The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics supports recent reform proposals to the NCAA amid a federal corruption investigation into college basketball — but wants the NCAA to do more.
The commission suggests changing the NCAA’s governance structure and additional financial regulations regarding coaches or school employees receiving outside income from apparel companies. The Knight Commission issued its proposals during its spring meeting Monday in Washington, roughly two weeks after the committee led by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued recommendations to overhaul the NCAA.
“It’s an open question if the NCAA can restore public confidence in its ability to be stewards of big-money college sports,” said Arne Duncan, the commission co-chairman and a former U.S. Secretary of Education. “To do so, it will need to embrace far more sweeping and deep-seated reform than ever before.”
The Rice committee’s recommendations included ending the “one-and-done” NBA rule, overhauling the enforcement process to handle complex cases of potential rules violations and creating a certification system to regulate agent conduct.
Rice’s Commission on College Basketball formed in October , a few weeks after federal prosecutors announced they had charged 10 men — including assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn, USC and Oklahoma State along with a top Adidas executive — in a fraud and bribery scandal.
The case involves hundreds of thousands of dollars in alleged bribes and kickbacks designed to influence recruits on choosing a school, agent or apparel company. It has entangled schools such as Kansas, North Carolina State , Louisville and Miami , among others, though prosecutors withdrew a criminal complaint in February against one of the defendants.
Among its proposals, Rice’s committee had recommended the NCAA restructure its Board of Governors — made up of college presidents or chancellors — to add at least five outside members to bring more independent voices into leadership.
Separately, the Knight Commission wants at least six independent members on the 24-person Division I Board of Directors, also made up of school representatives. It also wants “more stringent” approvals and disclosures for income from apparel companies. That includes prohibiting athletics employees from having a contract contingent on players using the company’s products, a right the commission instead reserved for the schools themselves.
The Knight Commission, formed in 1989 to support “the educational mission of college sports,” also seeks to have public disclosures of the outside income — both for public and private schools — received by university employees from the apparel companies.
The commission heard from several people during its Monday meeting, including: NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli and Kylia Carter — the mother of Duke one-and-done forward Wendell Carter Jr.
Remy said the NCAA groups are working to have legislation based on the Rice commission’s recommendations ready to present in August and adoption in time for next season.
“There were no stakeholders who should not have been put on alert as the commission report was read,” Martelli said. “We are not here to rebuild college basketball. We’re here to create a new model. And if you’re not in, you’re out.”
Bilas, a frequent NCAA critic, said the Rice commission didn’t address the amount of money flowing through the game and a “failed concept of amateurism” that instead should compensate athletes with more than an education.
“When I pull back the layers, the problem that I see is not with the student-athlete,” Carter said. “It’s not with the coaches and the institutions of higher learning. But it’s with a system — like the only system that I have ever seen where the laborers are the only people that are not being compensated for the work that they do while those in charge receive mighty compensation.
“The only two systems where I’ve known that to be in place is slavery and the prison system. And now I see the NCAA as overseers of a system that is identical to that.”
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