Chris Hill and other members of the Pac-12′s task force want basketball to become like baseball.
Eliminating the “one-and-done” option for men’s college basketball players — stemming from the NBA’s rule — is the primary recommendation in a 50-page report from a 12-member group that included Hill, the University of Utah’s longtime athletic director. The proposal would allow high school players to be drafted, while enabling them to retain eligibility if they choose not to sign with an NBA team. If they do attend college, they could be drafted only after three years, as in baseball.
The task force’s proposals were approved by Pac-12 presidents and chancellors and published Tuesday.
The changes would “preserve the essential attributes of the collegiate model,” the report said, “but provide a measure of of flexibility that could safeguard against cheating and reduce perceptions of unfairness.”
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott credited the group for suggesting “bold, specific and actionable” reforms that will require cooperation from the NCAA Commission, other conferences, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.
“I’m encouraged that we’re trying to make an effort” toward reform, Hill said. “The national committee is where the rubber meets the road. … I know some of those people and they’re bound and determined not to spend their time unless there’s something significant.”
The task’s forces five recommendations:
Moving away from one and done
The NBA would have to change its rule, which took effect in 2006, that draft-eligible players must be 19 years old or one year removed from high school. The task force included Bob Myers, general manager of the Golden State Warriors.
During the Pac-12 tournament last week in Las Vegas, Scott said, “I certainly believe college basketball would be healthier if it was reserved for students who value the education and are at the schools for three years.”
That stance is contrary to any perception that college administrators want elite-level players in their programs, even if only for one season. As for NBA personnel’s views, Scott said, “I think there are really many of them that really want what’s good for basketball overall.”
The task force also hopes “an enhanced G League” affiliated with the NBA or international leagues such as Australia’s become stronger options.
As Hill said, “If they don’t want to go to college, they should have an alternative.” In turn, he said, taking some NBA-ready players out of the process would reduce some incentive for college coaches to cheat in recruiting them.
The report suggests that a unit independent of the NCAA conduct investigations and pursue major violations. The ongoing FBI investigation into schools including Arizona and USC of the Pac-12 is “a bit of wake-up call to for many leaders in college sports that there needs to be more resources thrown at NCAA enforcement, higher caliber, maybe some outsourcing of what they do,” Scott said.
The task force wants to “ensure that the risks associated with serious violations are greater than the potential reward,” the report said.
This area was part of Hill’s focus. “The system’s broken; it’s antiquated,” he said. “There’s tremendous frustration in that.”
The task force wants to reduce the influence of “grassroots” groups, notably shoe companies, that stage youth tournaments in July. The proposal would not allow college coaches to attend those tournaments; instead, they would be involved in NCAA co-sponsored, regional combines that feature individual drills, skill development, coaching and education “differentiating it from the current, prevailing youth tournament model,” the report said.
Members believe the college basketball product will become better if players are oriented more toward fundamentals and team play. Scott’s motivation is “trying to get back to an education or scholastic-based environment for recruiting.”
The report also recommends allowing athletes to make five official campus visits during each of their junior and senior years, and for the funding of unofficial visits to be closely monitored, preventing third parties from being involved.
Shoe contract transparency
The report calls for “full disclosure of shoe and apparel contracts with coaches and schools.” That stems from the FBI’s allegations that former assistant coaches at Arizona and USC took money to steer their players to agents and shoe companies.
Beginning in their sophomore year, high school athletes would be educated about what’s ahead of them in programs that would include “access to professional guidance from agents,” the report said. That would help regulate agents’ pursuit of players and their families.