The Indianapolis-based NCAA has announced what it says are "profound and meaningful changes" to the rules governing college basketball that it says will focus on supporting student-athletes "over every other factor." The adjustments follow incidents — including FBI-investigated corruption allegations tied to some high-profile programs and coaches — that prompted actions to "restore the integrity" of the game.
The changes include: "more freedom and flexibility" for athletes who choose to play professionally and a scholarship system for those who want to finish degrees later; measures to "minimize the leverage of harmful outside influences on high school recruits and college student-athletes"; develop more "efficient and binding" NCAA investigation and infraction processes and set up stronger consequences for violators; use independent investigators and decision-makers for the rules enforcement process; and "add public voices to the NCAA Board of Governors for fresh perspectives."
Last October, the NCAA launched a commission chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice designed to help eliminate "bad actors." The Commission on College Basketball’s recommendations, released in April, addressed stakeholders including NCAA member institutions, athletic directors, school administrators, players and coaches, as well as outside parties with influence like agents, apparel companies and sports organizations not connected to academia.
Wednesday’s statement from the NCAA reads:
This week, we delivered on a promise made just months ago to make profound and meaningful changes to college basketball. Ultimately, these decisions will support the success of student-athletes both on and off the court.
The NCAA Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors adopted a series of significant policy and legislative changes, setting in motion actions to change the structure of the NCAA fundamentally. These changes will promote integrity in the game, strengthen accountability and prioritize the interests of student-athletes over every other factor.
We remain committed to promoting fairness in college sports and creating an environment that will champion the success of student-athletes.
To that end, the changes we approved will:
- Provide college basketball players more freedom and flexibility to decide their future.
- Minimize the leverage of outside influences on high school recruits and college athletes.
- Add fresh perspective and independent judgment to NCAA decision-making at the highest level of policymaking and in investigations and case resolution.
- Strengthen accountability and deter future rule-breaking with harsher penalties for those who break the rules.
The NCAA and its member schools are part of the broader higher education community, and today’s actions renew our commitment to our core purpose – preparing students for a lifetime of opportunity.
Change doesn’t end here. We will continue to work in all of these areas and continue to pursue collaboration with outside organizations, including the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association, apparel companies and USA Basketball. If they are unwilling or unable to act, we will consider additional changes that will support the success of student-athletes. It’s on us to restore the integrity of college basketball and continue to improve the interests of all student-athletes. They deserve nothing less.
Mark Emmert, NCAA President
G.P. “Bud” Peterson, NCAA Board of Governors chair and Georgia Tech president
Eric Kaler, Division I Board of Directors chair and University of Minnesota, Twin Cities president