The NCAA, in the wake of news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was indicting people around payments to future college basketball players — discussed as fraud and wire transfer violations — created a Commission on College Basketball, which included the President of Notre Dame, two ex-players and now NBA retirees (Grant Hill and David Robinson), and chaired by college sports fan and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
The Commission on College Basketball has released its findings [see the SB Nation wrap up] and in short, they are mostly bits of hand-wringing. Essentially, there is no attempt to pay the players or allow players to benefit from their likenesses.
But there is a lot of talk of:
- harsher penalties on bad actors/ head coaches (but what about the assistants that make far less?)
- “eliminating” the one-and-done rule (which isn’t their rule, it’s the NBA’s decision; the NBA responds that they will continue to assess the draft rules in the best interest of the players and game, which is to say “good talk, we’re gonna do us over here.”)
- possibly allowing undrafted players to return to school (what about 2nd rounders? What about players who meet with teams about being a free agent/ summer league pickup?)
- creating an independent enforcement arm
- taking over summer league play (on all levels? Really?) with the assistance of USA Basketball & the NBA (more on this later)
- asking for more transparency from the shoe companies and where their money goes (hold on, have to stop guffawing)
- certifying agents to allow player access to them (how? Who pays for their time?)
Most of these ideas involve “someone else” doing the work, outside of harsher penalties on coaches.
Not that this group was going to change the amateurism model — in that case, why would the NCAA even need to exist? It could be a club system that is nominally attached to schools — but this Committee has essentially noted that the NCAA has no power to do anything but enforce amateurism.
We make some more specific notes in this Twitter thread. You may want to read this Yahoo piece about how the NCAA is playing the victim. We are sure there are some positive takes from people who are not paid by the NCAA directly (or from one of Dr. Rice’s colleagues at Stanford’s Hoover Institute), but we haven’t found them — please leave in comments if you do.
The idea with the sharpest teeth is the idea of taking over summer league play. Except that’s a big, big task. It’s also possibly wrong-headed.
First, did the NBA Players Association and NBA want this? Does US Basketball want this administrative nightmare, in a country where we can’t even craft a reasonable youth system for soccer, the world’s global sport where money is to be made all over the globe? Most of the players who play summer league really are of no concern; some go to Division II and Division III, others play in lower level Division I programs.
Second, does this mean that the investment in players is going to come from the NCAA? The NBA? The NCAA currently gets to receive the benefit of playing talent for the (inflated) cost of scholarship — of one more seat in their classrooms. The discussion about paying players or not often is a discussion of how the NCAA members don’t have the money for that... but they have the money for setting up a comprehensive summer league with as much access to players in live periods?
And third, what’s the problem here, exactly? Will the shoe companies have no contact with players or AAU programs? Are they even the villains, here, given that most players aren’t seeing $$ from their AAU games? Isn’t the beneficiary of these show company relationships... the high-end hoops colleges these kids are steered to?
Much ado about not much, but some changes are likely to come to NCAA basketball.
And they are likely to be cosmetic.