NCAA Commission on College Basketball: A Summary, A Translation and A Take

Yesterday morning, the NCAA Committee on College Basketball reported its recommendations to the world. Below is a summary of the committee’s findings, an oversimplified translation, and an even more simplified take.

Summary 

Section I: Realistic Pathways for Student-Athlete Success

  1. Separate the collegiate track from the professional track by ending one-and-done.
    1. Make elite high school prospects and other elite 18-year-olds eligible for the draft.
  1. Allow student-athletes to test their professional prospects and maintain their eligibility if they do not sign a professional contract.
    1. If a SA declares for the draft and goes undrafted, he will be able to come back to college and retain eligibility.
    2. Year in Residence Rule recommended to remain in place
      1. The NCAA is in too good of a position in the Deppe v. NCAA case in the 7th Circuit to give up that easily.
  1. Permit students to receive meaningful assessment of professional prospects earlier with assistance from certified agents
    1. Allow NCAA to develop strict certification rules to allow NCAA-certified agents to engage with PSAs at an appropriate point in their high school careers to assess professional vs. collegiate prospects.
  1. Provide a resource fund to make the promise of a college education real
    1. Recommendation for the NCAA to immediately establish a fund that will commit to paying for the degree completion of student-athletes of at least two years towards a degree.

Section II: Establish Professional Neutral Investigation and Adjudication of Serious Infractions and Hold Institutions and Individuals Accountable

  1. Implement independent investigation and adjudication of complex cases
    1. Proposal for NCAA to create independent investigative and adjudicative arms (judge and jury) to address and resolve complex and serious cases involving NCAA infractions.
      1. If “everyone knows” then institutions should be held to a higher disciplinary standard.
  1. Enact and impose core punishments with significant deterrent effect
    1. Because the rewards for breaking the rules outweigh the current penalties, the Commission recommended the following increased penalties:
      1. Increase the competition penalties for Level I violations to allow a five-year postseason ban, including the NCAA tournament;
      2. Increase the financial penalties for Level I violations to allow loss of all revenue sharing in postseason play, including revenue from the NCAA tournament;
      3. Increase the penalties for a show-cause order to allow bans of more than one season;
      4. Increase the restrictions on head coaches to allow bans of more than one season; and
      5. Increase the penalties for recruiting visit violations to allow full-year bans.
  2. Commission recommends the NCAA enact a rule requiring coaches, athletic directors, and college presidents to certify annually that they have conducted due diligence and their athletic programs comply with NCAA rules.
  3. Committee recommendation to increase adjudicative authority of NCAA to nail schools for academic fraud or misconduct by member institutions.
    1. This is a direct response to the Committee on Infractions noting they did not have the jurisdiction to punish UNC because classes were offered to the entire student body.

Section III: Mitigating Non-Scholastic Basketball’s Harmful Influence on College Basketball

  1. Reform non-scholastic basketball and make its finances transparent
    1. NCAA must take better care when deciding which events to sponsor.
  2. Enlist the apparel companies in transparency and accountability efforts
    1. Good luck!
  3. In cooperation with partners, establish NCAA Youth Basketball Programs
    1. Begin NCAA-administered regional non-scholastic basketball events in July that NCAA coaches would exclusively attend
  1. Enact changes in rules governing recruiting and coaches’ interaction with recruits and student-athletes.

Section IV: Add a significant cadre of public members to the NCAA Board of Governors

  1. Recommendation that NCAA add at least 5 public members to the Board of Governors, with one of these members also serving on the NCAA’s Executive Board.

In Sum (as stated in the conclusion to the executive summary): “The NCAA has often failed to carry out its responsibilities to ‘maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body.’ NCAA Constitution 1.3.1 (Basic Purpose). But, the NCAA is not really Indianapolis: It is the sum total of its member institutions. When those institutions and those responsible for leading them short-circuit rules, ethics and norms in order to achieve on-court success, they alone are responsible. Too often, these individuals hide behind the NCAA when they are the ones most responsible for the degraded state of intercollegiate athletics, in general, and college basketball in particular. The Commission makes these recommendations to support fulfillment of the NCAA’s purposes and to impose accountability on institutions and individuals undermining their achievement.”

Translation: Hey, America, it’s NOT our fault, because our system is rock solid. If you want someone to blame, look at all the other bad guysthe NBA, the Apparel Companies, the AAU, the agents, the head coaches, assistant coaches, and college presidents who have refused to police their people. We didn’t have the authority to punish UNC before.

Take: If you’re looking for reform, don’t expect the NCAA to do it. They have doubled down on their system because they believe themselves to be untouchable. In the end, this commission turned out to be a PR stunt to save face, when in the end–Hey, NCAA, This is Your Fault

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