The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an organization that aims to reform, support and strengthen the educational mission of college sports, came to D.C. Monday to discuss current issues concerning NCAA athletics.
With big names and commission members such as former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, basketball greats David Robinson and Len Elmore, and former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in attendance, ideas about NCAA reform circulated throughout the ballroom at the Willard InterContinental Washington in Northwest.
NCAA President Mark Emmert discussed the impact of “one and done” players in college basketball, concussions and player safety in college football, along with issues that encompass other revenue-generating athletics.
“We cannot go into next basketball season without seeing fundamental change in the way college basketball operates,” Emmert said in reference to current academic and corruption investigations of big-name programs such as Louisville and the University of North Carolina. “We need to find a way to avoid careening from crisis to crisis.”
Emmert criticized the NBA’s one-and-done rule for college basketball players.
“We do have 2 to 5 percent of basketball players who really want to be professional basketball players, and if they want to be a basketball player, they should be able to,” be said. “We don’t make dancers attend Tulane to become dancers.”
The commission called on the NCAA to modify a rule that now effectively allows an institution under investigation to make its own determination about the academic legitimacy of its courses.
Other loopholes in NCAA rules governing academic integrity, including the determination of what constitutes impermissible academic benefits for athletes, also need to be closed, the commission said.
Noted was the large pay scale of premium Autonomy 5 schools, an example being Nick Saban, who grosses $11 million per year, while players are left penniless.
Carol Cartwright, commission co-chair, expressed her distaste for the inequality in treatment of players and coaches.
“It’s clear that we need a new approach that can provide more fairness to student-athletes, while giving more teeth to the NCAA to ensure academic integrity in college sports,” she said.