New NCAA boss wants to change NBA draft rules

August 19, 2010

Incoming NCAA President Mark Emmert is wasting little time making his mark on the organization headquartered on the western edge of downtown.

Last week Emmert, who is leaving his post as University of Washington president to take over as NCAA president, began restructuring management, and this week said he wants to change NBA eligibility rules for men’s college basketball players.

On Aug. 13, Emmert, who doesn’t officially take his new post until Nov. 1, announced a new management structure. The restructuring includes the departure of three executives, including long-time Executive Vice President Tom Jernstedt.

Jernstedt has been with the NCAA for 38 years, and has been instrumental in the operations of the men’s basketball tournament as well as women’s basketball, baseball and football. NCAA officials declined to elaborate on Jernstedt’s departure, only saying that his exit would take place at a mutually determined time. Jernstedt did not return a call seeking comment.

Dennis Cryder, senior vice president of branding and communications, and Elsa Cole, vice president of legal affairs and general counsel, will depart the staff effective Aug. 31, NCAA officials confirmed.

As part of the restructuring, the incoming president said he will combine the management of all 88 championships under one executive vice president. Greg Shaheen, senior vice president of Division I men’s basketball and business strategies, will serve as the interim executive vice president and report to the chief operating officer.

On Tuesday, Emmert told Seattle sports radio station WKJR-AM 950 that he favors the professional-eligibility rules for baseball over those that govern basketball. In baseball, a player can either turn professional after his senior year in high school or must wait until after his junior year in college.

In basketball, players currently are required to wait until one year after high school graduation, meaning many top players are playing only one year of college basketball, creating a “one and done” scenario derided by numerous college coaches and athletic directors.

“I think President Emmert is absolutely on the right track,” said Purdue University Athletic Director Morgan Burke. “We bring kids here to get a college education, and the one-and-done scenario sends the wrong message. It makes a mockery of what we’re all about, or at least what we’re all about at Purdue.”

Since the draft rules are governed by the sports’ professional leagues, it’s not clear what Emmert can do to change the system. But that doesn’t mean he won’t try.

Emmert told WKRJ he intends to “persuasively” discuss the matter with NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBA Players Association boss Billy Hunter.

“This is a situation where the NCAA can’t mandate anything, and jumping up and down and waving your arms doesn’t get it done,” Emmert said. “You need to sit down with the people that do have responsibility for this—the NBA—and say, ‘This is how useful it would be for us. How does it work for you?’”


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