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NCAA announces major changes to college basketball, including allowing undrafted players to return to school

Undrafted players can return to school, players can hire agents, and more

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Texas A&M vs Providence Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The federal investigation into college basketball recruiting highlighted the need for massive reform in the sport, so the NCAA announced Wednesday that it is implementing some widespread rule changes.

The full list of changes can be found here, but here are the ones that are the most groundbreaking.*

  • Student-athletes will be able to participate in the NBA draft and return to school if undrafted, pending future action from the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.
  • Students who wish to enter the draft also must request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which will provide valuable information to assist student-athletes in making the decision to turn pro or stay in school.
  • College basketball players who request an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation, participate in the NBA combine and aren’t drafted can return to school as long as they notify their athletics director of their intent by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft. (It sounds like only undrafted players who attended the NBA combine are allowed to return to school.)
  • Division I schools will be required to pay for tuition, fees and books for men’s and women’s basketball players who left school and returned later to the same school to earn their degree. The NCAA is establishing a fund for schools who are otherwise unable to provide this aid.
  • Elite high school basketball recruits and college players can be represented by an agent who can help them make informed decisions about going pro. (USA Basketball defines what “elite” is.)
  • Agents must be certified by an NCAA program with standards for behavior and consequences for violations.
  • Agents can pay for meals and transportation for players and their families if the expenses are related to the agent selection process. Also, the student cannot miss class, and the money must be spent where the student lives or attends school. Additionally, high school and college student-athletes and their families can have meals, transportation and lodging paid for by an agent if those expenses are associated with meetings with the agent or a pro team.
  • High school basketball student-athletes can make more frequent campus visits paid for by colleges (referred to as official visits). The visits can begin as soon as the summer before their junior year. (Up to 15 official visits are allowed)
  • Schools now can pay for 28 official visits for recruits (34 for national service academies) over a rolling, two-year period.
  • Basketball-related events for high school students will be subject to more rigorous certification requirements to ensure transparency in operations and finances.
  • People charged with investigating and resolving NCAA cases can accept information established by another administrative body, including a court of law, government agency, accrediting body or a commission authorized by a school. (Meaning the FBI’s evidence can be used to punish schools.)
  • University presidents and chancellors will be personally accountable for their athletics program following the rules. Presidents and chancellors join all athletics staff in personally affirming the athletics program meets obligations for monitoring rules compliance, which is required to be eligible for the postseason. Also, schools are required to cooperate fully during NCAA investigations and take appropriate corrective action.
  • Those who break rules face stronger penalties, including longer postseason bans, longer head coach suspensions, increased recruiting restrictions and additional fines.
  • The recruiting calendar, which creates more restrictions around events not sponsored by high schools, will allow coaches to attend additional high school-sponsored events. The new rules add four-day recruiting periods (Monday through Thursday) in April but do not increase the limit on days individual coaches can recruit.
  • Also, coaches will be allowed to attend and evaluate recruits at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp in mid-June. Additionally, coaches will be able to attend events during the last two weekends of June if the events are approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations; organized by groups affiliated with high schools or high school coaching associations; and occur at middle schools, high schools or colleges. Coaches also can attend one weekend youth basketball event in early July.
  • The calendar also allows coaches to attend NCAA youth development camps in late July, a new collaboration between the NCAA, USA Basketball, the NBA and the NBPA.
  • Two independent groups will be appointed to oversee the investigation and resolution of cases defined as “complex.”
  • The first independent group will include both external investigators with no school or conference affiliation and select NCAA enforcement staff. The second group, composed of 15 people with backgrounds in law, higher education or sports and not affiliated with NCAA schools or conferences, will review the findings from the first group, oversee the case hearing and decide penalties, if any.

*Info from NCAA press release