NCAA rulebook underwent major changes on Saturday

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You might have missed it on Saturday, as the news came through the grapevine during the best afternoon and evening of hoops that we have seen yet this season, but there were significant rule changes made to the NCAA rulebook.

The NCAA’s Board of Directors voted in changes ” to deregulate in several areas, including personnel, amateurism, recruiting, eligibility and awards, benefits and expenses, and create a set of commitments that will serve as the foundation for all future rules changes.”

You can read the full list of rules that were changed in the NCAA’s release here, but some of the notable changes that have been made:

– There are no longer limits on the number of phone contacts that coaches can have with recruits. They are also now allowed to mail as many printed documents to recruits as they would like. Schools can also now hire recruiting coordinators that aren’t on the official coaching staff.

– Programs can now provide “reasonable entertainment in conjunction with competition or practice”, which means that the oft-cited rule that bagels, but not cream cheese, could be provided is not longer a running joke on the NCAA’s ineptitude.

– Players will be allowed to “receive $300 more than actual and necessary expenses, provided the expenses come from an otherwise permissible source”, meaning as long as it’s not coming from a booster, an agent, a runner or a pro team.

Dan Wolken’s take on the changes is spot-on:

A change like that, Emmert said, would have probably been a “drag-out fight” as recently as last year. But with the NCAA coming under heavy attack for its lengthy rulebook and how it approaches the increasingly complicated issues of amateurism, a new philosophy is necessary. There are bigger issues to deal with than how many times coaches text recruits.

“We’re not going to overcome those natural competitive advantages people have, but when student-athletes step onto the field they know the other team has same number of players and scholarships,” Emmert said. “They may have a fancier stadium, but we have a chance to beat these guys because there’s competitive fairness. We heard that again and again from student-athletes. That’s what they wanted. They’re smart kids. They know who’s got the shiny locker room and who doesn’t. It’s, ‘Can I go out there and play against these guys?’ I think the students got that faster than the rest of us.”

That’s a completely different tone coming out of the NCAA, but these are different times. Emmert, for all the criticism he has endured, seems committed to reforming the organization into a more nimble beast that can serve the interests of a diverse group of schools while maintaining (as best it can, given the money involved) the bedrock principles of amateur athletics.

This doesn’t solve all of the problems involved with the NCAA rulebook and their commitment to fallacy of amateurism in college athletics.

But getting rid of the lines in the rulebook that are utterly inane and laughable is a significant move in the right direction.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?