The Latest: NBA, players union noncommittal on draft changes

The Latest: NBA, players union noncommittal on draft changes
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on recommendations by the Commission on College Basketball to the NCAA (all times local):

11:10 a.m.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are offering no guarantees about changing the league’s draft eligibility rules despite calls from a key NCAA panel to let players go pro sooner.

In a joint statement Wednesday, the league and union vowed only to “continue to assess” the draft rules “in order to promote the best interests of players and the game.”

A panel led by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls on the NBA and NPBA to lower the draft age back to 18 years old. The current rule, enacted in 2005, requires U.S. players to be 19 and a year removed from high school, sending many top players to college for one year.

The commission believes the so-called “one-and-done” era has contributed to college basketball’s problems and wants the draft age lowered in 2018.

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10:30 a.m.

NCAA President Mark Emmert hopes legislation to implement some recommendations made by the Commission on College Basketball can be voted on in August.

Others may take a while longer to debate.

Emmert weighed in Wednesday soon after former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a sweeping package of recommendations to clean up college basketball and the role apparel companies play in the sport.

But the NCAA will need help from businesses, the NBA and the NBA Players Association, and Emmert believes they will play a role.

Emmert says the NCAA has had conversations with the league and players union about the issues. He says they have their own business models and interests but understand where the NCAA is coming from.

He says: “I’m confident that they’re going to be very supportive of that and will be good partners with us and we want to work with them. Even rules, like changing and how we can manage timing of issues around the draft.”

Giving athletes more money to play in college, though, appears to be off the table.

Instead, the commission called on the NCAA to help those more interested in playing professional basketball to find a path for them to achieve their goal.

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9:25 a.m.

The commission tasked with making changes to college basketball passed on dealing with the key issue of college athletes receiving payments for use of their names, images and likenesses.

That’s because the issue is still tied up in the courts. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the commission doesn’t believe that the NCAA can legislate in this area until the legal parameters are more clear.

But she says most of the panel belives the NCAA should take up the issue.

She says it’s hard to understand what’s allowed. She says: “For the life of me I don’t understand the difference between Olympic payments and participation in ‘Dancing with the Stars’ – and what can’t be allowed without opening the door to professionalizing college basketball.”

Notre Dame women’s basketball star Arike Ogunbowale plans to compete on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Rice says she hopes Ogunbowale wins and that there’s more room for athletes to have similar opportunities in college sports.

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8:25 a.m.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tells NCAA leaders that the crisis in college basketball is “first and foremost a problem of failed accountability and lax responsibility.”

Rice was speaking Wednesday to NCAA officials in Indianapolis to present the recommendations from the Commission on College Basketball. The panel she led has been charged with finding ways to fix a sport reeling from a fraud and bribery scandal.

Rice and the commission is recommending sweeping changes to NBA draft rules, NCAA enforcement and summer basketball. She says the commission wants to keep the “college” in college basketball.

Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins was part of the Rice commission. He says the commission wants “to sound the death knell of the educational sham that is ‘one-and-done.'” The one-and-done rule refers to players being eligible for the draft at 19 years old, prompting many talented players to play one year of college when they’d rather go pro right away.

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7:45 a.m.

A panel tasked with reforming college basketball says the NCAA should work to end the one-and-done era and punish coaches and programs that cheat more harshly.

The Commission on College Basketball led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is calling for sweeping reforms that include banning cheating coaches for life and certifying agents who deal with players.

The independent commission released a detailed 60-page report Wednesday, seven months after the NCAA formed the group to respond to a federal corruption investigation that rocked college basketball.

Ten people, including some assistant coaches, have been charged in a bribery and kickback scheme, and high-profile programs such as Arizona, Louisville and Kansas have been tied to possible NCAA violations.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report ahead of Rice presenting its findings to top NCAA officials.

The commission offered harsh assessments of NCAA enforcement. It says the environment surrounding college basketball encourages people to cheat.

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