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NCAA VP for hoops Gavitt meeting with coaches about reform

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s vice president of men’s basketball, will be making the rounds this month, bouncing from conference meeting to conference meeting, talking with coaches and athletic directors about reforming college hoops.

On Tuesday at a posh hotel with a poolside view of the McDowell Mountains in Arizona, Gavitt spent time with the Big 12 and Pac-12. Gavitt also worked in a call with USA Basketball to discuss what to do with the summer youth circuit. A week after Condoleezza Rice presented the Commission on College Basketball’s report on how to fix the sport, part of the work that needs to be done is figure out what exactly it all means.

“There’s a lot to do to make that happen because the recommendations are really sound, but there’s an awful lot of interpretation, I think, that has to go into what exactly the recommendation is and how we put it into practice,” said Gavitt, the son of the late Dave Gavitt, who helped found the Big East.

The Rice Commission made proposals ranging from changing NBA draft rules to hitting NCAA rule-breakers with harsher penalties. Dan Gavitt will lead the reformation of summer recruiting events, with a goal of giving college basketball coaches NCAA-run events where they can connect with high school players outside of the AAU circuit.

“We want to achieve what the recommendations are meant to achieve, but it’s a very unorganized and unregulated space, much of which will continue to exist,” Gavitt said.

At the heart of an FBI investigation of college basketball was the convergence of apparel companies, agents, AAU basketball and college coaches. Whether the Rice Commission can remedy the issues that led to the indictments of 10 people, including several assistant coaches, remains to be seen.

“I think those are a very complex issue,” Gavitt said. “I hope they help to address that. I think time will tell. There’s an awful lot there and some of the things that we might be able to get at very specifically, the root cause of all that, may be out of the purview of what we can do and thus weren’t part of the recommendations. But what the recommendations were I think can help and we’re committed to making them happen.”

The Rice Commission also recommended the NCAA and USA Basketball, with some help from the NBA, establish an evaluation system for youth players to put the best 100 or so on a path to playing for the national team and maybe jumping straight to the pros, while others would be categorized as having pro potential but not necessarily from high school. And still others would be categorized as having Division I scholarship potential.

“We need to figure out if those are the right numbers,” he said. “If those are the right levels. How is each level different in terms of how we set up for July? That’s the kind of level of detail that we’ve already started digging into.”

Kansas coach Bill Self’s program was mentioned in the most recent updated indictment to come from New York prosecutors, though no one related to the program is known to be in trouble with the law and Self has claimed no wrongdoing by Kansas. Self is also a member of the NCAA’s basketball oversight committee. He said the oversight committee will play a role in making some of the interpretations Gavitt believes are necessary to turn the recommendations into NCAA legislation.

“What the committee is designed to do is look out for the best interest of the game, and it has been decided that this is in the best interest of the game,” Self said. “We will work to try to look into intended consequences and unintended consequences.”

The commission recommended increasing penalties for the most severe NCAA violations to five-year postseason bans and lifetime bans for coaches.

“I don’t know if I have an opinion on all those things yet,” Self said. “In theory, I think they’re positive. In theory, but you have to be able to dissect it and get into all those things. I haven’t studied it. I’ve read (the report) like everybody else has. And certainly from what I read, I read more positive than negative.”

The NCAA will need cooperation from the NBA, powerful shoe and apparel companies such as Nike and Adidas and player agents to accomplish a good chunk of what the commission recommended. Within what the NCAA controls, there will be a need for consensus building among member schools with a wide-range of priorities. Compromise will likely be needed. But any differences should not be significant enough to stop implementation of the Rice Commission’s recommendations, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said.

“I don’t see anything that we have control over,” Delany said, “that has an insurmountable political problem associated with it.”

Follow Ralph D. Russo on Twitter @ralphDrussoAP

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

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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

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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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.