KU basketball coach Bill Self reacts to ‘significant changes’ implemented by NCAA

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

The NCAA’s board of governors and Division I board of directors on Wednesday adopted rules changes to college basketball that allow players to hire agents, let undrafted players return to school and alter the recruiting model.

The changes — which include allowing players who attend the NBA combine to return to college if undrafted, allowing elite college players and recruits to be represented by certified agents while still playing, increasing the number of campus visits for prep prospects and adding recruiting events in June to involve high school coaches and their teams — certainly will be much discussed in coming weeks.

“I think they are significant changes and there are some that certainly if you look at it from a nonpartisan way, I do think there are some legitimate concerns about some of them, but we don’t know enough about it yet to know exactly how it’ll all play out,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, who, as a member of the NCAA men’s basketball oversight committee, was involved in the process of considering the recommendations of Condoleezza Rice’s independent commission on how to solve some of the issues facing college basketball.

“Did something need to be done? I think in the eyes of many, certainly something needed to be done,” Self added. “I am actually one that felt there could be changes that could be positive. I also think that’s the way it is with everything when you are dealing with the NCAA. Very rarely do you find anything 100 percent exactly the way you would personally see it and you could always tweak it. I did think some changes could be made that could be very positive for our game.”

It has been decided by the NCAA that college basketball players who request an evaluation by an undergraduate advisory committee, participate in the NBA combine and enter the NBA draft yet are not drafted, will be allowed to return to school as long as they notify their athletic director of their intent by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft.

This change, the NCAA said, is effective, “If/when the NBA and NBPA make an expected rule change, which would make undrafted student-athletes who return to college after the draft ineligible for the NBA until the end of the next college basketball season.”

Also, college players will be allowed to be represented by an agent “beginning after any season if they request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee.”

“I think in theory it sounds very good,” Self said of undrafted players being allowed to return to school. “Still a lot of it needs to be played out exactly how the NBA will handle certain things. Is the one-and-done going to be a thing of the past or when will it be a thing of the past?”

Self stressed that not all players would be allowed to go through the draft process and return if undrafted.

“There’s only certain kids that would be eligible to do that. Those would be the individuals who would also be invited to the combine. Not just anybody could do that. It would only be the ones considered to be potential NBA draft prospects,” Self said. “That will be dictated in some way by whether it be a combine invitation, by something the NBA comes up with. It won’t be open where anybody can go to the draft and anybody can come back. It will have some limitations to that. I think it will be very interesting to see how all that occurs with what the NBA and Players Association feels would be the best way to handle that.”

It would be difficult for a coach to plan a roster if all players declared for the late June draft knowing they could return to school if not selected.

“The problem could be if you get into it, and it’s the end of June and you give the scholarship away because you feel the youngster will be drafted or he’s going to pursue professional options. Would there be an opportunity for that youngster to come back to your school if you give the scholarship away?” Self said. “There will be instances like that without question. In theory it sounds good. I don’t know what all the consequences will come of that just yet. A lot probably depends on how the NBA views it and what they set their guidelines to be.”

High school prospects also will be allowed to be represented by an agent beginning July 1 before their senior year in high school provided they have been identified as “an elite senior prospect by USA Basketball.” This rule will go into effect, “if/when the NBA and the NBPA permit high school students to enter the draft,” the NCAA stated.

To work with a high school or college athlete, agents must be “certified by an NCAA program with standards for behavior and consequences for violations.”

“I do not have a feel for that,” Self said of college and prep players being able to have agents. “I think more information is good (that an agent can provide in addition to coaches’ advice). I think what potentially could happen, though, is you have colleges recruiting agents and their firms and not as focused maybe as much on families. Because when somebody makes a decision to sign with a certain agent you are going to have to definitely do a good job recruiting that particular party in case that youngster would decide to go to college when the decision is made.”

The new recruiting model will allow high school students to make more official campus visits than the five currently allotted during their senior year of high school.

Prospects, in fact, effective Aug. 15, will be allowed to make five official visits between Aug. 1 and the end of their junior year of high school, five visits between the end of their junior year and Oct. 15 after high school graduation and five visits between Oct. 15 after high school graduation and the remainder of their college eligibility (this concerns transfers).

“I think more access, getting kids on campus in college environments is positive,” Self said. “The whole deal is we raised visits from 24 to 28 over a two-year period. That’s an average of two more a year. It won’t be like schools can just roll out 10 visits for juniors. If they do that it will limit the number of seniors to bring in. It will have to be mapped out and thought out how to prioritize, what kids could potentially commit early.”

As far as the recruiting calendar … college coaches will be able to attend events during the last two weekends of June if the events are approved “by the National Federation of State High School Associations; organized by groups affiliated with high schools or high school coaching associations; and occur at middle schools, high schools or colleges.” Coaches also can attend one weekend youth basketball event in early July, presumably an AAU sponsored event.

The calendar also allows coaches to attend NCAA youth development camps in late July, a collaboration between the NCAA, USA Basketball, the NBA and the NBA Players Association.

“The intent on that was try to give power, for lack of a better term, back to high schools and high school coaches, where college coaches would actually engage the high coaches (at the June events) and see them play with their high school teams as a better way to evaluate them and learn more about them as opposed to strictly do the nonscholastic summer events (AAU). It’s a combination of both,” Self said.

There will be challenges in starting up these high school events.

“I believe some things will need to be worked out, tweaked to get everybody on the same page,” Self said. “What type of events are these? How can you evaluate them (players), how the high school associations will work with the NCAA to try to make guys available for us to see. In theory that could be a positive thing. Of course lessening the number of weeks in July for the nonscholastic events to recruit is a pretty big change that will certainly be new and different for everybody that’s been involved in recruiting.”

Also in terms of enforcement, the NCAA says, “those who break the rules face stronger penalties, including longer postseason bans (up to five years), longer head coach suspensions (could extend beyond one season), longer employment limitations for coaches and staff who violate rules (potential for lifetime show-cause orders), increased recruiting restrictions and the loss of all revenue associated with the Division I NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.”

Also, the NCAA said, “people charged with investigating and resolving NCAA cases can accept information established by another administrative body, including a court of law, government agency, accrediting body or a commission authorized by a school. This will save time and resources previously used to confirm information already adjudicated by another group.”

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