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Study a good step in battling NCAA fraud

By: Wally Hall
Published: Sunday, April 29, 2018
College basketball spent an entire season operating amid a federal corruption investigation that magnified long-simmering problems within the sport, from unethical agent conduct to concerns over the "one-and-done" model. Now it’s time to hear new ideas on how to fix them. On Wednesday morning, April 25, 2018, the commission headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will present its proposed reforms to university presidents of the NCAA Board of Governors and the Division I Board of Directors at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. And that starts what could be a complicated process in getting changes adopted and implemented in time for next season. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
College basketball spent an entire season operating amid a federal corruption investigation that magnified long-simmering problems within the sport, from unethical agent conduct to concerns over the "one-and-done" model. Now it’s time to hear new ideas on how to fix them. On Wednesday morning, April 25, 2018, the commission headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will present its proposed reforms to university presidents of the NCAA Board of Governors and the Division I Board of Directors at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. And that starts what could be a complicated process in getting changes adopted and implemented in time for next season. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Last week there were ripples across the landscape of college basketball when the Commission on College Basketball revealed findings of its six-month study and laid it at the feet of the NCAA to wake up and take control of one of its sports.

The commission was formed in the wake of an FBI investigation into college basketball that led to the firing of five coaches, including former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.

Pitino was the biggest name fired, and he's fighting the claim he knew anything about a Cardinal sin in which a late signee had been paid $100,000 by a shoe company to attend Louisville.

Pitino can fight until his hair plugs fall out but this was an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These are the guys who took down Al Capone and thousands of others.

Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, was asked to serve on the commission. It raised eyebrows when she was named to the first selection committee for the College Football Playoff, but she has proven her intelligence and common sense are positives on any committee.

Last week, she said concerns start with one-and-dones, a practice that once appeared to be the specialty of Kentucky's John Calipari -- started when he was at Memphis -- but in recent years Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Bill Self of Kansas and others have embraced the players who are doing their one year of mandatory college before turning pro.

The committee wants the NBA to change its rule of accepting players after one year of college. It is an NBA rule, not the NCAA.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said he believed the NBA would listen.

"One-and-done has to go one way or another," Rice said.

In other words, if the NBA doesn't cooperate conferences will make their own rules.

The commission recommended harsher penalties for rule-breakers, including a Level I violation meaning five years of no postseason play instead of one. It also suggested the NCAA outsource investigations to professional, unbiased investigators.

The commission proposed that the NCAA create a program for certifying agents, and allowing athletes to have contact with those agents because the players were going to talk to them anyway.

The commission wants the NCAA to stop sanctioning summer leagues and tournaments, and run its own recruiting events. The NCAA would need several extra million dollars do that, but it led to the fourth subject.

The commission called for greater financial transparency from shoe and apparel companies. Adidas had two former executives charged by federal prosecutors in New York in the corruption case.

It also called for administrators at schools to be involved and certify annually that their programs have complied with NCAA rules. That wasn't already a rule?

All of this sounds great. Late, but great.

A panel has been appointed to explore basketball changes, and Kansas' Self was one of two active coaches named to the panel. His school was named in the FBI investigation, although Self was not named by the FBI.

Many around the country think the committee and a panel are great ideas and stronger guidelines are needed, although others feel not enough was said about actual illegal payments to players and that all of this will turn out to be nothing more than lip service.

Know this: Many powerful people are going to watch how college basketball operates closely, and one of those is Condoleezza Rice, who is known for not tolerating bologna sandwiches.

Sports on 04/29/2018

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