Commission on College Basketball calls for sweeping reforms by NCAA

Rice sees 'tremendous' benefits from NCAA reform (0:58)

Condoleezza Rice shares how the Commission on College Basketball's recommendations to the NCAA will deter exploitation and greatly benefit universities and student-athletes who are serious about academics. (0:58)

The Commission on College Basketball recommended an end to the one-and-done rule, potential lifetime bans for rule-breakers, and changes to the relationship between the NCAA and apparel companies.

"We need to put the college back in college basketball," commission chairman and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday at a news conference in Indianapolis after the independent panel released a detailed 60-page report.

"Our focus has been to strengthen the collegiate model -- not to move toward one that brings aspects of professionalism into the game," Rice added.

On Wednesday, the NCAA Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors said it has unanimously endorsed all the commission's recommendations.

"We are fully committed to restoring the trust and confidence in college sports," a statement from the NCAA said.

The endorsement isn't an immediate change. It only means that the NCAA will now begin the hard work of changing rules, crafting legislation and building consensus among 351 Division I members on how best to make all this work. NCAA's Division I Council, comprised mostly of athletic directors, had already begun working on some of the areas where the commission recommended reforms.

The 12-member commission was formed in the wake of last fall's FBI investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball and recruiting. Ten people were arrested in September, including officials at Adidas and assistant coaches at Arizona, Oklahoma State, USC and Auburn. NC State and Kansas were mentioned in more recent court documents. Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino also lost his job as a result of the probe, whose findings allege that five-star recruit Brian Bowen received $100,000 to sign with the Cardinals.

The committee's report called the environment surrounding college basketball "a toxic mix of perverse incentives to cheat," and said that responsibility for the current mess goes all the way up to university presidents.

Ending one-and-done is the biggest change suggested by the commission, even though it's an NBA rule -- which Rice pointed out. The commission wants 18-year-olds to again be eligible for the NBA draft, allowing a path to the pros directly out of high school.

The rule was implemented in 2006 despite the success of straight-from-high-school stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

The most significant thing is that the dialogue has been opened up," committee member and Hall of Famer David Robinson told ESPN's Get Up on Wednesday. "All these different constituents [NBA, apparel companies, NCAA, coaches, administrators] ... came to the table to discuss some of these matters, which were in silos before. It opened up a tremendous dialogue.

"I think we all agree we have to do what's in the best interests of these kids. We have to give them options, open up their eyes to the reality of the situation: 'What percent of you are going to play in the pros?' The rest of them need an education. That is what's going to be the real value here -- going to college. Not so you can skip through college and get to the NBA as quickly as possible."

If a change is not made to one-and-done, Rice said the commission will look into options, such as making freshmen ineligible or locking a scholarship for three or four years if the recipient leaves a program after one year.

"One-and-done has to go one way or another," Rice told The Associated Press.

The NBA and NBPA conversations on eliminating the one-and-done rule are centered on the 2020 draft as the earliest possible date for change, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday. The Players Association's executive committee, including president Chris Paul, won't meet until after the NBA season.

The commission also recommends college players should be able to return to school if they go undrafted, as long as they don't sign a professional contract. As it stands, players can test NBA draft waters without an agent, but must withdraw their name weeks before the draft should they decide to return to school.

"Erroneously entering the NBA draft is not the kind of misjudgment that should deprive student-athletes of the valuable opportunity to enter college or to continue in college while playing basketball," said Rice, who added that the commission considered, but did not recommend, the "baseball rule" that requires two or three years of college if prospects don't go straight to the draft out of high school.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts released a joint statement Wednesday saying they will "continue to assess" the commission's suggestions on draft eligibility rules.

"We support NCAA policy and enforcement reforms that will better safeguard the well-being of players while imposing greater accountability on representatives and programs that fail to uphold the values of the game," the statement said. "We also share the commission's concern with the current state of youth basketball and echo that all stakeholders -- including the NBA, NBPA, NCAA, and USA Basketball -- have a collective responsibility to help bring about positive change."

Another change to the current process suggested by the commission would be enabling high school and college players to sign with certified agents before deciding on whether to enter the NBA draft.

The FBI investigation into college basketball last fall centered around Christian Dawkins, a "runner" working for ASM Sports, a sports agency headed by Andy Miller. Dawkins allegedly helped funnel money to prospects through assistant coaches and shoe companies. Once a player signs with an agent or accepts money from an agent, he is ineligible according to current NCAA rules.

