RALEIGH, N.C. – The Commission on College Basketball recommended to the NCAA sweeping changes to college basketball in response to a fraud and bribery scandal that has shaken the core of the sport.
Here's a look at the recommendations:
- Work with the NBA to lift the league's so-called one-and-done rule that requires players be at least 19 years old and a year removed from high school to be draft eligible.
- Allow players to enter the draft out of high school or after any college season, and to return to their school if they go undrafted.
- Create degree completion programs, with the NCAA paying for players to finish their degree if they complete at least two years of college.
- Create a vice presidential level position in the NCAA to oversee a program for certifying agents.
- Allow and encourage access to certified agents to high school and college players to help athletes and their families make more informed choices about professional opportunities.
- Create independent investigative and adjudicative body to address and resolve complex and serious cases involving NCAA violations.
- Impose stiffer penalties for serious rules violations to deter future rule-breakers, including: Increased competition penalties for Level I violations to allow a five-year post-season ban; increased financial penalties for Level I violations to allow loss of all revenue sharing in postseason play for the entire period of the ban; increased penalties for a show-cause order to allow lifetime bans; increased penalties for head coach restrictions to allow bans of more than one season; increased penalties for recruiting visit violations to allow full-year visit bans.
- Schools that employ a coach and administrator under a show-cause order from a previous school would be at risk to receive the harshest penalties if NCAA violations occur under that coach or administrator.
- Through their contracts, require coaches and athletic directors to comply with NCAA investigations.
- Require coaches, athletic directors and university presidents to certify annually they have conducted due diligence and their athletic programs comply with NCAA rules.
- Adopt and enforce rigorous criteria for so-called non-scholastic basketball, such as summer recruiting events and AAU leagues. Event owners, sponsors and coaches must agree to financial transparency.
- Ban college coaches from non-certified non-scholastic basketball events.
- Work with USA basketball and the NBA to create NCAA-run recruiting events in the summer.
- Work with USA Basketball and the NBA to evaluate pre-college players.
- Adopt recommended rule changes made by the National Association of Basketball Coaches that increase interaction between college coaches and recruits.
- Add five public members with full voting privileges to the NCAA Board of Governors, currently comprised of 16 university presidents.
Commission: Independent probes needed in complex NCAA cases
The Commission on College Basketball sees a "broken" NCAA enforcement process for handling complex, high-stakes cases.
And that's why a "prompt radical transformation" appeared among its reform proposals Wednesday amid a federal corruption investigation into the sport. The commission led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recommends creating a two-track system that outsources top-tier cases for independent professional investigation and resolution, strengthening penalties as deterrents, and clarifying the NCAA's role in policing academic issues.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Rice said the current system built around peer participation from member schools works in most cases. But it's those major multi-year cases, she said, where "the NCAA gets outgunned, people start lawyering up, they stop cooperating.
"And the NCAA is left in a situation where it has responsibility but it doesn't have authority," she said.
If adopted, stepped-up penalties include a five-year postseason ban with the loss of postseason revenue sharing for Level I violations. It would also allow lifetime bans on show-case orders against individuals and yearlong bans on visits for recruiting violations.
The commission is also pushing "individual accountability," such as requiring contracts for athletics officials to include cooperation with investigations and allow for NCAA discipline up to termination for violations. Meanwhile, college presidents, athletics directors and coaches would certify they have conducted annual "due diligence" to ensure rules compliance.
The commission also wants to improve the NCAA's ability to handle academic cases, an apparent nod to North Carolina's multi-year case that ended in October with the school receiving no penalties for irregular courses featuring significant athlete enrollments.
The infractions panel couldn't conclude there were violations because bylaws leave it to the schools themselves to determine academic fraud. UNC had argued the courses were legitimate -- though easy -- and benefited non-athletes, too.
"The rules must be amended to allow the NCAA to address all academic fraud and cheating to the extent it is used to corrupt athletic eligibility," the report states. "Member institutions should not be able to shield academic fraud to ensure athletic eligibility by extending that fraud to the entire student body."
WHY IT COULD WORK: While lower-profile cases would continue in the current system, the complex-case structure would essentially replace volunteers with paid professionals such as lawyers, arbitrators or retired judges serving for five years and using arbitration rules in a more efficient and effective operation that avoids allowing cases to drag on for years.
WHY IT WOULDN'T WORK: The commission recommends a start-fresh approach that ignores case precedent to assess penalties with "deterrence in mind," which would create uncertainty. There's the question of whether member schools will approve heavy penalties such as five-year postseason bans or forfeited revenue sharing, as well as contractual provisions allowing NCAA discipline to include the termination of officials for violations. And will schools reach agreement on more NCAA academic authority when they've long rejected anything approaching the governing body evaluating the rigor of courses?
WHY IT'S KEY TO THE SCANDAL: Any broad effort to update rules such as agent conduct will require an enforcement system better equipped to handle complex and long-running cases.