The NCAA’s new early entry deadline is horrendous

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Exactly one week from today will mark the official start to the college basketball offseason.

The Final Four will have concluded, the coaching carousel will be in full swing and the exodus of college talent to the NBA will be … nearly over?

What? Why?

Exactly one week after the official start of the college basketball offseason we get the NCAA’s official deadline for declaring for the NBA Draft. That’s right. As of April 10th, any player that wants to keep their collegiate eligibility intact will have to have officially withdrawn their name from consideration for the NBA Draft.

Think about that.

April 10th. More than two and a half months before the actual draft takes place. Do you know how much changes in two and a half months? Do you know the swings that a prospect can make as a result of his interviews and his individual workouts and his performance at the combine?

As recently as 2009, players were allowed to declare for the draft and continue working out for NBA teams until 10 days before the draft actually takes place. That’s mid-June. That gives them more than enough time to make the correct decision regarding their future.

The past two years, that deadline was pushed back until early May. And while early May only gave the athletes little more than a week to try and gather all the information they can about their future, at least they were able to get actual feedback from actual NBA personnel.

Not so anymore. Jonathon Givony explains:

Since the NCAA bars third parties (even family members) of college players from reaching out to NBA teams to discuss their draft stock and the NBA itself has strict no-contact rules regarding the way teams can communicate with players who are not officially draft-eligible (before the early-entry list is released in early May), the only way an underclassman can gather information about his draft stock is through his college head coach. Furthermore, the head coach is only allowed to talk with the principal basketball operations executive from each team (ie: the general manager), according to NBA rules, and the underclassman may not participate in or be present during any such conversation.

Yes, the players do get a chance to hear from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, but that group is extremely cautious with the information they provide — you don’t want to tell a kid he is a first-round lock just to see him go undrafted — and they are giving out that information almost three months before the draft takes place.

Once again, the NCAA is screwing over their players. The official party line for this change, according to the NCAA, “to help keep student-athletes focused on academics in the spring term and to give coaches a better idea of their roster for the coming year before the recruiting period is closed.”

Academics. Right. Because big-time basketball teams don’t spend the majority of March on the road, be it to play in their conference tournament or the NCAA tournament.

No, the reason that this change was made — the reason that the NCAA is ok with making the most important decision in the lives of these athletes as difficult as possible — is the second part of that quote.

“To give coaches a better idea of their roster for the coming year.”

The coaches were tired of finding out in mid-June that they would be losing one of their best players. They were tired of having to scrounge through the rubble of that comprises the eligible, uncommitted players at that point in the year. In simple terms, these coaches didn’t want to make their jobs harder by trying to help the players under their direction make the correct decision regarding the NBA.

That’s abhorrent. It’s inexcusable. As John Calipari told the Sporting News last spring, “They’ve done their good for college basketball. This should be about, ‘How can we help these kids make a good decision?'”

Forcing them to decide on April 10th is not the answer.

But, technically, April 10th is not the last day that a player can declare for the draft. It’s the NCAA-mandated withdrawal deadline. The NBA’s early-entry deadline is April 29th, which means that as long as the player is quietly looking into draft standing, he has an extra 19 days to officially decide.

And to be honest, I wouldn’t complain if every single underclassmen considering entering the NBA Draft waited until the April 29th deadline to surprise their coach with the good news.

Here’s the complete NBA Draft timeline, from the gentlemen over at Draft Express:

April 3: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee Application Deadline
April 6: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee Response Deadline
April 10: NCAA Early Entry “Withdrawal” Deadline
April 29: NBA Draft Early Entry Eligibility Deadline (11:59 pm ET)
May 3 or May 4: NBA Draft Early Entry Candidates Released
May 30: NBA Draft Lottery
June 6-8: NBA Combine/Pre-Draft Camp (Chicago)
June 18: NBA Draft Early Entry Withdrawal Deadline (5:00 pm ET)
June 28: 2012 NBA Draft

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.