But it still was striking when Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott at a news conference in Las Vegas on Thursday not only advocated for the NBA to step in to try to remove some of the problems facing college basketball these days — but practically got on his knees and begged the league to do so.
“We are certainly advocating for elite prospects to have a choice to go to the NBA or an enhanced G League out of college,” Scott said. “So they are not forced, as they are now, by the NBA’s rules to have to come to college and play in a collegiate system for a year.
“It’s our sense that that would be an important step in terms of having more clarity of purpose and mission so that those young men that really solely focused on wanting to get paid to play basketball, they can go do that and they have more better options quicker without having to come through the collegiate system, and those that are interested in the tremendous benefits that higher education has to offer and being student-athletes and working toward a degree and all the other benefits that you get from that, they come to college sports.”
It would have been a landmark statement if that was all Scott said. After all, Scott’s conference is at the center of the controversy currently plaguing the NCAA. His conference’s regular season and conference tournament champion, Arizona, has had its star player (DeAndre Ayton, the potential No. 1 pick in this year’s draft) and coach (Sean Miller) caught up in the scandal and has already lost an assistant coach over it.
But Scott wasn’t done.
“We think there are some very positive analogues out there. Major League Baseball’s rule where young phenoms can do just that,” he continued. “They can go right to the MLB or they can go to college. If they go to college, they’re there for three years and they can be redrafted.
“It’s been encouraging to see leaders in the game like LeBron James and Steve Kerr commenting recently about that, and I’m encouraged, because I think leading voices in the NBA are going to have to be part of helping come up with that solution and driving change in the NBA’s eligibility rules.”
So not only did Scott call for the end of the practice of “one-and-done” — the idea that players spend a year between high school and the NBA — but he proposed his own solution to the problem and praised various famous NBA figures for speaking out about the topic, all of whom called for reforms to the system, as well.
And all of that was just in his opening statement, as Scott returned to the subject time and again throughout his meeting with reporters.
If there was any doubt about one-and-dones coming to an end, and coming to an end soon, this should be the final nail in that coffin.
The only question now is how long such a plan will take to enact. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is currently heading up a panel looking into changes the NCAA can make — a panel Scott made recommendations to, and one NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said he is waiting to conclude before deciding how the league will proceed.
But the fact that someone as prominent as Scott came out and advocated for such significant changes almost guarantees Rice’s committee will do the same. From there, it will be up to Silver to determine whether — or, more accurately, when — the league will go about actually changing the rules.
Given the momentum behind the calls for reform, it seems possible something could happen this summer — which could, in turn, result in implementation as soon as the 2019 NBA draft. That would have its own cascading consequences on next year’s draft class and beyond.
Regardless of when it happens, though, or what form it takes, comments like the ones Scott made last week only reinforce that the changes are coming.
It’s just a matter of when they arrive, and in what form they take.
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