The Pac-12 announced the recommendations from its task force on Tuesday , and its report has been sent to the NCAA’s commission on college basketball, headed by former Secretary of State and Stanford University Provost Condoleezza Rice. The report could be a preview of the Rice commission’s work, as former Stanford and California basketball coach Mike Montgomery is a member of both the Pac-12’s taskforce and the NCAA’s commission. NCAA President Mark Emmert said the commission’s recommendations to the board of directors are expected in April .
The recommendations hit on the major issues identified by the NCAA where reform is needed in the wake of a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball.
Two Pac-12 schools have been in the middle of the scandal, with Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland and former Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson among those indicted on fraud charges.
“We want to be thought leaders,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. “The conference has always stood for trying to do things the right. Our presidents and chancellors have had a lot of influence on national policy in a lot of areas and wanted to be agents for change in trying to clean up some of the things in basketball that have been bothersome for some time but have now reached another level.”
Scott said the Pac-12 wanted its taskforce to align with the Rice commission and work in support of it.
“The reasons we have released our findings now is to fit into the timeline of Dr. Rice’s commission,” Scott said. “They’ve got about a month more of work and in conversations with her agreed that it would be really valuable to hear the Pac-12’s report and recommendations toward the end of their process but with enough time to evaluate and consider and decide what they want to include as part of their overall recommendation.”
Scott said he previewed the Pac-12’s report to the commission about three weeks ago in a meeting that included presentations by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey.
“I don’t have any visibility on what that commission is ultimately going to recommend, but I do know that many of the areas that we touched upon in our report are areas they are looking at and considering. I know there is some synergy,” Scott said. “I’m hopeful it will be supportive of the work they’re doing.”
The taskforce included former college coaches Ceal Barry from Colorado, Steve Lavin from UCLA and Mike Montgomery from Stanford and California; current athletic directors Dan Guerrero of UCLA and Chris Hill from Utah; former UCLA player and current Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers; former Stanford basketball players from Brevin Knight and Jennifer Azzi.
The task force called for an end to the NBA’s so-called one-and-done rule, which requires players be at least 19 years old and a year removed from high school graduation to be eligible for the draft. The NCAA has no power to change that rule beyond persuasion. Ultimately, the NBA and its players union decide on draft eligibility rules. But allowing players to keep their eligibility and return to school even after being drafted is within the NCAA’s control.
There is a similar rule in college baseball that allows players who don’t sign professional contracts to return to school after the draft.
Other recommendations include:
— Shifting control of the recruiting process away from independent tournaments run by athletic apparel and shoe companies to NCAA sponsored combines that allow access for college basketball coaches. The hope is to decrease the influence of third parties in the recruitment process. Relatedly, the Pac-12 recommended increasing the number of official visits high school players can make to colleges to five each in their junior and senior years.
— Full disclosure of contracts between coaches and universities and shoe and apparel companies.
— The creation of an independent enforcement unit to investigate some cases of major NCAA rules violations.
— Allow access to agents for high school players and provide NCAA-sponsored educational programs for prospective college athletes and their families.
The Pac-12 taskforce also looked beyond men’s basketball, specifically at football and women’s basketball, Scott said.
“The NCAA commission is solely focused on men’s basketball. We wanted to contribute to the process but look broader,” Scott said. “We’re concerned about some developments we see in football and women’s basketball that could mirror some of the issues we see in men’s basketball. We want to learn from that and be proactive and nip some of those things in the bud.”
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