NCAA Takes Some Lumps From Independent Basketball Commission
Ashley Fowler contributed to this report.
INDIANAPOLIS--The NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, took some lumps in the report from the Independent Commission on College Basketball. Dr. Condeleeza Rice, former Secretary of State from the United States, and a member of the Commission, announced the recommendations Wednesday morning.
"It is time for coaches, athletic directors, University Presidents, Boards of Trustees, the NCAA leadership and staff, apparel companies, agents, pre-collegiate coaches – and yes – parents and athletes -- to accept their culpability in getting us to where we are today," said Rice.
The Commission was formed in October to look intio men's college basketball and the problems which have brought the program as a whole, according to the Commission's report, to the brink of extinction.
What the report said
The report said college basketball is rampant with corruption and cheating, that the high financial stakes, including the sales of team gear and apparel, have fueled a culture that supports high competition that is not just between teams, but between coaches to keep their jobs. And, that encourages unscrupulous recruiting practices.
And, what it all boils down to, is that the focus is no longer on a good education for athletes.
The commission's reports said the NCAA's investigative process for rule violations were created at a time when the financial stakes were not as high. The processes are outdated and there is room for corruption.
"The NCAA should create independent investigative and adjudicative arms to address and resolve complex and serious cases involving violation of NCAA rules. As of now, volunteers who are members of fellow NCAA member institutions resolve these cases, and during our Commission testimony not a single stakeholder supported the current system for handling high-stakes infractions," said Rice.
"Today’s current state where an entire community knows of significant rule breaking and yet the governance body lacks the power or will to investigate and act breeds cynicism and contempt."
To restore credibility
Rice said to restore credibility the investigation, enforcement and resolution of high stakes cases must be placed in the hands of independent professionals. A panel of professional adjudicators, appointed for a term of years, must make final and binding decisions and must have the authority to impose substantial punishments, including the loss of post-season play and the revenues from post-season play, she said.
The Commission recommends harsher penalties for coaches and athletic directors who re-offend. It also recommends a higher level of accountability for individuals who violate the rules and a closer watch and stiff punishments for academic fraud.
And, to return the focus to education, Rice addressed NBA draft practices that may cause student athletes to end their college careers early.
"We must separate the collegiate track from the professional track by ending one-and-done. We call on the NBA and the NBPA, who exclusively have the power here, to once again make 18-year-olds eligible for the NBA draft so that high school players who are drafted may proceed directly to the NBA. Should the NBA and NBPA decide not to do so – the Commission will reconvene and consider other measures, including freshman ineligibility and/or the “lock-up” of scholarships for a specified period of time."
The "one-and-done" rule allows only people who are 19 and older to be drafted into the NBA, which leads many athletes to complete only one year of college.
Only 1.2 percent make it to the NBA
Rice said the commission recommends the NCAA do a better job of educating student athletes on possible outcomes, since only 1.2 percent of college players make it to the NBA. She also addressed the issue of paying players, saying the legal ramifications are still unclear.
"Personally, I hope that there will be more room in the college model today for this kind of benefit to students without endangering the college model itself," she said.
Notre Dame president and NCAA react
Father John L. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame University, itself a recent recipient of NCAA penalties, said he's glad the Commission is bent on returning the focus of the program to a good college education.
“With its recommendations today, the commission seeks to sound the death knell of the educational sham that is ‘one and done,’ restore integrity to the game and otherwise remind us that a college’s first obligation to its athletes is a good education.”
Jenkins is also a member of the Commission.
The NCAA said it would take the recommendations under consideration.
While the report does say the recommendations will put focus on education, it also says that culpability in flawed leadership on the parts of every entity involved, must be addressed to solve problems and save men's college basketball. And, that will take time.
PHOTO: by Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport