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April 28, 2008 - NCAA Basketball Academic Enhancement Group considers restructuring summers

The NCAA’s Basketball Academic Enhancement Group met on April 25 and discussed a variety of proposals aimed at improving the academic performance of men’s basketball players. The group is working toward enhancing off-season access by coaches to incoming players as the best chance to direct young players toward an academic setting; many of the players instead place basketball above academics as their college priority. In a press release from the NCAA, the group’s discussions have also included: the timing of the playing and practice season, high transfer rates between schools, the high rate of change of head coaches, and the culture of youth basketball.

The NCAA quoted Steve Weber, President of San Diego State University, who believed a restructured summer can have an impact. “We need to get these young men off to the right start in as positive of an environment as possible,” said Weber. One of the proposals in the working group would require institutions to offer financial aid for the summer term and in turn requiring the student-athlete to pass six credit hours for fall-term eligibility. The NCAA also stated its recently announced partnership with the NBA on a youth-basketball initiative will also help to direct young basketball players to better understand the academic setting of college.

Another consideration is to allow more access from coach to athlete during the summer – access that under current rules is not permitted. Coaches on the working group cited the time between the Final Four and the summer term as critical for many basketball players – especially those on the verge of transferring. Coaches argued that with their influence, the transfer rate might wane. However, opponents stated that increased access may improve an athlete’s athletic skills at the price of academics. According to the NCAA, working group members reasoned that if coaches and athletes are together for the right reasons, it might strengthen the partnership between the academic community and the coaches.