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Volume 25 No. 64

Colleges

Proposals to change the hoops landscape could be made at the NCAA D-I BOD August meeting
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Univ. of Minnesota President and NCAA D-I BOD Chair Eric Kaler said he does not believe the recommendations released by the Commission on College Basketball "fell short in any dimension" and if "taken together they will in fact move the dial on health of men's basketball," according to Marcus Fuller of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The NCAA D-I BOD "already has agreed to move forward in creating legislation." Various subgroups were "given assignments to turn the commission's ideas into proposals to consider during the board's Aug. 8 meeting." Kaler: "With the goal of getting as many of the reforms as possible by the first-tip-off of the basketball season of the fall of 2018. So we're moving on this very, very quickly" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/26). In Lexington, Jerry Tipton notes Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart "issued a statement of support" for the commission's recommendations, while SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey "issued a similar statement." Sankey said, "While the report and recommendations won't solve all of our challenges overnight, this represents an important step in a process to restore confidence in this great sport." Meanwhile, Duke AD Kevin White said the commission's "valuable insight and recommendations provide a starting point [for] a blueprint so to speak, for the future of college basketball" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 4/26). Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "We are particularly pleased that many of the Rice Commission's recommendations parallel those of the Pac-12 Task Force" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/26).

FIRST PIECE OF THE PUZZLE: VCU AD Ed McLaughlin said that the "general reaction to the report is that it's about time and it's a good first step." McLaughlin: "There's a lot of pieces there, but I think it's the right framework in terms of we're willing to go as far as we need to (go) to make the sport look what we want it to look like rather than what it's become." Richmond AD John Hardt said he believes a "lot of us long-time NCAA veterans" look at the recommendations as a necessary step (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 4/26).

IT'S A START: In DC, Sally Jenkins writes the commission's report is "by no means a perfect document." But it has the "virtue of marrying deep, sincere esteem for college athletes to concreteness and clarity." Critics "fault it for stopping short of recommending pay for athletes, or they seem to have expected something more radical." Jenkins: "But I have a feeling over time it will come to be seen as a valuable starting point." Condoleezza Rice's report "doesn't get everything right, but her overall emphasis is right on target" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/26). FS1's Jason Whitlock said he wanted a recommendation to "end amateurism, but I guess that's not what they are paying Condoleezza Rice for." Whitlock: "They are paying for her name and her brand and she did a nice job here protecting amateurs. Good for her" ("Speak For Yourself," FS1, 4/25). In Greensboro, Ed Hardin writes some of the recommendations "sound like the commission wanted to put the NCAA back in NCAA basketball." But "at least it's a start." Hardin: "Now comes the hard part" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 4/26). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes it would be "fun to dump all over" the commission's recommendations, but it "wouldn't be completely fair." The report "contained more than a few good, if wildly overdue, recommendations." Gay: "But let's acknowledge what it is: mild progress" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/26). ESPN's Mike Wilbon said in regards to the recommendations, there has to be a "conversation and the conversation cannot just be among like-minded people with a greater interest in college basketball." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "There are very many well meaning people who put these things together and nothing really changes" ("PTI," ESPN, 4/25).

Rice said her team hopes the recommendations will be legislated by the NCAA by August
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Condoleezza Rice said the Commission on College Basketball wanted wanted its 60-page report detailing recommendations to the NCAA to say there is a "value proposition at the heart of the collegiate model that is different from the professional model," according to a Q&A with Seth Davis of THE ATHLETIC. Rice said, "That value proposition is, you get to play. You get to hone your sport." She added, "The other half of the value proposition, though, is that that college degree really has to be a college degree, so no more fraudulent courses. No more fraudulent majors just to keep people eligible." Rice, asked why the commission passed on dealing with the issue of college athletes receiving payments for use of their names, images and likenesses, said, "People are inflating what this probably will look like, but the reason it’s not in the report is these are recommendations we hope the NCAA is going to legislate by August, and with the legal framework uncertain they really can’t legislate on NIL." On what her vision for the NIL matter would be, Rice said, "I don’t have a vision. I have a personal hope that there will be room for something like this, but it’s going to have to be carefully designed and it’s going to have to be designed within the legal parameters that are going to come out of the cases that are being heard." On whether the commission is advocating for zero involvement from shoe companies, Rice said, "We’re not advocating for that. The first thing we’re arguing is they are public companies. We want to be sure that boards of directors are sufficiently aware of the need to track the money" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/25).

