Author: Gina Baucom (Consultant and Educator)

 

The NCAA Commission on Basketball Change headed by Condeleza Rice has made some pretty'sweeping suggestions. I have read the recommendations and the commissions reasons behind them but want to bring a little perspective to this discussion. I am impressed by the credentials of all members of the commission but they are lacking one thing, Real World Experience!

Those of us who are on the working end of this discussion have a very different view. Our view comes from the bottom looking up. Not from the top of the elite mountain of the highest level of sports, as these fine people do. Let’s be clear, the top 1% of high school basketball players will not be affected by any changes made by this commission or others. Those “blue chip” players have the attention of every university and college coach who swoon over them, follow them on social media, and whenever possible, praise them and promise them the moon to bring their talents to their institutions.

I want to discuss the 99% who are not invited to the McDonalds All-American Game or any other national event and who are not looking for their home (for 9 months) while they wait on the NBA to call. These players are the forgotten ones in this debate. Yes, some bad actors have broken the rules. They didn’t break the rules and risk their careers for those players in the 99%, they risk everything for those top 1% and probably will again, no matter the rules. Shouldn’t someone, somewhere look past the cream at the top and realize there are other players on the floor helping that “one and done” guy. Those other players on the court and rosters are the ones that need a voice.

Most high school players that are working hard in school and on the court just want to find a college or university that see’s what they have to offer a team and give them the opportunity to continue to play the game they love and get an education while doing it. Easy enough you might think, but wait, how do those coaches and schools find and evaluate this group of players' If the NCAA gets its way, they won’t!

I have been a high school coach and athletic director in public, charter and independent high schools. I know and understand what these men and women do to give their teams and players the best opportunities they can. I also know that these coaches and schools cannot provide the financial support necessary to travel to showcase tournaments during July, as the NCAA proposal states. In fact most State High School Athletic Associations have strict rules about when teams can even practice or train during the summer that prevent coaches from coaching their teams and even if they could coach them without restrictions over the summer, what high school coach making a stipend, will commit the time and money necessary to offset what these players would have with their AAU teams.

If these recommendations are passed, the problems this commission are trying to eliminate will only pass from the 1% of the DI recruits to 100% of the high school student-athletes. States and schools have worked hard for years to break the trend of school hoping for athletics so that student-athletes can get the best possible education to prepare them for college and beyond. The elite basketball schools, like IMG, Oak Hill, Montverde Academy, Findley Prep and others will become the breeding ground for corruption. Players will have no option but to leave their home schools and compete for spots on teams at schools that can provide access to coaches and travel, if they can afford it. Is this really a good option' Private schools will benefit from this by being able to pull players from public schools that can’t provide these opportunities and thus depleting the local schools of talent. This will surely benefit those who can afford private schools and be another disadvantage for those who can’t. This will create a larger imbalance in lower-income areas and less opportunities for those athletes to get scholarships.

No system of recruiting is perfect or without issues but as admirable as it might seem to place the futures of these players solely in the hands of high school coaches and systems that can barely offer a basic game schedule, seems to cause greater problems for a larger population. These proposed changes could be detrimental for all involved but certainly for the 99% of players out there who are just following their passion and pursuing their dream. Don’t rob them of their opportunity! #SaveThe99% #NCAA #4StrategicSport