Commission recommends significant changes to college basketball model

  • 04/25/2018 8:37 am in

The commission on college basketball, led by Condoleeza Rice, announced its recommendations for changes to the sport to the NCAA Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors.

The full report, which is 60 pages, can be accessed here. We’ve summarized some of the key recommendations below:

· Abolish the one-and-done rule:

The Commission calls on the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) again to make 18-year-olds eligible for the NBA draft, so that high school players who are drafted may proceed to the NBA. The NCAA lacks the legal power to change one-and-done on its own; the power to make this change lies exclusively with the NBA and the NBPA.

· Allow student athletes to test their professional prospects without losing their eligibility if a contract is not signed:

The Commission recommends that high school and college players who declare for the draft and are not drafted remain eligible for college basketball unless and until they sign a professional contract. Specifically, players who are not drafted should be permitted to change their minds and attend college or return to college, provided they remain academically and otherwise eligible. The Commission also recommends imposing two additional conditions on this retention of eligibility: The player must return to the same school, and the player must request an evaluation from the NBA’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee before entering the draft. The NBA has unique credibility with elite players who should have the benefit of the NBA evaluation in deciding whether to enter the draft.

· Permit students to receive meaningful assessment of professional prospects earlier with assistance from certified agents:

The Commission recommends that the NCAA and its member institutions develop strict standards for certifying agents and allow NCAA-certified agents to engage with student-athletes at an appropriate point in their high school careers to be determined by the NCAA. The NCAA must appoint a Vice-President level executive to develop meaningful standards for NCAA certification and administer the program. Among other requirements, the rules should mandate that agents notify colleges when they are retained by a matriculating student-athlete. The program should also educate student-athletes about eligibility rules and requirements.

· Provide resources too make the promise of a college education real:

The Commission recommends that the NCAA immediately establish a substantial fund and commit to paying for the degree completion of student athletes with athletic scholarships who leave member institutions after progress of at least two years towards a degree. Colleges and universities must fulfill their commitments to student-athletes to provide not just a venue for athletic competition, but also an education. They must promise student-athletes that the option to receive an education will be there, even after the athlete is finished with his athletic career. This will be expensive, but it is necessary to restore credibility to the phrase student-athlete.

· Implement independent investigation and adjudication of complex cases:

The Commission recommends that the NCAA create independent investigative and adjudicative arms to address and resolve complex and serious cases (hereafter “complex cases”) involving violations of NCAA rules.

· Enact and impose core punishments with significant deterrent effect:

The Commission recommends that the NCAA enact significant increases in the penalties imposed on institutions and individuals for violations of NCAA rules. Currently, the rewards for violating the rules far outweigh the risks. To reverse
this calculation, the Commission recommends a number of changes in the NCAA’s penalty structure.

· Mitigating non-scholastic basketball’s harmful influence on college basketball:

Virtually all of the top recruits for each collegiate recruiting class participate in non-scholastic basketball. The Commission recommends that the NCAA take short and long-term actions to reform non-scholastic basketball and disassociate the NCAA and its member institutions from the aspects of non-scholastic basketball where transparency and ethical behavior cannot be assured. As part of this effort, the Commission recommends that the NCAA partner with USA Basketball, the NBA, the NBPA and others to create and administer new resources and programs for youth basketball development, including substantial regional camps for collegiate prospects in July where NCAA coaches would evaluate players.

· Reform non-scholastic basketball and make its finances transparent:

In the near term, the Commission recommends that the NCAA promptly adopt and enforce rigorous criteria for certifying the non-scholastic basketball events that its coaches attend. In order for the NCAA to certify a non-scholastic basketball event, the owners, event operators, sponsors, and coaches for the event must agree to financial transparency about all events they run, including those that are not certified by the NCAA. This requirement includes agreement (i) to be subject to audit and to provide all required IRS and other tax filings upon request; (ii) to disclose all sources of financing and other payments and the recipients of all funds provided for or collected in relation to the event; and (iii) to disclose any financial relationship between the event sponsors and coaches with any administrator, coach or booster at any NCAA school. The money flowing from apparel companies and other third parties into non-scholastic basketball must be disclosed and accounted for, in order to address the corruption arising from nonscholastic basketball.

· Enlist the apparel companies in transparency and accountability efforts:

The apparel companies that actively sponsor non-scholastic basketball are public companies. It appears, however, that they do not have effective controls in place in their spending in non-scholastic basketball. The Commission calls on the boards of these companies to publicly support and implement financial transparency and accountability with respect to their own investments in nonscholastic basketball. Particularly in light of the facts uncovered in the recent FBI investigation, these public companies should be concerned about how their money is used in non-scholastic basketball. We expect that these companies will insist that all employees provide detailed accountability about such expenditures and cooperate with new NCAA rules about financial transparency and accountability.

· In cooperation with partners, establish NCAA youth basketball programs:

With respect to the longer term, the Commission recommends that with a goal of 2019, the NCAA work with USA Basketball, the NBA and the NBPA and others to establish and administer new youth basketball programs. We would expect the NCAA to devote significant resources and attention to these programs. Briefly, the Commission proposes that youth basketball players be identified and developed at three levels: Level 1, players with National Team potential; Level 2, players with Highest Collegiate potential; and Level 3, players with Collegiate potential. At each level, players would have to be identified, developed and evaluated by appropriate stakeholders. Critically, that development would include not only basketball, but also academic and life skills, health and collegiate eligibility. One centerpiece of this program would be NCAA-administered regional non-scholastic basketball events in July that NCAA coaches would exclusively attend. The Commission also recommends that the NCAA – in collaboration with USA Basketball, the NBA, the NBPA, the WNBPA – consider similar initiatives to enhance the development of young women basketball players.

In sum, the NCAA and NCAA coaches may no longer associate with nonscholastic basketball events that are not financially transparent and otherwise compliant with NCAA requirements regardless of when they are held. Moreover, in light of the recommendation that players be permitted to choose a professional pathway at an earlier time, the NCAA and others should devote significant resources to earlier development, including education, for players in youth basketball. The corruption we observe in college basketball has its roots in youth basketball. The reforms recommended by the Commission will be fruitless unless the NCAA gives serious attention to regulating summer programs.

· Enact changes in rules governing recruiting and coaches’ interaction with recruits and student-athletes:

The Commission also endorses and recommends adoption of a number of the rule changes recommended by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and other organizations to reduce the influence of third parties and increase the ability of college coaches to interact with recruits and current players.

· Add a significant cadre of public members to the NCAA’s Board of Governors:

The Commission recommends that the NCAA restructure its highest governance body, the Board of Governors, to include at least five public members with the experience, stature and objectivity to assist the NCAA in re-establishing itself as an effective and respected leader and regulator of college sports. One of these public members should also serve on the NCAA’s Executive Board. The current Board of Governors includes 16 institutional presidents or chancellors, the chairs of the Division I Council and the Division II and III Management Councils, and the NCAA president. NCAA Constitution 4.1.1 (Composition). Like public companies, major non-profit associations usually include outside board members to provide objectivity, relevant experience, perspective and wisdom. Board members with those qualities will provide valuable insight to the NCAA generally, and as it works towards the restoration of college basketball. The NCAA should promptly identify candidates with the appropriate stature and characteristics, and change its rules to require public voting members on its highest governing body. The Commission will make independent board member recommendations to the NCAA to assist it in assembling a first-rate list of candidates.

It’s important to note that these are just recommendations from the commission and it will be up the NCAA to enact any recommended changes.

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