On Wednesday morning, the Commission on College Basketball, a 14-person committee headed by Condoleeza Rice, released a 60-page report containing recommendations to the NCAA to address concerns about the sport brought to light by the FBI investigation earlier this season.
The long awaited report was met with mixed reviews, with the major consensus appearing to be that the report “passes the buck” to other organizations, namely the NBA, the NBA Player’s Association, and, to a lesser extent, the shoe companies.
The commission spent a significant amount of time discussing the need to eliminate the one-and-done rule, all the while acknowledging that same is an NBA rule. The report calls upon the NBA/NBAPA to eliminate the restrictions that essentially force player’s to bide their time in the NCAA while waiting to enter the NBA draft.
Interestingly, the report suggests that, should the NBA/NBAPA not change the rule, the NCAA would look to implement it’s own changes, “such as making freshmen ineligible or locking a scholarship for three or four years if the recipient leaves a program after a single year.”
To be perfectly honest, those suggestions feel like empty threats by NCAA, who we know would never implement rules that would essentially drive the best players to the G-League in lieu of playing a year in college. Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, has long expressed support for potentially abolishing the NBA restrictions that have created “one-and-dones” and there have been rumblings that these changes are coming.
The report also calls for the NCAA to permit players that go un-drafted to return to school, provided that they return to the same school.
The rest of the report reads like a toothless Supreme Court decision, waxing poetic about a number of idealistic scenarios without fully providing any concrete ways by which to achieve them. The committee writes about NBA/USA Basketball sponsored recruiting events that would eliminate the need for seedy AAU/shoe company circuits. This sounds like a solid idea considering that, if the FBI investigation taught us anything, it’s that we need the NCAA involved in more things. The report suggests certifying agents, which would presumably create a more regulated/streamlined channel through which agents could create relationships with players. All of this is ********.
Finally, as regards the issue of paying players, the committee punted it in every sense of the word. Comments given by the committee in connection with the release of the report suggest that it was in opposition to schools directly compensating players, but, as regards the potential “compromise” of permitting the players to market their image through endorsements, play in “professional” off-season leagues, etc., the committee took no official stance.
My stance is that, yes, there are a number of external factors and influences that the NCAA cannot change, many of which directly impact how the NCAA does business. However, many of the processes and procedures of the NCAA permit these outside influences to have a disproportionate impact. For example, instead of acknowledging why shoe companies have such an impact on the sport (the farce of amateurism), the committee suggests that the NCAA just take over that market.
While I was skeptical that this report would bring about any real change, I was optimistic that, on paper, it would at least offer some practical changes the NCAA could implement to cut back on red-tape, make more reasonable decisions, and ultimately eliminate some of the incentives to skirt the rules. It does not.