An overhaul is on the way for men’s college basketball.
The NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball, established in response to a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball, is expected to release proposed changes to the sport on Wednesday, with the goal of final versions of the recommendations voted on by the NCAA executive board in August.
Led by former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the Commission has been tasked by NCAA President Mark Emmert with introducing legislation and methods to protect the integrity of college basketball and the principle of amateurism.
The proposals will focus on:
(1) the NCAA’s relationship with the NBA;
(2) improving the relationship between the NCAA’s national office and the universities to promote accountability and transparency throughout the sport; and,
(3) the relationship between the NCAA national office, member institutions, student-athletes, and coaches with outside entities (including agents and advisors, non-scholastic basketball, and apparel companies).
The Pac-12 and Big East conferences have proposed legislative changes that may offer a preview and foreshadow modifications that may be adopted by the Commission. Both conference proposals advocate eliminating the one-and-done rule prohibiting NBA teams from drafting players until they are a year removed from high school or until they are at least 19 years old. (While the NCAA and its member institutions can call for a change to this prohibition, it is an NBA rule that can only be changed at the professional level.) Professional-bound athletes forced to spend a season in college are considered more likely to accept money and benefits from boosters and agents, who have a financial interest in funneling these athletes to their institutions of choice, contributing to the corruption and lack of integrity necessitating the Commission’s formation.
Further, and in conjunction with the proposed rescission of the NBA’s one-and-done rule, the Big East proposes a “two or none” rule: players that choose to attend college must commit to their institution for at least two years, while high-school players who declare for the NBA draft would forfeit any future college eligibility. The Pac-12 recommends allowing an athlete who enters the NBA draft to retain college eligibility as long as he does not sign a professional contract.
Additionally, the conferences have suggested modifying current NCAA rules on to the use of agents and advisers, proposing that college basketball players be granted similar access to agents and advisers permitted for hockey and baseball players.
In those sports, student-athletes may seek advice from agents and advisers before declaring for their respective professional leagues. In basketball, any contact with an agent jeopardizes the player’s future college eligibility. The Pac-12 proposal would allow high-school athletes from sophomore class onward to seek professional guidance from agents.
The Big East and Pac-12 have suggested the assembly of an independent enforcement unit paid for by corporate sponsorships, television contracts, and other sources.
The Big East proposal includes an elite-player unit (EPU) to focus on the dealings and outside relationships of “players with realistic aspirations of playing in the NBA.” This unit would focus on:
- Oversight of the relationship between apparel companies, coaches, schools, and the NCAA;
- Agent regulation, including a tougher certification process than the current NBA and NBPA process;
- Managing recruiting events;
- Precollegiate advice for players in grades 8 through 12; and
- Improved ethical conduct for coaches in recruiting.
Similarly, the Pac-12 investigative body would focus on the large issues facing college basketball, while rules involving minor infractions, such as institutions occasionally paying for family travel or meal expense, would be relaxed. It also includes significant disclosure obligations regarding college basketball’s relationship with apparel and shoe companies. Under the proposal, coaches and schools would be required to disclose the terms of all contracts with these companies.
Finally, both propose that the NCAA and USA Basketball take on a bigger role in non-scholastic basketball, referring to summer recruiting events sponsored by shoe and apparel companies with no connection to the NCAA. These events would transition from tournaments run by shoe and apparel companies to events co-sponsored by the NCAA. It is anticipated, that uch a change should foster better supervision over the conduct and potential impropriety of apparel companies seeking to establish relationships with student-athletes.
We will keep you apprised of the Rice Commission’s proposed changes and their potential impact on college basketball.