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 Wednesday, March 1
Student-athlete council sounds off on issues
By Andy Katz

 A players-only congress opposes the idea of either reducing or eliminating the time coaches can spend evaluating high school players during the summer, according to votes taken in the first teleconference held by the Student Basketball Council on NCAA issues.

Student Basketball Council
The following is a list of members of the Student Basketball Council. Names in bold indicate executive council members.
Robert Archibald Illinois
Alpha Bangura St. John's
Shane Battier Duke
Keith Bogans Kentucky
Brian Cardinal Purdue
Jeff Carey Kansas
William Chavis Tennessee St.
Kendell Clark Worchester Poly.
Cary Cochran Nebraska
Jarret Evans Louisiana-Lafayette
Nathan Fast Santa Clara
Reece Gaines Louisville
Chris Garber Muskingum College
Miguel Garcia Air Force
Sam Grannum UMBC
Mike Hahn Pacific
Brooks Hall Dayton
Dante Hall Central Oklahoma
Joe Havens Texas-San Antonio
Quentin Richardson DePaul
Bill Heisler Western Illinois
Broderick Hicks Wake Forest
Andy Hipsher Akron
Titus Ivory Penn State
James Jones Miami
LaVall Jordan Butler
Landry Kosmalski Davidson
Grant Leep Washington
Steve Logan Cincinnati
Mark Madsen Stanford
Andre McCullum Old Dominion
Nick McDevett UNC Asheville
Ian McGinnis Dartmouth
Blake O'Farrow Morehouse
David Ross South Carolina
Sitapha Savane Navy
Adam Seitz Evansville
Rasheem Sims Coppin State
John Sivesind Colorado State
Blake Sonne Marist
Renzi Stone Oklahoma
Etan Thomas Syracuse
Jason Thornton Central Florida
Marquel Timmons Texas Southern
Tim West Northeastern
Chris White E. Washington
Frank Wilkins St. Joseph's
Mike Wilks Rice

According to voting numbers received by ESPN.com, the first-ever student-athlete men's basketball congress voted 92 percent against eliminating summer recruiting, while 60 percent were opposed to reducing the number of days from 24 to 14 that Division I coaches can evaluate in the summer. Both issues are hot topics at high levels in the NCAA. But the NCAA had never heard from the student-athletes who play the game until the formation of the group this week.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches helped coordinate a 47-member congress that met via teleconference Sunday night. Duke's Shane Battier was named the chair and spokesperson, and the call included other other high-profile players such as DePaul's Quentin Richardson, Stanford's Mark Madsen, Purdue's Brian Cardinal and Syracuse's Etan Thomas.

The congress is made up of a cross-section of classes, ensuring that it carries any momentum gained this season into next year.

All of the votes were in response to issues put on the table by the Working Group on College Basketball Issues, which is in favor of reducing summer recruiting time, limiting scholarships and changing the starting date of the season. That group was formed last year, and met in the spring and summer of 1999.

The Student Basketball Council also voted against moving the starting date of the regular season from the Friday before Thanksgiving to the Friday after the holiday. The players voted 90 percent against limiting schools to four scholarships each season. The players actually favored (by 84 percent) allowing coaches to contact juniors in high school, giving them 10 contact days with those players in the spring of their junior season.

The players were also against having freshmen complete 12 hours of degree credits and achieve a 2.0 GPA in their first semester to remain eligible. As it stands now, freshmen do not need to meet eligibility requirements to remain eligible for second semester.

The players' votes will be sent to the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the NCAA management council and the NCAA board of directors and its chair, Syracuse president Kenneth "Buzz" Shaw.

The council didn't address the amateurism issues facing players this season (such as Michigan's Jamal Crawford, St. John's Erick Barkley, UCLA's JaRon Rush or Auburn's Chris Porter) because the NCAA vote on deregulating amateurism isn't until October.

"We are immediately concerned and highly disappointed about the image that a lot of players are getting due to perceived violations of NCAA rules," Battier said in a statement. "We feel that a lot of these players are getting a bad reputation and are being vilified in the eyes of the public when, in fact, nothing morally wrong has occurred. So, as a group, we are trying to come together and support our brothers who have been ostracized."

The executive council of the Student Basketball Council (Battier, Madsen, Cardinal, Thomas, Dayton's Brooks Hall, Butler's LaVall Jordan and Old Dominion's Andre McCullum) will meet at the Final Four in Indianapolis. The full student council will hold another conference call in April.

In a press release, Battier said he was excited about the voice for athletes on these issues.

"Down the road, we will look at different issues facing college basketball like the new contract CBS signed with the NCAA and how that pertains to the college basketball player, eligibility of student athletes and continued discussion concerning diversity issues within the NCAA member institution athletic departments," Battier said.

"We want to make our voices known and let people know within the NCAA structure how players feel and produce recommendations for real change," Battier said.


Daily Word: Players get a voice