The NCAA had it's national convention this week, and on Thursday invited Secretary of Education and Neko Case fan Arne Duncan to speak, and the man says there are things that need fixing:
"We now have universities signing eighth graders to their colleges," Duncan said. "I’m not sure how an eighth grader who doesn’t yet know where they’re going to go to high school can accurately and thoughtfully and strategically pick the best college program. I think we should slow down a little bit, slow down and think about doing that maybe in the sophomore year. Signing students in the eighth and ninth grade belies any common sense."
Duncan would also like to have more rules based on graduation rates, where failing to graduate players can ban use from the postseason and success in that regard can earn you more coaching contact with players in the offseason. I'm dubious that would work, and think it would just lead to more programs bending the academic rules on campus, but it wold be interesting to see graduation rates come up in coaching searches. Duncan would also like to drop the one-and-done rule:
"They’re not truly student-athletes," Duncan said of these basketball players. "They’re simply passing through their institutions on the way to something else."
Duncan was unclear on whether he would like to see the rule simply abandoned or changed by increasing the minimum age. He did, however, suggest that other college sports like baseball have found ways to accommodate players who are ready for professional leagues without college while encouraging others to stay enrolled longer.
I'm on the fence about the rule; it's silly for the NBA to require it just to save their own teams from poor draft decisions, but it also gets some kids a couple of years more college education than they would have, as not everyone who arrives on campus as an intended one-and-done leaves immediately. I did hope Brandon Jennings' success would encourage more of the kids who really have no desire for college to try overseas ball instead, but I'm not sure how popular that will be now.
Before Duncan to the dias, however, the NCAA did a bit of rule-passing of their own. Most notably, they banned men's basketball programs from hiring people "associated with [a] prospective student-athlete" two years before and after the athlete in question is enrolled at college was passed. Cal it the Dalonte Hill rule, after the AAU coach of Michael Beasley who got a job at Kansas State at the same time Beasley enrolled there. Baylor tried something similar with John Wall's coach, although Wall ended up in a Kentucky uniform regardless. The NCAA also voted to allow prospective athletes to play unpaid on pro teams, except for certain exceptions. Among those are skiing and men's ice hockey. I wasn't particularly aware of such a problem in skiing, but it's good to know the NCAA is dead-set on athletes being recompensated for their skills. Can't have that money not going into the right coffers, after all.