On Wednesday, April 25th, a Commission chaired by former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, released its recommendations to address corruption and fraud involved in NCAA men's basketball. NCAA president, Mark Emmert, asked Ms. Rice to lead the Commission after a bribery and fraud scandal in 2017 led to charges against 10 people connected with men's college basketball, including college coaches and athletic apparel company executives. The charges centered around a scheme among those charged to bribe basketball prospects in exchange for commitments to attend certain colleges.
While the recommendations in general address certain areas of concern and seem helpful on their surface, their practicality in terms of implementation and enforceability are not certain. These issues will need to be addressed quickly, particularly if, as reported, Mr. Emmert is aiming to make changes by the 2018 season.
Some of the Commission's more notable recommendations include:
- allowing regulated contact between athletes and agents to provide athletes with better information on their prospects as professionals;
- the imposition of transparency and accountability requirements and additional restrictions on the role of shoe and apparel companies at showcase and other scouting events;
- the elimination of the NBA age limit, known as the “one-and-done” rule, which requires players to be at least 19 years old or a year removed from high school to be eligible for the NBA draft; and
- increasing the severity of penalties for teams and coaches who violate rules to five year postseason bans for teams and lifetime bans for coaches.
While it is clear that no one rule change or new requirement will magically fix all of college basketball's problems, the combined recommendations could help eliminate or reduce some of the contributing factors, assuming the recommendations can be implemented successfully. In addition to the practical challenges and enforceability issues, certain recommendations require buy-in from non-NCAA organizations. For example, despite seemingly broad support for eliminating the “one-and-done” rule, the NBA alone must decide whether or not to eliminate the rule. Recent reports suggest that while the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are considering elimination of the “one-and-done” rule, it will not happen until the 2020 NBA Draft at the earliest. At the moment, we'll have to wait and see if the recommendations' practical issues can be addressed successfully and result in actual changes to the NCAA's legislative code before tip-off in 2018.