MONEY MATTERS: ESPN's Jalen Rose said of allowing players to be in contact with agents, "That is basically happening anyway so you might a well allow it to happen, sort of like gambling." Rose also said the players "should be compensated, they should be able to make money off their likeness" and if this is "not being discussed ... that's a miss in my opinion." ESPN's David Jacoby: "Somewhere there's somebody that read the entire 60-page report and is like, 'Where is page 61 where we talk about the money?'" ("Jalen & Jacoby," ESPN2, 4/25).

WORK TO DO: USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes the Rice commission's "attempt to attack college basketball’s problems amounts to little more than a lost opportunity and a quixotic mission to maintain a dying college sports model that the public no longer hungers to preserve." That is "not to suggest Rice’s group whiffed completely." There are a "handful of good, common sense suggestions that numerous people around the sport have long been clamoring for." However, none of them were "worthy of a seven-month examination into the culture of college basketball." It "didn’t ever get to the real reason: No matter how you regulate it, or how badly you try to cut people out of it, money always flows downhill." As long as the "quickest way to multimillion-dollar coaching contracts is to obtain the best players available, which keeps tickets sold and boosters engaged, there’s going to be a value created around athletes that far exceeds the value of the scholarship" (USA TODAY, 4/26). THE ATHLETIC's Davis wrote under the header, "The Commission On College Basketball Has Some Good Ideas. Bold? Not So Much." Davis: "These are all good ideas. Really, really good ideas." But it is "what the commission is not recommending that dominated the public reaction." In many ways, the report was "indeed a landmark day." The commission’s "ideas are good." Progress is "being made." Change is "on the way." But the "essential nature of college basketball, the basic fundamentals of how the sport operates, remain intact" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/25).

CALL LIKE IT IS: ESPN's Jay Bilas said there were "some very good recommendations" in the report. However, Bilas said, "It did not address, in my judgement, the most important aspect of college basketball and college sports in general and that is the amateurism piece. It basically doubled down on what they call the 'collegiate model' and said that college basketball was somehow separate from professional basketball when it's really a professional endeavor in every way, shape or form." He added, "I was surprised at some of the moralizing that was done, sort of the idea that the college degree is the most valuable thing on the planet." Bilas said college athletics is "not going to move in the best direction because we're not admitting what this is, that it's a multi-billion dollar business and that the players are precluded from participating in the business at any reasonable level" ("OTL," ESPN, 4/25). 

MISSED THE MARK: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes under the header, "Rice Commission Airballs On Real Reform, Doubles Down On NCAA's Basketball Flaws." The report offered "no real reform." It was just another "attempt to concentrate and retain control over collegiate athletics, and in this specific case basketball, in the hands of a privileged few, allowing them to make as much money off the backs of college basketball players as they can" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 4/26). In Chicago, Shannon Ryan writes the report was "mostly an acknowledgment of the messiness that is college basketball." Some recommendations "are bold." However, the "most crucial matters that affect the sport were addressed vaguely or are unrealistic." Most of what Rice laid out would "not have prevented the corruption that led to the commission's creation" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/26). ESPN.com's Borzello, Givony & Medcalf wrote under the header, "Tough Talk On Corruption, One-And-Done, But Commission Misses The Mark" (ESPN.com, 4/25). SI.com's Dan Greene wrote under the header, "Rice Commission's Recommendations Miss The Point Of College Basketball's Real Problems" (SI.com, 4/25). In Indianapolis, Zach Osterman writes, "The NCAA called on a commission, not an iron hand." Some of the recommendations "make sense." It is just that "too many more aren’t feasible" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/26).