Fr. Jenkins, Mike Brey address NCAA commission’s findings
Marek Mazurek | Thursday, April 26, 2018
The Commission for College Basketball announced its recommendations to the NCAA on Wednesday, which include certifying agents for college athletes and eliminating the “one-and-done” rule for high school players looking to turn professional.
The Commission was created last October in response to reports of scandals in the collegiate game involving prominent shoe companies paying high school players to go to certain schools.
University President Fr. John Jenkins, a member of the Commission, said Wednesday that the recommendations represent the first step towards cleaning up the collegiate game.
“It’s a steep hill to climb, let’s not declare victory,” Jenkins said. “I think we’re better off today than we were yesterday.”
A full list of the Commission’s recommendations can be found on the NCAA’s website, but in addition to dismantling the “one-and-done” rule and creating a system which allows for agents, some of the Commission’s notable recommendations include:
- Creating an investigative and adjudicative body to look into and punish NCAA violations
- Require NCAA coaching contracts to guarantee cooperation with investigations
- More severe penalties for schools found to have violated NCAA rules
- More stringent oversight of non-scholastic basketball such as AAU leagues
- Players can enter the draft after any college season and return to their school if they go undrafted
Addressing payment for college players, both Jenkins and Irish head basketball coach Mike Brey said they remained against the notion.
“I think when you’re talking about payment for playing, once we go down that road, we become a second or third-tier professional league,” Jenkins said. “I don’t see an end to that. I don’t want Mike or the University bidding on a player.”
“[Paying players] cuts against everything we’re about, especially here at Notre Dame,” Brey said. “I think that’s an easy crutch for everyone to throw out right now: ‘We should pay them.’ … if you think it’s tough now, we throw that one in there, it’s going to be out of control.”
Jenkins said the Commission did consider allowing college athletes to accept payment for their image and likeness in an Olympic-type model. However, due to pending litigation, those discussions did not make their way into the recommendations.
“The Commission struggled with name and image likeness,” Jenkins said. “I think we would have been open to that. The challenge is that in California, and the judge made very clear, you start down that road and there’s no end to that. You’ll be bidding for players. … At this stage, we felt it wasn’t the time to make that change while that court case was in the midst of litigation.”
Abolishing the “one-and-done” rule is perhaps the Commission’s most impactful recommendation, and Jenkins said he is opposed to the rule to begin with.
“It sort of gives mockery to the very idea that these kids are coming here to get a degree,” Jenkins said. “That shouldn’t be the business we’re in, and we shouldn’t handcuff those kids and make them come if they don’t want to be on a college campus and pursue a degree.”
Another issue that hits close to the University in light of the NCAA’s recent decision to vacate Notre Dame’s football victories in 2012 and 2013 is punitive measures for schools found to be in violation of NCAA rules. Brey said he’s glad the recommendations move toward harsher penalties for those who violate rules, including five-year postseason bans, loss of revenue from tournaments and lifetime bans for coaches who are repeat offenders.
“[The NCAA wasn’t] stringent enough. The NCAA was handcuffed as far as investigation and penalizing,” Brey said. “So I think it was really tempting for some to push the issue because the reward was definitely worth the risk. I think with the enforcement moving outside and the penalties being harsher, it’s not going to be [worth the risk] finally.”
Jenkins said some of the NCAA’s recent punitive decisions sparked discussion of an independent adjudicative arm for college sports.
“I do think some of the recent decisions by the adjudication of the NCAA have gotten people scratching their heads, and it creates cynicism when you have decisions that don’t seem consistent or appropriate to the violations,” Jenkins said.
The Commission’s recommendations now face the process of becoming NCAA legislation. Brey said various other groups will begin to debate and “shape” the Commission’s findings and present them to the NCAA in August as potential legislation.
“Some [recommendations] will go through right away [in August], others will have to be fazed in,” Brey said.
In addition to Jenkins, Notre Dame alumnae Condoleezza Rice served as the Commission’s chair. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the NCAA Board of Governors unanimously voted to endorse the Commission’s recommendations. In a separate statement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will “continue to assess” the NBA’s eligibility rules.