This week the NCAA Commission on College Basketball stepped to the line and took their shot at laying out guidelines to improve NCAA Division I basketball. The top story from the 2017-18 college basketball season wasn’t high school players like Marvin Bagley III or Jontay Porter reclassifying, Trae Young doing his best Russell Westbrook impersonation, or even the historic UMBC upset over Virginia…no the top story this year was the FBI probe.
The FBI released a report that stated numerous college basketball stars and coaches had committed various violations including payments. From Arizona to Kansas, blue chip basketball programs were waiting for the other shoe to fall. While the final buzzer of the FBI probe has yet go off the NCAA put together a commission to look at the issues that surround college basketball and change the perception of the game.
The NCAA Commission released several suggestions for improving and “fixing” college basketball. They include:
- Removing the one-and-done rule
- Allowing players to return to school if they go undrafted, as long as they do not sign with an agent and receive money
- Emphasizing more interaction with professional and approved agents
- Harder penalties for coaches that commit major violations
- Greater transparency from apparel and sneaker companies
- Working with high school athletes and providing more certified exposure events
So what does all of that mean and what are the chances that this will help correct the image of college basketball. First of all it must be acknowledged that several of the guidelines technically fall outside of the NCAA legislature. The big one, the one-and-done rule is instituted by the NBA, exposure events are run by USA Basketball, and apparel and sneaker companies are obviously outside the NCAA realm.
Since Adam Silver took over the NBA he has been looking at ways to improve the league and talk of removing the one-and-done has gained some traction. Another comment made by Silver could tie into both the NCAA and USA Basketball, the camps. All three could work together to better train high school players and prepare them for their future. This means not just skills camps but life and business classes. More involved skills camps would also remove the slime of AAU basketball and give prep athletes a better idea of whether to go pro or get more development in college.
The more difficult step is with apparel and sneaker companies. Clearly they are businesses and we know that businesses are in to make money. Will they be willing to be more open with their business dealings with players? They could take the high ground and promise to help fix the image of college basketball but will they stand by that if there is a chance at losing a star athlete?
It only makes sense that the NCAA would work with agents, registering them and allowing players to have greater interaction with them. Again, this is conducive on not receiving any money from the agents, but players could benefit from assessments and again this could be tied in with skills camps that both the NCAA and NBA have mentioned.
The one guideline that the NCAA does have control over is the sanctions placed on coaches caught in violating rules. The NCAA has taken some hard hits recently over their presumed lack of consistency with recruiting violations. The commission suggested using impartial and neutral investigators while pushing for five-year bans for coaches committing Level I violations and the loss of all revenue sharing for the postseason. If a change is to be made the NCAA and school officials need to take responsibility and action. They can no longer use the phrase that they did not know or go light on coaches, especially repeat offenders. If you want to clean up the game, you have to punish the offenders. They know the rules, it is time to abide by them.
Even though the NCAA wants to implement these guidelines beginning this fall, it may take a while to fully flush out the guidelines and correct the course. There is no doubt however that if the NCAA, and other tangent organizations, take these suggestions seriously and work together that they will be able to shine the lights back on the basketball courts instead of on under the table bags of money and wiretaps.