LAWRENCE — Like many of his contemporaries across the country, Bill Self spent his Wednesday morning digesting the sweeping college basketball reforms adopted by the NCAA.
While the longtime Kansas coach doesn’t agree with every policy and legislative change implemented by the governing body — and doesn’t see how any coach could — Self at least made this much clear in his comments shortly after the reforms were announced:
In the midst of college basketball’s ongoing corruption scandal, the time to debate the merit of these changes is over.
“Certainly there are some things in here that I think a lot of people will be happy and OK with, and there will be some things that I think there will be some guys that obviously would not see it quite as favorably,” Self said during a teleconference with reporters. “But the one thing I think we all have to do is we all have to be able to adjust to change and allow change to play out.”
Among Wednesday’s changes is a tweak allowing college players who request evaluation by the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, participate in the NBA combine and aren’t selected in the NBA Draft to return to the college level if they inform their school’s athletic director by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft. That policy will go into effect if and when the NBA and the NBA Players Association finalize a rule making undrafted athletes ineligible for a year if they choose to return to college.
Self said this reform sounds very good “in theory” but depends on if and when the NBA’s one-and-done policy is abolished.
“I think it’s going to be very interesting to see how that occurs (and) how the NBA and the Players Association feels that’d be the right way to handle that,” Self said.
Other major changes include the allowance of agent representation for the “elite senior prospect(s)” as identified by USA Basketball and for any college player requesting evaluation by the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee; an increase in the number of official visits schools can hold, from 24 to now 28 over a rolling, two-year period; and structural changes that will allow the NCAA power to punish programs for violations uncovered by outside established agencies.
The changes stem from recommendations made in April by the Rice Commission, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“Did something need to be done? I think in the eyes of many, something certainly needed to be done,” Self said. “I am actually one that felt like there could be changes that could be positive. But I also think that’s the way it is with everything when you’re dealing with the NCAA. Very rarely do you find anything that is 100 percent the way you would personally see it, and you could always tweak it. But I did think some changes could be made that would be very positive for our game.”
Self said Wednesday’s changes “will mean different things to different people” but added the intent all along was to find the best nonpartisan solutions for student-athletes, agents, enforcement agencies, apparel companies, coaches — “all the different arms” of college basketball.
“I think they are significant changes and there are some, if you look at it from a nonpartisan way, I do think there are some legitimate concerns about them,” Self said. “But we don’t know enough about it to know exactly how it all played out.”
Self said he can see an argument for the benefit of allowing college players to hire agents and lean on them as a resource in the NBA Draft process — “I think more information is good,” he added. He doesn’t, however, “have a feel” for how high school player access to agents will play out.
“I think what potentially could happen, though, is you have colleges now recruiting agents and their firms and not as focused maybe in their families,” Self said, “because when somebody makes a decision to sign with a certain agent, you’re going to have to definitely do a good job recruiting that particular party in case that youngster would decide to go to college when that decision’s made.
“I think in theory it’s good. I do think in theory there’s some positive things about it. But allowing agents to have total access and influence and accessibility and those sorts of things will become more difficult for colleges in recruiting if in fact those kids decide to pursue a collegiate education, in my opinion.”
Self was disappointed the NCAA didn’t adopt a policy that would allow up to two non-assistant coaches on the court to participate in coaching activities, a tweak that would increase the visibility and future opportunities provided to young staffers — “I think that’s a disappointment obviously from I would say all coaches’ perspective,” he said.
Still, despite taking a wait-and-see approach with most of the reforms, Self indicated he’s hopeful for the future.
“What may appear to be very negative may turn out to be positive,” Self said, “and certainly there’s been many things throughout the NCAA where, when changes were made, everybody thought the sky was falling and it turned out to be OK.”