"Players should be able to receive meaningful assessment of professional prospects earlier with assistance from certified agents," Rice said. "If NCAA rules do not allow them to receive that advice openly, they will often seek it illicitly."

Rice also called for an overhaul to the investigative and enforcement arms of the NCAA. In addition to using independent and neutral investigators, the commission recommends much harsher NCAA penalties for cheaters and rule-breakers. For Level I violations, that includes a five-year postseason ban and loss of all revenue sharing in postseason play.

Most noticeably, the commission recommends stiffer penalties for coaches that knowingly break rules -- including potential lifetime bans.

"Currently, the rewards for violating the rules far outweigh the risks," Rice said.

The commission also called out university presidents, saying administrators can't be allowed to turn a blind eye to infractions. It also recommends university presidents should be required to "certify annually that they have conducted due diligence and that their athletic programs comply with NCAA rules."

In a direct reference to the recent NCAA investigation into academic fraud at North Carolina, the commission recommended the NCAA have jurisdiction into that area. She said the loophole that all students, not just athletes, were able to benefit from the fraudulent classes should not be a legitimate defense.

The commission also addressed the grassroots basketball scene -- which Rice called an "ungoverned space" -- and apparel companies.

Currently, there are five live periods from April to July in which college coaches can go to watch prospects at events sponsored by Nike, Adidas or Under Armour or are run independently. The commission recommends the NCAA start its own regional events in July, and make them the only events that coaches can attend that month.

The commission also called for the NCAA to work closer with USA Basketball, the NBA and the NBPA to start a new youth basketball program. It's not yet clear how the governing body would pay for some of the proposals.

Adidas was at the forefront of the FBI investigation, with two Adidas officials among those arrested. According to court records, they allegedly helped funnel money to prospects in order to get them to sign with Adidas-sponsored schools. The commission calls for more financial transparency in this area.

"It is time that the money flowing from apparel companies and other third parties into non-scholastic basketball be disclosed and accounted for in order to address the corruption we see in the sport," Rice said.

The commission did not make any recommendations in the area of paying collegiate athletes or enabling them to earn money off their names or likenesses. Rice did address the issue, but acquiesced to the courts for now.

"I know this is an issue on the minds of many, and the commission thought long and hard about this," she said. "In the end, we respected the fact that that legal ramifications of NCAA action on name, image and likeness are currently before the courts. We don't believe that the NCAA can legislate in this area until the legal parameters become clearer.

"That said, most commissioners believe that the rules on name, image and likeness should be taken up as soon as the legal framework is established. It is hard for the public, and frankly for me, to understand what can be allowed within the college model and what can't be allowed without opening the door to professionalizing college basketball."

At the Final Four, Emmert said he didn't see paying players as a likely option.

"Universities and colleges have consistently said they don't want to have student-athletes become employees of a university," Emmert said. "They don't want them to be playing for compensation."

The commission, in addition to Rice and Robinson, also includes NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill, former coaches John Thompson III and Mike Montgomery, school presidents, athletic directors and USA Basketball chairman Martin Dempsey.

It was tasked to focus on three areas: the relationship of the NCAA with apparel companies, grassroots basketball and agents; the NCAA's relationship with the NBA and the one-and-done rule; and the relationship between schools and the NCAA.

Rice presented the commission's report to the NCAA's Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors at the association's headquarters Wednesday. She called the crisis in college basketball "first and foremost a problem of failed accountability and lax responsibility."

Said Emmert at the Final Four: "Just to be blunt about it, you don't waste Condoleezza Rice's time if you're not serious about it."

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told ESPN's Heather Dinich that while the commission's suggestions are the "next step" in helping fix what's wrong, it's hardly the last step.

"We had this rumble that these things were going on," Sankey said Wednesday. "... There was a triggering event with the indictments and arrests in the fall. I view this as a step rather than a destination. It's an important step, a worthwhile step, but people will adapt and we will as a system likely have to adapt again."

ESPN reported in November that the group met with Silver and Roberts. Emmert has also said the commission met with agents and officials from apparel companies.

The commission's report admonished those within college sports who use the NCAA as a scapegoat for the problems in basketball, saying universities and individuals are accountable for keeping the game clean.

"When those institutions and those responsible for leading them short-circuit rules, ethics and norms in order to achieve on-court success, they alone are responsible," the commission wrote. "Too often, these individuals hide behind the NCAA when they are the ones most responsible for the degraded state of intercollegiate athletics, in general, and college basketball in particular."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.