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October 12, 2017

Larry Krystkowiak

San Francisco, California

LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: We're excited to be here, year seven, at Utah, picked No. 7. So it's my lucky number. Expect us to go to the Final Four. How's that? That's it. Fire away.

Q. I'm not surprised by Kyle Kuzma, but the whole Los Angeles and the whole nation is surprised. So I'd love to hear your thoughts about Kyle and how he's doing on the Lakers.
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Well, Kyle, what a great story. I mean, it's been a heck of a journey for him. We have it printed in our program or in our facility. We talk about the process a lot, not having shortcuts and putting in the work.

He was with our program for four years. He got his degree in four years. You know, he felt like he was ready to take off, and he had an amazing spring after his junior year. He even improved from the time his junior year ended until he went to Chicago in that pre-draft camp.

But he's done everything the right way. He's extremely hard worker, grounded kid, really matured. His body changed. I think you can see what playing with some confidence will do for you. He's certainly -- I think it's a perfect spot when you can go play with a guy like Lonzo and point guards that are going to make guys better. It's created a lot of buzz there. We're just really proud of him and happy for him.

Q. You have two Utes on the Lakers now. You have Bogut as well, right?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Yeah, I wasn't even thinking about that. Not just the Utes, but there are a number of Pac-12 players, with 14 guys being selected in the draft. Almost 25% of the draft was from our conference. So it's fun to be a part of.

Q. Is that helping you with recruiting at all?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Well, I think the league overall is benefiting from it, you know? It's a league that translates really well to the NBA, I think, in terms of style of play.

There are a lot of conferences maybe on the East Coast, but it's hard to get to. I think we are the premier conference on the West Coast. So a little bit of exposure and guys have done well. So it's a real positive thing for our league. I hope we get some benefit from it. Having a track record of proving that we can put guys there is a big part of what kids are making decisions on where they want to go to school. So we're able to prove that now.

Q. (Indiscernible) the F.B.I. scandal, everybody's talking about it today, but probably all season?

Q. I'm here to tell you that's probably what's going to happen. What is your reaction when you read about it, found out about it that day? Did anyone tip you off that something big was coming?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: No. I'm trying to remember where I was. You know, to be honest with you, it's like a lot of people say and you kind of knew things were taking place, whether or not it ever came to light in my lifetime, I wasn't ever sure it was going to.

So we didn't lose any sleep. I think everybody makes a decision across the country how you're going to go about your business, and we felt really secure that we weren't going to be involved with it. So it really didn't have -- we didn't even talk about it as a staff.

Q. Coaches across the country are under a tremendous amount of pressure to win and spend a lot of money. When young coaches come and talk to you about the business, "how do I do it," do you have discussions about the amount of pressure that you'll be under?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: No, I don't get involved with that. I specifically try to find out where that person -- the whole key is getting your foot in the door with young coaches. Even in my case, I thought I was going to finish playing and then just land a job. After a couple years of striking out, a lot of mentors for me suggested you go back to your alma mater. I went back to Montana, and basically they paid me a little money, but it was more of a volunteer job for a couple years.

Everybody's path is different. Everybody's path is different. And whether you're a coach or anybody's profession, you have to make a decision what their blueprint is going to be, what their mission statement's going to be and how they're going to go about their business.

It's easy to try to find some shortcuts and figure out a way. It's hard not to want to do just about whatever it takes to be successful. It's almost a little bit like a drug. You get a little taste of it, and that can happen.

But I haven't specifically tried to mentor or talk to any coaches about it. I think it's something that's been brought to light now, and people are going to have to consider some of their choices.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: No. I've got my own opinions on things.

Q. Would you like to share them?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Not really. I think we're talking about task forces and trying to put together different perspectives and how to fix it. You know, if people that are in a position to maybe make some changes wanted to ask me my opinion, I'd be willing to do that.

But it's not easy. There are coaches involved with this right now that I'm in the profession with and I have a lot of respect for. And respect to them, I think it's best if I just kind of sit on the sidelines and wait and see how it all shakes out.

Q. Apparently Tad Boyle said something like when he goes into recruiting there are sometimes when he senses that somebody's asking for a handout and he'll pull back and stop recruiting that kid. Has that ever happened to you?

Q. Regularly? Or how much of a factor has it been?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Well, I mean, I can't say regularly. I can think of five, six, seven times off the top of my head where you get to a certain point in the process. Is there anything else? Is there anything else? You know, and you kind of get the sense. We usually just steer away from it a little bit.

Or, to be honest, you can actually do some coaching and make reference to: Hey, if those things are going on, just so you realize, should you attend this school that's making those kind of decisions, you may not be in an NCAA Tournament, or who knows what the ramifications of that are going to be.

I get into talking about Kyle Kuzma. There aren't any shortcuts. You've got to trust the process and get through it and try to stay aboveboard. Usually that's a life lesson not just for college basketball, but for most things.

Q. Going back to (indiscernible) is there a go-to guy on this team? If so, do you need one in a conference like this?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Look, a year ago I don't think anybody was talking about Kyle Kuzma. I can remember being in discussions with, oh, my, you lost Lon and you lost Jakub, what are you going to do now? I think we've got a talented roster. I don't know if we're talking about NBA guys, but I wasn't talking about any of them a year ago either.

