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NCAA VP in Scottsdale to discuss FBI investigations, NBA Draft reform for men's basketball

Posted at 1:36 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-02 16:47:30-04

Dan Gavitt, the NCAA's vice president of men's basketball, will be making the rounds this month, bouncing from conference meeting to conference meeting, talking with coaches and athletic directors about reforming college hoops.

On Tuesday at a posh hotel with a poolside view of the McDowell Mountains in Arizona, Gavitt spent time with the Big 12 and Pac-12. Gavitt also worked in a call with USA Basketball to discuss what to do with the summer youth circuit. A week after Condoleezza Rice presented the Commission on College Basketball's report on how to fix the sport, part of the work that needs to be done is figure out what exactly it all means.

"There's a lot to do to make that happen because the recommendations are really sound, but there's an awful lot of interpretation, I think, that has to go into what exactly the recommendation is and how we put it into practice," said Gavitt, the son of the late Dave Gavitt, who helped found the Big East.

The Rice Commission made proposals ranging from changing NBA draft rules to hitting NCAA rule-breakers with harsher penalties. Dan Gavitt will lead the reformation of summer recruiting events, with a goal of giving college basketball coaches NCAA-run events where they can connect with high school players outside of the AAU circuit.

"We want to achieve what the recommendations are meant to achieve, but it's a very unorganized and unregulated space, much of which will continue to exist," Gavitt said.

At the heart of an FBI investigation of college basketball was the convergence of apparel companies, agents, AAU basketball and college coaches. Whether the Rice Commission can remedy the issues that led to the indictments of 10 people, including several assistant coaches, remains to be seen.

"I think those are a very complex issue," Gavitt said. "I hope they help to address that. I think time will tell. There's an awful lot there and some of the things that we might be able to get at very specifically, the root cause of all that, may be out of the purview of what we can do and thus weren't part of the recommendations. But what the recommendations were I think can help and we're committed to making them happen."

The Rice Commission also recommended the NCAA and USA Basketball, with some help from the NBA, establish an evaluation system for youth players to put the best 100 or so on a path to playing for the national team and maybe jumping straight to the pros, while others would be categorized as having pro potential but not necessarily from high school. And still others would be categorized as having Division I scholarship potential.

"We need to figure out if those are the right numbers," he said. "If those are the right levels. How is each level different in terms of how we set up for July? That's the kind of level of detail that we've already started digging into."

Kansas coach Bill Self's program was mentioned in the most recent updated indictment to come from New York prosecutors, though no one related to the program is known to be in trouble with the law and Self has claimed no wrongdoing by Kansas. Self is also a member of the NCAA's basketball oversight committee. He said the oversight committee will play a role in making some of the interpretations Gavitt believes are necessary to turn the recommendations into NCAA legislation.

"What the committee is designed to do is look out for the best interest of the game, and it has been decided that this is in the best interest of the game," Self said. "We will work to try to look into intended consequences and unintended consequences."

The commission recommended increasing penalties for the most severe NCAA violations to five-year postseason bans and lifetime bans for coaches.

"I don't know if I have an opinion on all those things yet," Self said. "In theory, I think they're positive. In theory, but you have to be able to dissect it and get into all those things. I haven't studied it. I've read (the report) like everybody else has. And certainly from what I read, I read more positive than negative."

The NCAA will need cooperation from the NBA, powerful shoe and apparel companies such as Nike and Adidas and player agents to accomplish a good chunk of what the commission recommended. Within what the NCAA controls, there will be a need for consensus building among member schools with a wide-range of priorities. Compromise will likely be needed. But any differences should not be significant enough to stop implementation of the Rice Commission's recommendations, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said.

"I don't see anything that we have control over," Delany said, "that has an insurmountable political problem associated with it."