Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said today college basketball needs its own governing body apart from other NCAA sports. Krzyzewski said that schools are losing underclassmen to the NBA at an alarming rate and that college basketball is changing at a "torrid pace" that the NCAA can't keep up with.
"The game is played on a day-to-day basis," Krzyzewski said in his first news conference since he had hip replacement surgery three months ago. "It must be governed on a day-to-day basis. That's the only way to really solve problems. Agents watch our sport every day; they are always looking for an opportunity. But there's nobody in the NCAA watching us every day.
"I know it goes against the structure of the NCAA. The NCAA is not sport-specific; the rule book is all-encompassing. But the time has come to make a change."
The issue of players leaving early gained greater significance for Krzyzewski this spring when sophomores Elton Brand and William Avery and freshman Corey Maggette became the first three Duke players to declare for the NBA draft with college eligibility remaining.
Krzyzewski credited the NCAA for forming the Division I Working Group to Study Basketball Issues, led by Syracuse Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw, to examine the sport and come up with proposed NCAA rule changes.
Krzyzewski said Shaw and his advisors on this topic were "brilliant," but none of them runs college basketball full time.
"He is not the chancellor of basketball," Krzyzewski said. "He's the chancellor of Syracuse. [Overseeing the committee] should not be a secondary job. It should be a primary job."
One proposal is to make freshman men's players -- who have been eligible to compete since 1972 -- ineligible. But Krzyzewski said the complex issue requires more than one answer, and he doesn't think it will be approved.
"It's a good move from an educational aspect," he said. "But then another league would be formed. If you want to go to college, and I want to play and keep developing as a player, then I will gain a competitive edge on you in the year you are sitting out. So, in the future fewer people will be coming into school."
The proposal to make male players ineligible for their freshman year was prompted by concerns over poor graduation rates, a freshman's ability to adapt to college life and the greater willingness of underclassmen to jump to the NBA. The 27-member committee is expected to make its recommendations in late July. The NCAA Board of Directors might not rule until October 2000.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany conceded that barring freshmen from basketball could encourage them to jump from high school to the NBA draft. "But to me, that should not be a primary consideration," Delany said, according to the Associated Press. "Those players are not going to be in school very long anyway. At the end of the day, it's not an NCAA problem. That's a problem for the NBA Players' Association."
Krzyzewski disagrees. "The NCAA is negligent," he said.
Nevertheless, Krzyzewski is taking his case to the NBA as well. He will be in New York Tuesday as part of a 16-member panel that primarily will discuss possible rules changes in the pro game, although he said he hopes to discuss underclassmen jumping to the NBA before they are ready.
"If you're not mature enough to handle that [NBA] lifestyle, changing the width of the lane won't change that," Krzyzewski said.
Meanwhile, Krzyzewski's hip has improved enough that he can make jokes about tying his shoes. He's eager to resume coaching, even if it will be difficult to match the 69 victories and 31-1 ACC record of the last two seasons. That record might help four Duke players -- Trajon Langdon and the three underclassman -- be chosen in the first round.
"None of our guys is bigger than the program," he said. "We've had great players here, and we're going to have very good players.
"If we don't win the national championship ever, or we don't go 16-0 in the ACC next year, doesn't mean we won't be in contention. We have visions of being real good. I'm not down about that."