August 8, 2018 / 6:39 PM / 9 months ago

NCAA changes policies on draft, agents, recruiting; NBA reportedly 'blindsided'

Eligibility for players who aren’t selected in the NBA draft could be restored based on a landmark decision from the NCAA on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The NCAA logo is seen on the side of a hotel in Dallas, Texas, March 30, 2013. The Florida Gators will play the Michigan Wolverines in the South Regional NCAA mens' basketball game on March 31. REUTERS/Jim Young

Several changes related to amateur status and eligibility are being put in place by the NCAA, including allowing “elite” high school players and all college players to work with endorsed player agents.

“We remain committed to promoting fairness in college sports and creating an environment that will champion the success of student-athletes,” the NCAA said in a statement.

However, the NBA and USA Basketball independently told ESPN that while they had consulted with the NCAA recently on proposed changes, neither organization believed a consensus was reached or near before the NCAA’s announcement Wednesday.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank told ESPN: “We will review the NCAA’s planned reforms and continue to assess, along with our Players’ Association, the potential for any related NBA rules changes.”

Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that a number of NBA official “were surprised over the presumptive and premature nature of the NCAA’s rules changes” that are based on the assumption that the NBA’s policy permitting preps to work with an agent will be dropped by the league. Such a decision to clear the way for high schoolers to enter the draft is currently pending.

The earliest the NBA intends to change the policy on high schoolers entering the draft is 2021 based on the collective bargaining agreement. An amendment bargained by the league’s players and owners is permissible, per the CBA.

Adopting recommendations made by the commission on college basketball convened in response to a federal recruiting probe engulfing Louisville, Arizona and other top programs, the NCAA plan is to establish a pool of certified agents who can advise players on their futures starting with high school seniors.

“We delivered on a promise made just months ago to make profound and meaningful changes to college basketball,” the NCAA statement read. “Ultimately, these decisions will support the success of student-athletes both on and off the court.”

Only prospects invited to the NBA scouting combine are eligible to return to school.

In January, the NCAA voted to allow men’s hockey players to be represented by agents who had met certain criteria. College baseball players were granted agent representation in 2016.

Kansas coach Bill Self, who was on the college basketball oversight committee, said it’s too soon to know the impact of the changes introduced.

“Did something need to be done? I think in the eyes of many, certainly something needed to be done,” Self told the Kansas City Star. “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.”

The NCAA said it focused on set initiatives but plans to continue negotiating with the NBA and USA Basketball to fully define additional legislation, which could include eliminating the NBA’s “one-and-done” rule requiring players to be at least one year out of high school before joining the pro league.

Changes for incoming recruits are afoot, as well, including increasing the number of permissible campus visits for recruits to 15 from five.

Per a joint statement Wednesday afternoon from NCAA president Mark Emmert, NCAA Board of Governors chair and Georgia Tech president G.P. Peterson, and Eric Kaler, Division I Board of Directors chair and University of Minnesota president:

“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.”

With regard to agents and accepting payments, including travel and expenses, the NCAA plans to make a major change to approve certain financial coverage by agents.

If the Uniform Athlete Agents Act and state laws match up, meals and transportation for players and their families related to the agent selection process would be NCAA-approved.

—Field Level Media

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