INDIANAPOLIS -- In response to an FBI probe that rocked college basketball, the NCAA approved several significant rules and policy changes on Wednesday.
The most notable changes include allowing elite high school basketball players and recruits to be represented by NCAA-certified agents; underclassmen who participate in the NBA Combine and go undrafted can return to school; coaches will have to abide by more stringent certification requirements for summer basketball events; and there will be greater consequences for coaches and administrators who break rules.
The recommendations were initially proposed by a committee chaired by Condoleezza Rice and approved by the NCAA Board of Governors and NCAA Division I Counsel.
“I couldn’t be more pleased at the outcome,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said during a conference call with reporters. “They’re aimed in general at eliminating some of the corrosive influences that we’ve seen in college basketball that the federal investigation highlighted.
“We’re trying to strengthen the integrity of the game and strengthen the accountability of all of us that work inside the game. At the same time, provide student athletes with much more flexibility and freedom about their decisions.”
During a conference call with reporters, Emmert explained some of the more significant changes in more detail:
NBA DRAFT: The rule which allows players to return to school if they go undrafted will be very limited in scope. It’s possible no players take advantage of it this year. In order to qualify, basketball players must declare for the draft, request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee and earn an invite to the NBA Draft Combine.
Additionally, Division I schools will be required to pay tuition, fees and books for basketball players who leave school and return later to the same school to earn their degree.
AGENTS: College players can sign with NCAA-certified agents, but only once their seasons are complete. The agent can provide limited financial support, including meals and lodging during the pre-draft process. Should the athlete choose to return to school, he must end the business relationship with the agent.
A select group of elite high school players identified by USA Basketball can also take advantage of the new rule. They will be permitted to sign beginning July 1 prior to their senior year.
ENFORCEMENT: NCAA presidents, chancellors and athletics staff will now be contractually required to cooperate with all future investigations. The NCAA does not have subpoena power, but in a sense, this gives the NCAA a way to mandate cooperation. Also, school presidents and chancellors will be held personally accountable for athletic departments abiding by the rules.
RECRUITING: The recruiting calendar has been significantly overhauled in an attempt to limit outside influences. Coaches will be permitted to attend more high school-sponsored events. But the new rules limit their ability to attend AAU and other summer events. Coaches can attend the NBA Players Association Top 100 camp in June and two more major events that month. Four-day recruiting periods were also tacked onto April.
Also, rules have been changed for official visits. Previously, college basketball prospects were permitted to take only five official visits. That number has tripled to 15 official visits. Prospects can begin making official visits on Aug. 1 before their junior year of high school.
SHOE COMPANIES: The NCAA Board of Governors is in the process of developing agreements that require apparel companies to make annual disclosures, obtain NCAA certification for all youth basketball activities and report potential NCAA rule violations. Additionally, parties should formalize relationships in areas where interests overlap, such as playing rules and equipment standards.