When the FBI’s probe into college basketball turned the sport on its head last fall, NCAA president Mark Emmert promised “significant changes” were on the way. This is the week we find out what those changes are going to look like.
In October, Emmert announced the formation of the Commission on College Basketball, a group of 14 individuals hand-picked to spend months examining the DNA of the sport and then return with a handful of suggestions on how to better college hoops.
With the world being on the verge of seeing these suggestions for the first time, let’s talk about how this process work, what is likely to be suggested, and if or how college basketball is going to be altered by all this.
Who are the 14 people on the commission?
As has been widely reported, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is serving as chair of the commission. The other members are Emmert, Grant Hill, David Robinson, John Thompson III, Mike Montgomery, Mary Sue Coleman (president of the Association of American Universities), General Martin E. Dempsey (chairman of USA Basketball), Jeremy Foley (former Florida athletic director and current Florida athletic director emeritus), Jeffrey Hathaway (Hofsta athletic director), Rev. John I. Jenkins (Notre Dame president), Bud Peterson (Georgia Tech president), Kathryn Ruemmler (former White House counsel), and Gene Smith (Ohio State athletic director).
What have these people been doing for the last six months?
When the commission was announced, it was stated the members would primarily be focusing on three areas of importance:
1) The relationship of the NCAA national office, member institutions, student-athletes, and coaches with outside entities (shoe companies, agents, and AAU leagues).
2) The NCAA’s relationship with the NBA.
3) Creating the right relationship between the universities and colleges of the NCAA and its national office to promote transparency and accountability.
The commission began their research into all three areas in November, and is now set to serve up its findings and recommendations.
So when is this all going down?
The commission is set to present its recommendations to the NCAA Board of Governors and the Division I Board of Directors Wednesday, April 25.
Is there a way for me to follow the release?
Yep. The presentation will be streamed live on the official NCAA Twitter feed (twitter.com/ncaa) and YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/ncaa). The Commission’s report will be available at 8 a.m. EDT at basketballcommission.org.
Do we have any idea what’s likely to be recommended here?
Not really. Emmert — an ex officio member of the commission — said himself last Friday that he wasn’t sure what recommendations the commission will propose.
The safest bet is that the commission will produce some sort of recommendation of change for the NBA’s so-called “one and done” rule. What that recommendation entails is anyone’s guess, but it’s likely to be one of the two or three proposals (go to a version of the baseball model or do away with the rule entirely) that everyone under the sun has seemingly been clamoring for since the rule first became a reality a little over a decade ago. Some have also suggested that the committee might explore the idea of underclassmen being able to declare for the draft but retain their collegiate eligibility if they don’t wind up being selected.
While the one and done stuff is certain to capture headlines, the more interesting part of all this may be how the commission addresses issues like agents, shoe companies, and AAU basketball. These are problems that have been around for decades now, but mere acknowledgements of their collective standing as an issue have always heavily outweighed proposed solutions to the headaches. Assuming the commission alters that trend this week, the change will be a welcome one.
The issue of paying players is also likely to come up in some form. Since that issue would seem to touch not just college basketball but every sport under the NCAA’s umbrella, it’ll be interesting to see how far the commission is willing to tread. With Emmert already being an outspoken opponent of paying players, it seems unlikely any suggestion presented by the commission with regards to the issue will be revolutionary. The safer bet is that the commission will deal more with the players’ relationships with agents and the potential of them making money off their likeness through jersey sales and things of that nature. Expect to hear the “Olympic model” brought up multiple times.
So is anything really going to change because of this?
Will there be changes based off the suggestions presented by the commission? Almost certainly. Will those changes be enough to alter the sport in any easily identifiable way? We’ll have to wait and see.
The commission’s suggestions aren’t going to be rubber stamped, but Emmert has stated multiple times in recent months that he had to convince every member that this wouldn’t just be window dressing.
“Just to be blunt about it, you don’t waste Condoleezza Rice’s time if you’re not serious about it,” Emmert said last Friday.
The NCAA would need the help of the NBA and its players association to collectively bargain any change to the one and done rule. Any significant overhaul to the current structure of grassroots basketball leagues or apparel companies and their relationships with NCAA institutions would also require significant assistance.
If nothing else, the commission’s suggestions seem likely to give us at least a few tweaks to a current system that most agree is in desperate need of tweaking. It also could serve as a jumping off point for a broader dialogue that results in more sweeping changes for a sport that finds itself in a position where sweeping change seems to be its only option.