Leaders Discuss Improving Game

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A gathering yesterday to discuss ways to improve amateur basketball included representatives of the NBA, NCAA, USA Basketball, the Amateur Athletic Union, the National Federation of State High School Associations, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and shoe company officials. Conspicuously absent was Sonny Vaccaro , Reebok's director of grass-roots basketball.

Yesterday, NBA Commissioner David Stern and NCAA President Myles Brand issued a joint statement that read, in part: "We identified a number of areas of common interest and have formed a working group that will study these issues in greater detail. We are exploring options for a broad-based inclusive structure to address the identified needs of youth basketball."

This summer, Stern and Brand separately expressed the need to improve the academic and athletic components of amateur basketball, which has come under increasing scrutiny with reports of fraudulent high schools and with the struggles of USA Basketball, which finished third last month in the world championships in Japan.

In recent weeks, Vaccaro has discussed his proposal for a national basketball academy with Stern; Jerry Colangelo , managing director of USA Basketball; NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver ; and Kevin Lennon , NCAA vice president for membership services.

Vaccaro said last week that he planned to submit a written proposal outlining details for a basketball academy to NCAA officials by Oct. 1. He declined to comment last night.

-- Eric Prisbell

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