By Eddie Pels – Associated Press National Writer
NEW ORLEANS ( Associated Press) — If nine months due Monday night’s national title game between Kansas and North Carolina proved anything, it’s that college basketball and all college sports are changing.
Whoever shaped all of these changes—and it won’t necessarily be the NCAA—will help decide how the next decade in this multi-billion dollar ecosystem of sports, entertainment, and education turns into an efficiently run business. evolves or turns into chaos. Either is a possibility.
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And while the governing body is waving the white flag when it comes to detecting the many transformational changes that introduce these problems, there is a growing sense that this may not be a bad thing.
“This is not the time to look at the nits and bits,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Friday, a day before losing to North Carolina sealed his retirement. “It’s time to look at the whole thing.”
At the top of the to-do list is finding a viable system for “name, image and likeness” (NIL) deals.
Players can now earn money from sponsorship deals. It’s a tremendous change in the dynamics of the entire college, a business in which players made millions through March Madness, but much of it filters to keep coaches, new stadiums and weight rooms and the rest of the university’s athletic department running. was done.
“I’m definitely happy to have a little money in my pocket,” Duke guard Trevor Kielce said over the weekend.
But some argue that the void is a deviation from what it should actually be – that schools have to pay players directly for their work.
In a roundabout way, it’s happening anyway, as charities and others who put money into athletic programs are now shifting some of the dough to school-branded “collectives” that create sponsorship opportunities for athletes.
The workaround seems acceptable enough for the time being. But the NCAA has delegated all of its control, based on state laws, school oversight and, perhaps, a final federal law to regulate it all.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “It has been and it is still the case that we have to help Congress find a single legal model”.
Under the current mix of rules, there is little public information about who makes what and who pays the bills. The concept of floating million dollars with zero transparency strikes no one as the best business model for a sport full of athletes in their teens and early 20s.
“One of my big concerns isn’t even whether players are campaigning or getting paid,” said Barbara Jones of Outshine Talent. “It’s about them giving or promising too much and not even realizing it.”
Another theme is gender inequality. The Congress held a hearing on the issue during the tournament. Last year, the difference in behavior in men’s and women’s sports was explained by a video taken by Sedona Prince of Oregon of the lunge weight room at the women’s tournament.
The NCAA set up a task force and a panel came up with recommendations. Most of the changes have felt like window dressing. They added four teams to bring the women’s section to 68, changed the women’s final from Tuesday to Sunday and added the men’s addition to the women’s tournament branding “March Madness”.
Meanwhile, the NCAA still owns a very low-value media contract for women, the details of which paint the picture of the NCAA as a tone-deaf bureaucracy that isn’t changing with the times. The shortcomings are more apparent as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Title IX law that was designed to create equal opportunities for women in sports.
“I call it hot dogs for girls and steak for boys,” said Stanford coach Tara Oneiderweer.
Elsewhere, the new transfer rule is an attempt to rectify one of the biggest hypocrisies in the game – that is, coaches could go to the highest bidder without restriction but players were not given equal freedom. Now, they are, but when combined with zero, it threatens to create the kind of free-agency system that many in college sports would like to avoid.
The complex and inefficient rulebook has also made the NCAA look like it’s stuck in concrete.
EMERT all admitted that the reforms made to establish an independent committee were not working properly. One consequence is that he arrives in New Orleans with the prospect of handing the title trophy to coach Bill Self, whose Kansas program has been tainted by a complicated, half-decade-old investigation that still threatens the Jayhawks’ future.
“It’s common sense,” said Self. “We’ve been dealing with some stuff out of court for a while.”
Like most schools in trouble, Kansas’ problems center around recruiting top talent, which leads to the NCAA’s longest-running issue—the “one and done” rule, which mandates players Allows you to leave after one year of college.
Emmert’s well-worn take on that rule is that it’s technically part of the NBA collective-bargaining arrangement, so what’s the NCAA to do? But when it comes to teasing out the details, and how they affect college sports, Krzyzewski said he has more contact with NBA commissioner Adam Silver than anyone in the NCAA office.
As Krzyzewski leaves coaching in the rearview mirror, he is struck by how many decisions are made by NCAA boards and committees that don’t deal with day-to-day issues.
He wants to see a less-centralized NCAA—one that allowed men’s basketball to make decisions about its issues, and perhaps the same with women’s hoops and every other sport.
Whether a new model looks like something Krzyzewski envisioned, or something, there is a growing sense that big changes are on the way for the college sport.
“Whatever you work for, or whatever you do, it’s never going to be the status quo,” said Self. “We need to keep evolving.”
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