Idaho men’s basketball coach Don Verlin said the issues addressed by the Commission on College Basketball align with discussions college coaches had among themselves in their annual meetings at the NCAA Tournament.
From what he has seen of the commission report, “nothing surprised me after being in those head coaches’ meetings in San Antonio.”
Verlin said the commission’s inquiry into the state of college basketball is necessary.
“Based on the direction college basketball has been going, some changes had to be made.”
Key issues the NCAA commission is grappling with have their roots in the growth of summer basketball leagues for high school players.
“The power these non scholastic coaches have gotten to this point is amazing. We don’t deal as much with high school coaches anymore, which is sad. We deal with AAU coaches,” Verlin said.
Thinking back on his own experience as a high school player, Verlin spoke about the enduring effect coaches who were also high school teachers had on him.
“I’m not sure kids get that anymore.”
Where high school coaches generally have the best interest of their players in mind, Verlin speculated whether AAU coaches who are not teachers have that same concern for players. He said it would be “a tremendous benefit to our game” if the NCAA, USA Basketball and the NBA would take over the operation of summer leagues.
Although the commission at this point does not endorse adopting the rule used in baseball, where a player who elects to go to college is not eligible to be drafted by a professional team until after his third year of college, Verlin said, “I like the baseball rule. I think that has been real successful.”
He did note, however, it might be a challenge to adapt it to basketball. Professional baseball has minor leagues from Triple A to rookie ball.
“The NBA does not have that situation,” Verlin said. “There might not be enough places for all these kids to play in the developmental league.”
Verlin strongly endorsed the commission proposal that the NCAA have an independent group investigate schools accused of NCAA wrongdoing.
“There is no question that should be done. It’s the fairest way to get to the bottom of problems.”
In addition to trying to get its arms around the explosive growth of summer leagues, Verlin believes the commission is trying to bring greater transparency to the flow of money through college basketball and the NCAA.
“No one had foreseen the amount of money made from the college basketball tournament.”
He said, “we as coaches have been told the tournament funds the entire (NCAA) organization for a year. It pays everybody’s salaries, everything.
“Where is all this money going? Why is it not invested in enforcement and running summer leagues?”
While Idaho players are rarely contacted by agents while those players are still in school, Verlin said he does tell his team every year, “if an agent contacts you, you need to contact me, and I will contact the agent. All this stuff goes through me.” Verlin says he sees merit in a commission proposal that the NCAA certify players’ agents.
Trying to project how the commission report will affect the Idaho program is still speculative.
“Until the NCAA rules on what it’s going to do, I’m not sure how that will affect us, at this point,” Verlin acknowledged.
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