not proud of, but he’s able to help somebody to try and not make that same mistake. That would be my hope and that he’s grown from this.”
(Do you have much of a relationship with Overton anymore?) “We haven’t really talked. But we will.”
(Any changes to your staff?) “No.”
(Thoughts on the 2012-13 schedule. Is it close to being done?) “We’re still working on it.”
(Many teams in the Pac-12 are playing in overseas exhibitions this year. Will Washington do anything like that?) “Next summer we’re planning on going to China.”
(In 2012?) “Next summer.”
(Why?) “You get to go once every four years. You get 10 practices prior to leaving. Culturally it’s great. For team bonding, it’s great. You get extra time with your players. So I think it’s great.”
(Do you know where in China you’re going?) “We’re going to be in three different cities. I can’t remember at this point which cities.”
(How many games will you play?) “I think we’re going to play nine.”
(Wow. That’s a big number.) “Yeah.”
(You potentially have a big recruiting class coming in 2013. If it were me, I’d push that trip back two years and use it as another enticement to lure some of those recruits.) “Yeah we could, but you know what, we could have gone on this trip last year. And we saved it for the following year. And we just keep putting it back. So we said let’s go.”
(Injuries can happen anywhere, but do you worry about freak accidents happening in an exhibition thousands of miles from home?) “When something happens like that, you tend to evaluate if you’re doing the right thing. (Purdue’s) Robbie Hummel hurt his knee in practice. Do you say maybe we shouldn’t practice? Abdul (Gaddy) hurt his knee in practice. Maybe we shouldn’t practice? Kids get hurt. … I don’t look at it that way.”
(I heard you say you wish you could have brought in a big-name non-conference opponent to reward UW fans. Are you working on that for the 2012-13 season?) “We’ll always try to. This is the first year it’s going to be like that in awhile. We have such great fans and you’d like to reward them with a marquee, high-profile team. Although our schedule is very interesting. It maybe like some of those recruiting classes where there’s not a lot of five stars, but they’re better than you might think. We played Cleveland State here a few years ago. They didn’t seem very good, but they leave us and go beat Syracuse.”
(What do you think about Twitter?) “I’m not the greatest fan of Twitter.”
(Are you on Twitter?) “Not really. I have an account, but I don’t really use it. We keep – as a staff – we keep talking about how a lot of people are using it. For me personally, I just never wanted to – again I’m not condemning anybody else – get on it and talk about myself and tell people what I’m doing. I don’t think of myself as being that interesting to tell everybody what I’m doing all day.”
(If you’re still coaching 10 years from now, you think you’ll look back on your views about Twitter and laugh. I say that because many coaches are using it as a recruiting tool.) “The only reason I have an account is because I’m coaching. If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing, I wouldn’t think of having a Twitter account. Long time ago I didn’t use a computer. Didn’t do text messages. Finally I said, show me how to do this. I got to do it. But I can see that happening. Again, I’m not resistant to that point. I’m not totally ancient. Everything changes. But like I said I’m not a big fan of Twitter. I don’t think everybody is walking around wondering what I’m doing.”
(Some colleges coaches are banning Twitter doing the season. Have you had those thoughts?) “We’re going to have some interesting conversations coming up this year about that. We definitely have to address some issues.”
(What are you talking about?) “I just think in general without being specific there are things within your own family that stays in the family. What goes on there, stays there. I think it’s important that your family keep that to themselves.”
(We can go all day on this next topic, but is college athletics broken and if so how can it be fixed?) “In terms of violations? Do you mean that type of thing?”
(Sure.) “I think there a lot of things now in this world in general that were going on before that technology didn’t allow us to know about. The technology the way it is now, maybe people are finding out things that were going on that were going on before. There’s so much money to be made now. And the chase for the almighty dollar, people will compromise and go against their nature. But people have done that for years. A lot more people are made aware of it because of technology right now. Is there some things wrong with college sports? Yeah, but you think of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s there were things wrong with it as well. It’s not perfect.”
(You were a college athlete and now you’re a college basketball coach so I’m sure you’ve got an interesting take on the proposal of paying student-athletes. Do you give them a stipend, cash or increase the value of their scholarships to include cost-of-living expenses?) “That would be my vote.”
(Which one?) “The stipend or increasing the scholarship. Just some extra money to compensate for not being able to go to work and get paid. Obviously in the offseason, the kids can work. But during the season, it’s not possible. So yeah, I’m for increasing the scholarship. But how do you do that? Do you just do it for the revenue sports? And if you do, there’s some lower Division I schools that don’t have money to pay a secretary. They have to play every game on the road because they have to get money for guaranteed games. Are they going to be able to pay the same stipend as a high-level D-I program? How does that work? So there’s a lot more into it.”
(Is it broken?) “I don’t think it’s broken. There’s issues with it. There’s things that make it less than perfect. I wouldn’t say it’s broken.”
(What are thoughts on the new Pac-12?) “I think we’re going into it steamrolling with a lot of momentum. Larry Scott and the things that he’s done as the commissioner of this league, I really, really like what he’s done.”
(The new conference is barely a few weeks old and there’s already talk of expanding the league. Is the Pac-16 inevitable?) “It could be inevitable. There sure seems to be a lot of talk about the mega-conferences. I’m not saying that it is inevitable, but it could be heading that way. Me personally, I just told you it took me awhile to get with the computer, texting and Twitter. I’d always learned the latest dance late. So for me and just in my way of thinking I’d hate to see it totally go away. Again that’s how I feel. The first year that I played college basketball it was the inaugural year of the Pac-10. I grew up on the Pac-8 and now we’re getting Arizona and Arizona State. Well they’ve done pretty good over the years. Now I love the Pac-10 and here we have the Pac-12. The fans, they’ll get used to that. It takes a little time.”
(Last year you mentioned Edmundson Pavilion renovations, but there hasn’t been much talk about it in recent months. What’s going on with that project?) “With football doing what they’re doing. They’ve already broken ground. Baseball gets new lockerrooms. There’s just a lot of things going on right now. Hopefully we’ll get something done, but right now there’s lots of other things going on.”
(So no immediate plans?) “We always talk about it, but we got to get to that next step.”
(Thanks Coach. Appreciate your time.) “Thank you.”