So we're going to try to put the players that we have in the best position to be successful. It may be more of a collaborated effort where we've got to trust each other and maybe not have the one guy to throw the ball to.

But I can think of three, four, five guys right now that I trust with the ball in their hand if we need to get a basket. That's the unique part about our job; that typically that cast isn't going to return, so you've got to kind of play the little game and put them together.

But I don't feel like it's a void that we can't overcome. Now, that doesn't mean I wouldn't love to have Kyle back, because I think we could be talking about Player of the Year kind of stuff. We'll figure out a way to make it happen. But I don't think anybody -- there are a couple guys here for Media Day that I think are doing a nice job. We've got three, four guys back at home that I think are doing a nice job.

So maybe it's a little more collected. I'm perfectly fine if we have four or five guys in double figures. That's not a bad thing either.

Q. In light of what you were saying before about backing away from kids every once in a while, why is there the code of silence in college basketball among coaches, and have you ever considered going to the NCAA or going to somebody when you have suspicion?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Well, a lot of times it's suspicions. There have been a few times that I've had the goods. I think it's my choice personally that I'm not -- to me you need to try to take the high road and not get involved with it. But I'm certainly not looking to -- I've just always been a believer in karma, rather than me getting involved and thinking I need to be a part of blowing something open.

And to be honest with you, I don't know how much enforcement, authority, power the NCAA has truly had when it comes to trying to find things out. So you call them, and they might -- my guess would be that there would be: Oh, yeah, we know that. But not a whole lot that they can do about it when you don't have power to subpoena and look at bank records and different things like that. So it's almost a problem to begin with when you have a huge set of rules but you can't enforce a lot of those rules.

Q. Philosophically, how much should a head coach know about an assistant's dealings with recruits?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Well, again, that's something that's kind of walking a fine line with having a lot of respect for the other 11 head coaches that are here. I'm not in their positions. It's like negative recruiting. If I know we're going up against somebody and they're interested in UCLA, I don't make it a habit of talking about UCLA in a negative.

We've all got our own issues. That's a matter that, from a legal point of view, I think NCAA's made the statement that we need to. We sign forms every year that I need to know what's going on with my guys. But beyond that, I don't want to imply --

Q. What does that form say explicitly?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: It's like a lot of legal forms. It's probably two pages. But the CliffsNotes of that form is that the head coach is held responsible. The old saying of "I didn't know what my assistants were doing" wasn't going to apply anymore. You need to know at all times what was taking place so that that buck couldn't be passed.

Q. With this Pac-12 Task Force, do you think it could have a meaningful impact in helping matters?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Well, I'm assuming it can. It needs to be talked about. There are a lot of people from different walks of life and different experiences; that if you put some knowledgeable people in a room that understand a lot of it, it's certainly better than having nothing.

In the past, I think you're seeing the president of the NCAA and Commissioner of our conference are being proactive. I can only hope that it's going to have some positive impact on the overall picture.

Q. What do you think about Chris Hill being part of that (indiscernible)?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: Well, I think there are a lot of similarities, and Chris knows our program. It was interesting when we talked about it. It wasn't one of those "head coach to athletic director" phone calls that might have been happening around the country. It was something like where we were saying, okay, I wasn't sure if we were ever going to see it.

But something's blowing up. Chris has a lot of experience. He's the longest-tenured athletic director in the United States right now. He's been heavily involved with the NCAA basketball committee, so he's seen a lot of things over his years.

And if I were putting together a task force and I were the commissioner, I think Chris Hill would be one of the first people I would call too. So obviously Larry Scott felt the same way.

Q. The task force and the NCAA committee seem like they're looking at AAU, et cetera. In your case, I didn't know if you've seen things get to that awkward point where you're wondering about something that's going on that they're looking for, is it typically from your experience do you see it from the AAU people, the kid himself, the handler? Is it all over the map?
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: It's all over the map, yeah. You get some of those phone calls, random phone calls that, hey, it's going to take this much. Sometimes it comes directly, "Is there anything else you guys can do to sweeten the pot?" kind of deal.

So I think it's pretty obvious it's prevalent. Again, once the pie gets as big as it is, that everybody's looking to figure out how to get a piece of it, right? That's human nature, and it's gone on long enough that I think there are a lot of people that have probably been involved.

Q. What are some of the issues that you see as having exacerbated the growth of the issues? Because it seems like it's gotten way worse over the course of the decade or two decades or so.
LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK: My only -- a couple things. First off is money. The pot of money is significantly higher. But I think -- I don't know, to use an analogy, it may not be the proper analogy, but it's kind of like the gateway drug, right? You're introduced to alcohol, and you have a little marijuana, and next thing you know you're doing cocaine, and before you know it you're on Breaking Bad (laughing).

I mean, that's kind of it. You think you can get away with something, and then you find out some of the things that are going on around you.

I was told by a coach this summer -- and I've made the comment that I thought it was a joke; I realized as I walked away that it wasn't a joke -- if you're not cheating, you're cheating yourself. And I remember going, Ha ha, and then I went, Actually, that's probably true.

So, again, the amount of money and the amount of time that it's gone on, I just think it makes for a big mushroom cloud at some point that's going to blow.

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