The NCAA said it will form a commission to study the inner workings of college basketball in response a federal investigation into bribery and fraud that rocked the sport and implicated several assistant coaches.
The NCAA announced the commission Wednesday and said former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will lead the committee.
“We need to do right by student-athletes,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “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.”
Emmert said the NCAA needs to quickly make “substantive changes” in the way it operates. He said the changes will focus on the relationships between the NCAA, schools, athletes and coaches with outside entities like shoe companies, agents and financial managers. He said the committee will also examine the effects of the so-called “one and done” rule that prompts players on a pro track to play in college for one season, as well as college basketball’s broad relationship with the NBA.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he’s been saying change is overdue for about 10 years. He said young basketball players are playing too many games in the summer, when they have contact from too many people outside of their inner circles.
“My only piece of advice, don’t let the process ruin you because we will. I blame myself,” Izzo said. “And keep your group small, whatever that is, keep it small. You’ve been raised by Mom and Dad for 17 years and things are OK. … They’ve done a pretty good job because you’re eligible in school and you can become a big-time basketball player. Why all of a sudden do we need 20 other people coming into your world?”
The commission will begin its work in November and deliver its recommendations on legislative, policy and structural changes by April. Other members of the commission include Association of American Universities president Mary Sue Coleman, Florida athletic director emeritus Jeremy Foley, Hofstra athletic director Jeffrey Hathaway, Atlanta Hawks owner/vice chairman Grant Hill, USA Basketball chairman General Martin Dempsey, Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins, retired basketball coach Mike Montgomery, Georgia Tech president Bud Peterson, former basketball star David Robinson, former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and National Association of Basketball Coaches board member John Thompson III.
“The distinguished individuals selected to serve on this commission, led by former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice as chair, have diverse backgrounds and experience in government, higher education and collegiate athletics,” National Association of Basketball Coaches executive director Jim Haney said.
The commission plans to have at least four meetings by March 2018.
Foley said the work ahead is important.
“The collective talent, experience and wisdom of the people I have the opportunity to work with is off the charts,” he said. “We have the chance to make a positive impact on the health of college basketball going forward, and that’s a responsibility we won’t take lightly.”
Federal complaints revealed in New York accused coaches, financial managers and an Adidas executive of trying to influence players on choosing schools and financial advisers.
“Individuals who break the trust on which college sports is based have no place here,” Emmert said. “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.”
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AP Sports Writers Mark Long, Larry Lage and Michael Marot contributed to this report.
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