Pac-12 suggests sweeping college basketball reforms

Commissioner Larry Scott gestures while speaking about the formation of a task force on recruitment issues during NCAA college basketball Pac-12 media day in San Francisco. Top leaders from the major profession

The Pac-12 report, endorsed unanimously by the presidents and chancellors of the conference's members, also recommended removing summer basketball programs from the purview of the apparel giants, three of whom - Nike, Adidas and Under Armour - now administer vast leagues that are ground zero for college recruiting, even as those companies also funnel billions of dollars in gear and cash to the college programs they sponsor. The group favors the elimination of the "one and done" rule, "tougher enforcement independent from the NCAA", and "sweeping changes" to recruiting rules. The group produced a 50-page report that was unanimously approved by the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors.

The report has been forwarded to the NCAA commission, headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which is expected to deliver its own report soon. The Anti-Defamation League's new Sports Leadership Council, chaired by Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott and also featuring key civil rights activists and women's sports advocates and representatives, held its first meeting last week in NY.

"I think what we wanted to accomplish is to get some more thinking into the national committee, tell them what we thought from our special committee and add it to at least things they would consider", Hill said.

"I'm encouraged that we're trying to make an effort" toward reform, Hill said.

"I don't have any visibility on what that commission is ultimately going to recommend, but I do know that numerous areas that we touched upon in our report are areas they are looking at and considering".

So far, 10 people have been charged in federal court, including former USC associate head coach Tony Bland and former assistants at Arizona, Auburn and Oklahoma State.

In releasing its report, the Pac-12 announced that the "proposed reforms, meant to improve compliance and reduce abuses associated with the influence of commercial third parties" break into four areas - NCAA eligibility, NCAA enforcement practices, recruitment practices and compliance education for prospective student-athletes and their families.

The Pac-12 formed its task force in October, enlisting UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero; former coaches Steve Lavin and Mike Montgomery; and former athletes Jennifer Azzi, Charles Davis and Brevin Knight, among others. Those who are not drafted would not be eligible for the draft again until following three years of college.

The task force called for the National Basketball Association to follow the model of major league baseball in its draft by allowing players to be selected directly out of high school. Major League Baseball's rule where young phenoms can do just that.

Another recommendation was to create an independent office to conduct NCAA investigations and determine major violations. It suggested that the investigative, adjudicative and punitive roles be separated. 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. The Pac-12 called for full disclosure of shoe/apparel deals for coaches and schools. The creation of "educational programs aimed at ensuring youngsters and their families don't - either through inadvertence or poor advice - squander their chances for a potentially life-changing scholarship".

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.

The Pac-12's task force also noted that university compliance programs could be strengthened and assist student-athletes from running "afoul of the rules". "They have produced bold, specific and actionable recommendations in a very short time", Scott added in the announcement.

With the NCAA considering widespread changes to college basketball, the Pac-12 Conference has issued a set of recommendations for overhauling a sport beset by scandal.

Members believe the college basketball product will become better if players are oriented more toward fundamentals and team play.

"It's not good for the N.B.A.to have some of their next-generation stars embroiled in controversies and having their reputations besmirched for integrity issues", Scott said. "I don't think there's really an option".

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