SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Dan Wolken breaks down the changes coming to the college basketball world.
The NCAA announced sweeping changes Wednesday that, among other things, will speed along any investigation into Arizona and other programs caught in an ongoing FBI probe.
The NCAA said its investigators can now accept “information established by another administrative body, including a court of law, government agency, accrediting body or a commission authorized by a school.”
The FBI certainly qualifies, meaning that information gathered as part of its investigation into college basketball could be used by NCAA investigators as it pursues sanctions. Previously, the NCAA investigated all cases on its own in what was often a time-consuming, expensive process.
The NCAA announced the actions on its website.
Arizona and other programs have been the subject of an ongoing FBI probe over the last year. A federal complaint made public last Sept. 26 said then-UA assistant coach Book Richardson took $20,000 from agents, some of which he kept for himself and “some of which he appears to have provided to at least one prospective high school basketball player” in exchange for that player committing to the UA. The complaint also quoted sports agent Christian Dawkins saying that a then-current UA player had already been paid.
The new rules also allow players to seek agent representation and return to school if they’re not taken in the NBA draft. College players who are not drafted and still have eligibility can return to school until Monday after the draft and schools must pay for any men’s and women’s players who return for their degrees after turning pro. Players previously had until 10 days after the mid-May NBA combine to return to school.
Arizona has had a number of players leave early and go undrafted, including Brandon Ashley (2015), Kobi Simmons (2017), Chance Comanche (2017), Rawle Alkins (2018) and Allonzo Trier (2018).
Agents can represent players
Additionally, acting on recommendations from the NCAA’s commission on college basketball and feedback from the working groups that have been formulated since then, the NCAA announced it will allow NCAA-certified agents to represent players if they seek evaluation from the NBA’s advisory committee after any season.
Players in high school who are deemed “elite senior prospects” by USA Basketball may also seek representation if, as expected, the NBA and its players association begin allowing players to leave high school directly for the NBA.
The NCAA will also limit the number of travel-ball events — those that are typically sponsored by apparel companies — that coaches can attend. It will also double the number of official visits a player can take before entering college to 10.
Coaches are also subject to stricter penalties if caught violating rules, and can be suspended for more than a year, while school presidents and chancellors will also be held accountable.
Breakdown of some other key changes
• Players can take up to 15 total official recruiting visits: five between Aug. 1 and the end of their junior year and five between the end of their junior year and the Oct. 15 after they graduate from high school. Five more are allowed from that Oct. 15 through the remainder of their college eligibility, presumably for transfer candidates and academic nonqualifiers. Athletes can visit a particular school only once per year.
• Schools can now pay for 28 official visits over a rolling, two-year period; previously, that number was capped at 24.
• Agents can pay for meals and transportation related to the agent selection process. Any agreement with agents must be terminated if the athlete returns to or enrolls in school.
• Schools must pay tuition, fees and books for basketball players who leave school after two years or more and return later to complete their degree. The NCAA says it will offer financial assistance for schools who can’t provide this aid.
• Coaches will be allowed to evaluate during two four-day periods in April. They can now attend NBPA Top 100 camp in mid-June and high school events approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations during the last two weekends in June.
• In July, coaches can attend travel-ball tournaments only during the first weekend (they previously could attend during three weekends). They can attend youth development camps in late July that will be run by the NCAA, USA Basketball and the NBA.
• Coaches must report to their president or chancellor any outside income above $600.
• College presidents and chancellors will be held personally liable for their athletics program if it doesn’t follow rules.
• Coaches found breaking rules face stronger penalties, including postseason bans up to five years and coach suspensions that could extend beyond one season. Recruiting restrictions (such as a loss of official visits) can be increased and all revenue from the NCAA Tournament forfeited.
• More independent oversight of complex cases will be added.