Archive for Tuesday, February 14, 1995

AT HASKELL

February 14, 1995

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Recruiting. It's a crucial element of any college athletic program.

At Haskell, as men's basketball coach Walt Wilson can tell you, "It's not the same."

Recruiting is a different game at Haskell than at most colleges and junior colleges.

"Nearly every other school has a pretty good population base of student-athletes in the local area, except us," Wilson said. "Most of our players have to come from at least six hours away. That's almost the minimum."

Wilson's team includes players from eight different states -- five from Oklahoma, two each from Idaho and Mississippi, and one each from Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

"We have very few in our local community that qualify to play here," Wilson noted. "That's probably our biggest disadvantage in recruiting."

Haskell football coach Gary Tanner has found Oklahoma fertile recruiting ground. He's a native of Jay, Okla.

"That's why most of my people are from Oklahoma," he said. "It's close. There are a lot of Indians, and they play good high school football. Not that that's the best football, but it meets most of my needs.

"That's where I coached," Tanner said. "I've got a lot of friends down there. I've got relations I go down and stay with when I recruit. That's not to say Oklahoma is the only place I'd like to go. It's just the only place I've been able to go."

The Indians do, however, have at least one advantage that most other schools may not, according to Wilson.

"Probably 75 percent of the players we get are second- or third-generation players," Wilson said. "Their fathers and mothers came here, their aunts and uncles, or their grandmothers or grandfathers. So they already know about Haskell, and it's just a matter of renewing the interest."

And there's a reason, says athletic director Jerry Tuckwin, that their interest can be renewed.

"All students at Haskell, in a sense, get full scholarships," Tuckwin said. "They work for their room and board, and athletes do as well, but basically everything is taken care of financially.

"When we speak with potential student-athletes," Tuckwin said, "we like to think in many ways the package they can get at Haskell is just as good as they can get anywhere. That's a real selling point. The other selling point is we try to appeal to their American Indian pride in that we're the only college that has a full Indian athletic staff. We try to appeal to their pride to play for a college that has all American Indians."

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