NCAA Chooses Condoleezza Rice to Lead Commission to Stop Corruption in College Basketball

Posted: October 13, 2017 in AVC Men's Basketball

NCAA Creates Commission to Revamp College Basketball

The new body, to be headed by Condoleezza Rice, will consider “substantive changes” to the game in the wake of a federal corruption probe.

money changeing hands

The NCAA is creating a new commission to study major changes to the way the sport operates, the result of an ongoing federal corruption probe that was revealed last month. Photo: Matt Slocum/Associated Press
By Andrew Beaton

Oct. 11, 2017 3:26 p.m.. In response to a federal probe alleging widespread corruption in college basketball, NCAA president Mark Emmert said Wednesday he has formed a commission to consider “substantive changes” to the way the sport operates.

Among the areas the commission will explore are the sport’s relationship with apparel companies and the so-called “one and done” rule in which players can leave for the pros after a single year of college basketball.

This announcement comes more than two weeks after federal prosecutors outlined bribery, kickback and other allegations involving some of the most prominent college basketball programs in the country, Adidas executives and others. Ten people were arrested, and several of those individuals appeared in a New York court for the first time Tuesday.

The announcement of the commission is the NCAA’s first significant response to a scandal it didn’t see coming. The day the charges were unsealed, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan said the NCAA wasn’t aware of the investigation until it was announced.
Now the NCAA’s committee, chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, will study the fundamentals of the basketball operation under which the alleged widespread corruption took place.

The scandal already took down one of the sport’s most storied coaches, Rick Pitino, who was not specifically named but was ousted from Louisville after his alleged involvement in funneling money to secure a top recruit. Pitino remains on leave from the university and has denied wrongdoing.

“While I believe the vast majority of coaches follow the rules, the culture of silence in college basketball enables bad actors, and we need them out of the game,” Emmert said in a statement. “We must take decisive action. This is not a time for half-measures or incremental change.”

The committee will examine the areas that led to the misdeeds alleged in the criminal charges. That includes the roles for apparel companies, prep teams, agents and financial advisers within the game. Some advisers and coaches have allegedly profited through schemes to funnel players to specific colleges, while prep teams and apparel companies have gained outsize influence over the careers of promising young players, who don’t get paid under existing NCAA rules.

One potential challenge for the commission is that not all of the issues are within the NCAA’s purview. For example, the “one and done” issue stems from a National Basketball Association rule requiring players to be at least one year removed from high school in order to enter the draft. That has resulted in a bevy of top players using college basketball as a brief pit stop on their way to the pros—in June’s NBA draft, the top seven picks were all college freshmen—but it is not exactly clear what power the NCAA has to force a change.

Many college coaches have suggested that the NBA get rid of the rule altogether or perhaps raise the age minimum another year. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has previously said the league is open to potential changes.  In announcing the commission, Emmert said it would begin work in November and deliver its recommendations in April.

Write to Andrew Beaton at andrew.beaton@wsj.com
Appeared in the October 12, 2017, print edition as ‘NCAA Seeks Revamp to System.’

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