Who’s in charge?
In the wake of the FBI sting that revealed the corrupt side of college basketball, many have renewed cries for a single person to oversee the game, someone who could bridge the grassroots, college and pro levels while also understanding the commercial side. Here are some of the candidates who would be fit to lead the game into a new era:
No one is more well-connected in the basketball world than the Big East commissioner. She knows the TV side, she knows the pro game, and at the college level, she has helped the conference re-establish itself as one of basketball’s elite leagues. Ackerman would be tireless in cultivating the relationships across the pro, college and grassroots levels.
The former Duke player and ESPN analyst has firmly established himself as a proponent for compensating players through a pro-like, open-market system. That might not sit well with college administrators, but his progressive thinking might appeal to the game’s next generation.
Smart, outside-the-box thinker who has touched almost every aspect of the game as a player, agent, attorney and iHoops administrator before the NCAA shuttered the grassroots program. Believes strongly in the integration of education and athletics, and would be a strong voice against the idea of paying players.
Currently runs the NCAA tournament and has the respect of coaches and administrators alike. Would be well-suited to oversee everything from summer recruiting rules to the game’s biggest event, while also serving as college basketball’s biggest cheerleader, just as Bill Hancock promotes college football.
The Duke coach has been the most influential figure in college basketball and his service as the coach for USA Basketball’s most elite teams only enhanced that status. It would be difficult to find someone more respected from the NBA down and his relationships across the shoe companies, the coaches and other stakeholders would benefit his oversight of the game.
One of ESPN’s highest-ranking executives has been an influential figure in the rights and programming of college sports for more than a decade. Was almost hired as president of IMG College four years ago. Another creative thinker who might come to college basketball with some radical ideas to promote the game.
In his days overseeing NCAA championships, Shaheen was tight with Adam Silver, he negotiated media deals, he was part of USA Basketball’s leadership and he had the trust of the coaches. Perhaps no one is more well-versed with all of the stakeholders in basketball who must be served.
The Ohio State athletic director played football in college, but don’t hold that against him. Smith is one of the most respected leaders in all of college sports, he’s chaired the men’s basketball committee and he’s currently on the NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball. He knows his way across the college landscape and inside the NCAA’s workings as well as anyone.