Some tweaking could help the Maine Basketball Hall’s vetting process

Vast institutional knowledge and faith in the integrity of possible inductees appear to make up the vetting process for former players, coaches, officials and contributors considered for induction to the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame.

The process was used for last year’s inaugural class and didn’t change for the second class announced Wednesday despite the controversy that erupted over the first class when former Jonesport-Beals coach Ordman Alley’s induction was rescinded over allegations of sexual abuse that he strongly denied.

The vetting process and information some inductees may not chose to share is a process all similar organizations struggle with, according to Tony Hamlin, the chairman of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee.
“All you can do is ask. They know why we’re asking and what we’re doing,” he said.

Hamlin admits that his committee does also struggle with where to draw line for determining what type of possible problems should determine whether or not a candidate should be inducted.

The committee thus not only has to make its decisions based on its judgment of possible inductees’ credibility but also has to rely on committee members’ accumulated knowledge of the inductees and input they receive from many basketball contacts.

Several of state’s former outstanding players and coaches, along with several current coaches make up the committee: Bill McAvoy, Jamie Russell, Brenda Beckwith, Peter Webb, Bob Brown, Dick Whitmore, Dick Meader, Paul Cook, Paul Vachon, Ronnie Cote, Doug Roberts, Fern Massey, Tim Bonsant, Ken Lindloff and Tom Maines.

“Most of these guys know [the inductees] first hand. They’re venerable people,” Hamlin said.

Hamlin’s confidence in his peers’ judgment is understandable given their vast basketball backgrounds, character, accomplishments and contacts throughout the state. It’s also understandable that a nonprofit organization probably doesn’t have the time and financial resources to do extensive background checks on possible inductees.

However, there could be a couple of ways to improve the process. The first would be to add more diversity to the selection committee by adding more women. Few can match the credentials of Beckwith, a former outstanding player and coach and basketball historian, but more women could offer fresh and different perspectives.

It would also help to add some younger coaches, those with social media savvy, to the committee. The extra publicity spread about the Hall through Facebook and Twitter, as well as research through Internet sources, could be beneficial.

Committee members could also consider going more frequently outside their basketball comfort zone. If time permits, then talk to other folks in the communities about the inductees such as town councilors and school committee members.

Does this make it a perfect vetting process? No, but it does make it an evolving one.

Joe McLaughlin

About Joe McLaughlin

McLaughlin (right) is a Stearns High School and University of Maine graduate who worked for three years at the Aroostook Republican and News in Caribou as a reporter and editor. He has worked on the BDN sports desk for 30 years, the last 18 as sports editor. McLaughlin and his wife, Kathy Schwigan, live in Brewer and have three adult children: Ryan, Matthew and Tess.