Transparency is a helluva drug.

If you are of a mind that the proposed reforms of college basketball set to be released today by the Rice commission are going to amount to anything substantive, either you’re Mark Emmert…

“I expect the proposals will be strong,” NCAA president Mark Emmert told The Associated Press. “They’ll certainly break with the status quo. That’s their charge and their mission. That’s what we need.

“I think it’s going to be a very good day for college sports,” he said.

… or sadly deluded.

Swofford, for one, said he’d prefer to end the one-and-done model of top NBA prospects arriving in college for one-year pit stops before turning professional, though that would also take agreement from the NBA. Swofford prefers a model similar to baseball by allowing high schoolers to go straight to the pros but require players who enter college to spend two years there.

He’d also like to see the NBA-run G League become a stronger developmental option for athletes who don’t want to come to college…

Hoping for another agency to step up and take pressure off your business model isn’t reform.  It’s crossing your fingers.

Here’s the rest of the list of possibilities.

Changing summer basketball. The summer circuit is a money-soaked mishmash of leagues, with the three major ones run by the three apparel companies that sponsor virtually all top basketball programs (Adidas, Nike and Under Armour). Adidas’s sponsorship of such teams enabled it to pay players’ families without raising suspicion, according to prosecutors, and it is not uncommon for companies to pay families in ways that do not even violate N.C.A.A. rules.

The commission could recommend that the N.C.A.A. establish a centralized alternative. And if the N.C.A.A., say, barred college coaches from attending shoe-company events — which are the primary way coaches scout talent — those might lose their luster quickly.

Liberalizing agent rules. Currently, college basketball players cannot consult with agents. The commission could envision relationships with agents where money does not immediately change hands and agents could serve as business advisers to help a player decide whether to enter the N.B.A. draft.

Shining light on apparel deals. Rick Pitino, the Hall of Fame coach who was ousted at Louisville one day after the charges were revealed, received 98 percent of the cash Adidas gave the athletic department under its own deal. Arrangements in which coaches receive parts of their multimillion-dollar salaries from outside sources are often opaque, particularly when private institutions are involved.

Transparency might disincentivize arrangements in which it may not be financially clear whom coaches even work for.

Rethinking enforcement. This might be too inside-baseball even if you have read this far, but the present model, in which schools are obliged to discover and self-report N.C.A.A. rules violations, has failed, according to Emmert and many others.

The last is merely doubling down on what hasn’t worked.  That one sounds right up the NCAA’s alley.

As for “shining light on apparel deals”, yeah, right.

Just two years ago, the NCAA quietly discarded rules that identified how much money flowed directly to college coaches from outside sources such as shoe companies.

At the same time, Nike, Adidas and Under Armour began sinking unprecedented sums into college sports, inking deals with universities in excess of $100 million, including one for $280 million. Generous slices of those sponsorships ultimately go to top football and basketball coaches as indirect payments.

Yet more money has not meant more transparency for the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Examining the financial role of apparel companies is largely an exercise in futility.

To get answers, The Oregonian/OregonLive reviewed hundreds of pages of coaching contracts, apparel agreements and records detailing outside income for basketball coaches in two of the nation’s most prominent athletic conferences, the Big 12 and Pac-12.

Shoe contract money is divvied up in ways almost impossible to calculate, records show. Some coaches are paid directly by shoe companies. Others receive pass-through dollars that are obscured through athletic department budgets and ambiguous contracts. Because there is no real regulation, the universities and apparel companies are allowed to structure contracts any way they want – with the majority of basketball coaches’ annual earnings labeled as something other than base salary, The Oregonian/OregonLive found.

The newsroom also uncovered the obscure maneuvering that has allowed universities to disclose even less about the income paid to coaches by outside parties. A change pushed by the University of Texas and the Big 12 was sold on the premise that such earnings would still be revealed under institutional policies. In practice, that’s not happening.

What’s more, the effort to eliminate annual reporting was intentional, made in part to “minimize” the amount of information subject to public disclosure, according to documents obtained through an open records request. As a result, the newsroom found, less is known today about coaches’ outside income than at any point in the past 30 years.

I’m sure the coaches will be all on board the transparency train.  Just ask ’em; they’ll tell you… whether they want to or not.

Whatever list of recommendations is presented Wednesday morning by the NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball to improve the game can be expected to be met with a chorus of commendation by the nation’s Division I basketball coaches.

Because that was the recommended course of action by the gentlemen in charge of the National Association of Basketball coaches in a letter circulated by e-mail Tuesday afternoon to member coaches, a copy of which was obtained by Sporting News.

Under the heading “A Message to NCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches,” the document signed by NABC executive director Jim Haney and deputy director Reggie Minton declares, “In short, it is imperative that the Commission’s recommendations be met with unequivocal support from each of us.”

This is presented although there have been few, if any, leaks regarding what proposals the commission, chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, will offer and though it is acknowledged in the letter, “There may be recommendations that each of us likes and there may be others that are met with some concern.”

As long as nobody’s missing any meals, it’s all good.

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, where does the road paved with insincere bullshit take you?


UPDATE:  Report is out and it’s almost exactly as predicted.  Can’t wait to see how the NCAA grapples with agents and the AAU.  Both seem like popcorn-passing challenges.  The only sensible bone I can see that was thrown was letting basketball players be allowed to enter the draft at any time, while still maintaining college eligibility.  They should adopt that and extend it football while they’re at it.



Filed under The NCAA

2 responses to “Transparency is a helluva drug.

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    I know you put a lot of work into that post, so excuse me picking out something just to be clever, but:
    Embrace the healing power of ‘and’. Mark Emmert and ‘sadly deluded’ aren’t mutually exclusive.