What’s next for NCAA hoops?

Rome News-Tribune - - SPORTS - By Ben Nuck­ols

WASH­ING­TON — Ma­jor changes are needed in col­lege bas­ket­ball be­fore the 2018-19 sea­son to show the pub­lic that the NCAA is ca­pa­ble of gov­ern­ing the sport in the wake of a bribery scan­dal, NCAA Pres­i­dent Mark Em­mert said Mon­day.

Em­mert’s com­ments at a meet­ing of the Knight Com­mis­sion on In­ter­col­le­giate Ath­let­ics were his most ex­ten­sive since fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors in New York ac­cused coaches, fi­nan­cial man­agers and an Adi­das ex­ec­u­tive of us­ing bribes to in­flu­ence ath­letes’ choices of schools, shoe spon­sors and agents. The rev­e­la­tions de­tailed in court doc­u­ments led to the fir­ing of Louisville coach Rick Pitino and ath­letic di­rec­tor Tom Jurich.

The NCAA this month cre­ated a com­mis­sion chaired by for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice to study col­lege bas­ket­ball and rec­om­mend changes. The panel will be­gin its work next month and make rec­om­men­da­tions by April.

“We can­not go to the next bas­ket­ball sea­son with­out see­ing fun­da­men­tal change in the way col­lege bas­ket­ball is op­er­ated,” Em­mert said. “The pub­lic doesn’t have suf­fi­cient con­fi­dence in any of us in terms of our abil­ity to re­solve th­ese is­sues.”

Fol­low­ing Em­mert’s com­ments,

Knight Com­mis­sion cochairs Arne Dun­can and Carol Cartwright out­lined what some of those re­forms could be: reg­u­la­tions for non­scholas­tic youth bas­ket­ball; greater en­force­ment pow­ers for the NCAA, in­clud­ing pos­si­ble sub­poena pow­ers; a lim­ited an­titrust ex­emp­tion that would give the NCAA pro­tec­tion from law­suits in ex­change for some fed­eral con­trol; and al­low­ing ath­letes to ben­e­fit from the use of their names, im­ages and like­nesses.

“The sys­tem in place to­day was de­signed for a by­gone era,” said Dun­can, a for­mer Har­vard bas­ket­ball player who served as ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. “The le­git­i­macy, the in­tegrity and the rel­e­vancy of the NCAA is at stake.”

Bas­ket­ball is crit­i­cally im­por­tant to the NCAA be­cause

it gets most of its an­nual rev­enue — roughly $800 mil­lion — from tele­vi­sion rights fees for its men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment. The col­lege foot­ball play­offs, by con­trast, are not run by the NCAA.

A fail­ure to act, Em­mert said, could lead to the end of the NCAA as a gov­ern­ing body and a move to­ward a “Euro­pean model” un­der which foot­ball and bas­ket­ball are en­tirely pro­fes­sion­al­ized. That, he said, would have an un­de­sir­able rip­ple ef­fect upon other col­lege sports that are sub­si­dized by foot­ball and bas­ket­ball rev­enue.

Cit­ing in­ter­nal sur­veys, Em­mert also said the NCAA’s fail­ure to pun­ish North Carolina for aca­demic vi­o­la­tions was un­pop­u­lar, al­though he de­clined to crit­i­cize the in­frac­tions com­mit­tee that said it “could not

con­clude” the school com­mit­ted aca­demic vi­o­la­tions.

“Only a very small por­tion of Amer­i­cans be­lieves that was the right de­ci­sion,” Em­mert said. “That, too, eroded con­fi­dence in higher ed­u­ca­tion hold­ing it­self ac­count­able.”

Dun­can was more pointed in his com­ments about the North Carolina case, say­ing the NCAA was pre­vented by a “loop­hole” from pun­ish­ing the school.

Both Dun­can and Em­mert said they were con­cerned about the prospect of more charges in the bribery in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which is be­ing han­dled by prose­cu­tors from the South­ern District of New York.

“Whether it’s the tip of the ice­berg or whether it’s the whole ice­berg doesn’t re­ally mat­ter,” Em­mert said. “It’s dis­gust­ing as it is, and we’ve got to rec­og­nize that we own that.”

File, Matt York / The As­so­ci­ated Press

At a news con­fer­ence in Glen­dale, Ari­zona, NCAA Pres­i­dent Mark Em­mert said ma­jor changes are needed in col­lege bas­ket­ball be­fore next sea­son to prove that the NCAA is ca­pa­ble of gov­ern­ing the sport in the wake of a bribery scan­dal.

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