NCAA Basketball: New Rule Changes Headline the Sport

Rodney K

It was a quiet week on the college basketball front. Oh, wait, except for the NCAA passing new rules about players and agents! Let’s check out that story and others you may have missed over the past week.

The Times They Are A Changing

Almost out of nowhere, the NCAA announced sweeping changes last week that will have a serious impact on both college basketball players and elite high school recruits. Among the most notable changes is allowing underclassmen who declare for the draft, go through the pre-draft process, and then go un-drafted to return to school. Previously, players would have had to withdraw their name 10 days after the end of the NBA Combine.

In a more drastic change, college athletes can now be represented by agents as long as they request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee. Those agents must be NBPA-certified and starting in 2020 they must be certified by the NCAA. Agents will then be able to pay for meals and transportation for both the players and their families while the player is selecting an agent and meeting with NBA teams. The NCAA also set forth a scenario in which elite high school players, as determined by USA Basketball, could also hire agents.

On the recruiting front, players will now be able to make 15 official visits as opposed to five previously. The caveat is that there are three distinct windows for those visits and they can make only five visits in each window. Players can also only visit a campus once per year during the recruitment process. Schools can now host up to 28 official visits over a two-year period, up from 24 previously. Service academies will now get 34 rather than 30.

Finally, college coaches and staff members must now tell their university about the income they receive from other sources that exceed $600. This could mean endorsement deals or consultant work with apparel companies. The NCAA is also working to find common ground with apparel companies to improve transparency on their influence on basketball. The hope is that these companies will then report NCAA violations and disclose information about their interactions with schools.

Oops, Didn’t See You Coming

As expected, there was a fair amount of fallout from the NCAA’s rule changes. In particular, both the NBA and USA Basketball said they were not expecting the NCAA to announce these changes. Both groups have met with the NCAA to discuss the issues addressed by the new rules. However, they did not appear to have reached any kind of agreement on how best to proceed before the NCAA went ahead and made the rule changes. The NBA was surprised because some of the rules imply the league will do away with the one-and-done rule. There are reasons that rule will be changed in the years to come but nothing is official, nor is anything likely to be official until 2022 or 2023.

The NCAA has since come out and acknowledged that they could have done a better job of letting the NBA and USA Basketball know about the announcement of rule changes last week. However, the NCAA insists that it has been communicating regularly with both the NBA and USA Basketball in trying to create rules that work for all parties.

Road To Recovery

The college basketball world got some surprising news last week when Michigan announced that coach John Beilein had undergone a two-vessel coronary bypass graft surgery on his heart. The news came as a surprise to many and will force Beilein to miss Michigan’s upcoming trip to Spain to play exhibition games. Interim coach Saddi Washington said a few days after the surgery that Beilein’s recovery was going well. While he will miss the trip to Spain, Beilein is expected to be back on the sidelines by the start of the 2018-19 season.

Big, Big Trouble

The other big news of the week in college basketball comes from Wake Forest assistant coach Jamill Jones, who has been placed on administrative leave after being charged with third-degree assault. The charges are connected to the death of Sandor Szabo, who died in New York City due to what the medical examiner called “blunt impact injury of head with brain injury.”

According to New York City police, Jones punched Szabo during a confrontation. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition and died last Tuesday after being taken off life support. Jones turned himself in to police two days later. He was arraigned and released and is due in court on October 2. According to his attorney, Jones is cooperating with authorities.