The recent news of a federal investigation into fraud in college basketball made it very clear the NCAA needs to make substantive changes to the way we operate, and do so quickly. Individuals who break the trust on which college sports is based have no place here. While I believe the vast majority of coaches follow the rules, the culture of silence in college basketball enables bad actors, and we need them out of the game. We must take decisive action. This is not a time for half-measures or incremental change.
Therefore, I have secured endorsement from the NCAA Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors to form a Commission on College Basketball, which Dr. Condoleezza Rice has agreed to chair, to work with me in examining critical aspects of a system that clearly is not working. The commission will be composed of leaders from higher education, college sports, government and the business world, as well as accomplished former student-athletes. Specifically, the commission will focus on three areas:
- The relationship of the NCAA national office, member institutions, student-athletes and coaches with outside entities, including:
- Apparel companies and other commercial entities, to establish an environment where they can support programs in a transparent way, but not become an inappropriate or distorting influence on the game, recruits or their families.
- Nonscholastic basketball, with a focus on the appropriate involvement of college coaches and others.
- Agents or advisors, with an emphasis on how students and their families can get legitimate advice without being taken advantage of, defrauded or risking their NCAA eligibility.
- The NCAA’s relationship with the NBA, and the challenging effect the NBA’s so-called “one and done” rule has had on college basketball, including how the NCAA can change its own eligibility rules to address that dynamic.
- Creating the right relationship between the universities and colleges of the NCAA and its national office to promote transparency and accountability. The commission will be asked to evaluate whether the appropriate degree of authority is vested in the current enforcement and eligibility processes, and whether the collaborative model provides the investigative tools, cultural incentives and structures to ensure exploitation and corruption cannot hide in college sports.
The commission will begin its work in November and will deliver its recommendations on legislative, policy and structural changes to the boards for action at their April meetings.
We need to do right by student-athletes. I believe we can — and we must — find a way to protect the integrity of college sports by addressing both sides of the coin: fairness and opportunity for college athletes, coupled with the enforcement capability to hold accountable those who undermine the standards of our community.