SBD/Issue 136/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NCAA, NBA Team In Rare Joint Effort To Enhance Youth Basketball

NBA, NCAA Partnering In
Effort To Overhaul Youth Basketball
The NBA and NCAA today will announce they have signed a five-year, $50M deal to launch a joint venture which will "develop programs to help assure that boys and girls get consistent, high-quality basketball training and education," according to Lombardo & Nethery of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The partnership "marks a new level in the relationship" between the two parties, which, "until a couple of years ago, had never sat down together." Duke Univ. men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski: "This is a historic deal. It's going to make basketball in our country better. That's the motivation. To help kids, but to make the game better." Lombardo & Nethery reports terms of the deal "call for each side to commit up to $15[M] in cash and another $20[M] in joint marketing investment." The first "visible sign of the new business will likely be a Web site launched for the 2008-09 season that will provide information and social networking for young players, teams, leagues and event organizers." However, the NCAA and NBA first need to hire a CEO and staff, as well as select a location for its HQs. NCAA President Myles Brand said that the HQs site "may be influenced ... by which technology company they partner with on their Web presence." Lombardo & Nethery note the joint venture "will go far beyond just a Web presence." There are plans for an "annual youth basketball congress, for coaching education and certification, for registering and training officials and for working with existing sanctioning organizations to establish national standards for competitive events" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/7 issue).

Stern Feels Partnership Makes
Good Social And Business Sense
MAKING BASKETBALL BETTER: NBA Commissioner David Stern said of the joint venture, "The more people that play basketball as kids, the better it is. And if that basketball stands for things that are good, the better that is for us. ... We're also a business organization, and we think this makes good social sense and good business sense." Brand added, "It's a transformational approach to basketball." Brand and Stern also indicated that the two organizations "are in the early stages of looking into standardizing the shot clock, lane dimensions and other guidelines and rules -- and perhaps melding them with those in the international game" (USA TODAY, 4/7). Brand: "I’m very pleased of the steps we’re taking now focusing on the challenges, but (also of) opening a wide range of joint efforts that are going to payoff for the players and it’s going to payoff for the fans too." Stern added, "The more we talk and the more time we spend together, we can do better working together than we can do it separately.” Brand said if this is a “successful initiative, you’ll see better organization on a national basis, better officiating, better coaching, better personal development, including advice. You’ll see more coordination between the shoe and apparel companies and the major players -- the NCAA and the NBA. ... It will not be perfect. Don’t raise the expectation that everything will be ideal. It won’t, but it will be far, far better than it is now” (CBS, 4/5).

NEW NBA AGE LIMIT? FOXSPORTS.com's Jeff Goodman reported Brand and Stern today also will announce a new agreement "that would make certain that players are in college for at least two years before leaving early for the NBA." Sources said that the proposal "would still need to be passed through" the NBPA. The NBA's current CBA, which includes its 19-year-old age limit, expires in 2010-11 (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/6). Stern said creating the current age limit was done "because the NBA deemed it in its best interest. The incidental benefit was -- I think -- to assist the NCAA game.” Brand asked, “David, wouldn’t it be better if they stayed two years?” Stern: “Yes, as a matter of fact, but it’s going to take us a few more (CBAs).” Stern added as “long as the players will agree to it, I think that will help professional and personal development of players and make them better NBA players” (CBS, 4/5). 

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