The NCAA men’s basketball oversight committee has proposed a significant rule change that would allow undergraduate basketball players to return to school and resume their playing careers after initialing declaring their eligibility for the NBA draft. This proposed amendment is a drastic change from existing NCAA rules which prevent a student-athlete from returning to school and resuming his collegiate basketball career once he has filed for NBA draft eligibility.

Under the proposed rule change, underclassmen who have initially elected to make themselves eligible for the NBA draft would be permitted to attend the NBA’s pre-draft combine in May and receive a personal evaluation of their projected draft status by NBA personnel. The player then would be able to review and assess the feedback he received and potentially withdraw from NBA draft consideration and protect their remaining collegiate eligibility. If adopted, the NCAA will establish a withdrawal deadline date consistent with the proposal.

The NBA still would maintain an early draft entry deadline for underclassmen in late-April and a projected withdrawal date from draft consideration of 10 days before the draft, consistent with the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement before the NBA and its Players Association.

The NBA and the NCAA worked together on this proposal to address the increasing number of underclassmen who have elected to make themselves eligible for the NBA draft. Currently, 47 of the players who have elected early eligibility for the NBA draft are from college programs. Since the NBA draft allows a team to select a total of 60 players during its two-round draft process, a number of players who elected to leave college early likely will not be drafted. These undrafted players have limited options to continue their careers overseas or in the NBA’s development league. However, they do not have the option of returning to college and resuming their careers.

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, chairperson of the NCAA’s men’s basketball oversight committee that drafted the proposed rule change, explained that the change will be in place for the 2016 NBA draft if it is adopted by the NCAA during a scheduled vote expected to occur in a January 2016 meeting.

 

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Photo of Gregg E. Clifton Gregg E. Clifton

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in…

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. Mr. Clifton has also worked extensively in the area of agent regulation and enforcement in professional and college sports and regularly provides counsel on issues relating to NCAA and NAIA amateurism issues and athlete eligibility questions. He has also served as an expert witness in matters involving sports agents’ work and responsibilities, as well as athlete compensation issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Team Sports for Gaylord Sports Management. He also served as President of the Athlete and Entertainment Division for famed sports attorney Bob Woolf’s firm, Woolf Associates, in Boston.

Mr. Clifton began his career as an Associate at Jackson Lewis where he focused his practice on traditional labor law. He continues to counsel clients in the areas of collective bargaining negotiations, representation cases, arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board matters.

Mr. Clifton frequently serves as an expert speaker to law schools, including Harvard University, Boston College, Hofstra University and Arizona State University, and bar associations regarding sports law issues, including agent regulation and salary arbitration. He is also often cited as an expert source in national news media for his commentary and opinion on legal issues in sports.