NEW ORLEANS — The sport Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is leaving is run by an organization he doesn’t much recognize anymore.
Or like at all.
The 75-year-old coach, whose career ends after Duke is done at the Final Four, used the opportunity of what could be his last big news conference Friday to spell out issues he feels will haunt college basketball and the NCAA until they’re fixed. Most of his solutions had something to do with blowing up the entire operation and starting over.
“This is not the time to look at knits and bits,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s time to look at the whole thing.”
The biggest issue is the onslaught of “name, image and likeness” deals that have reshaped college sports since last summer in largely unregulated fashion. The deals give players the long-sought ability to make millions, but the NCAA has not figured out a way to regulate them, leaving that up to schools, state legislatures and, someday, maybe Congress.
Other issues include the newly relaxed transfer portal, the inequalities between men’s and women’s basketball, the growingly complex infractions process and the future of “One and Done.” That rule allows basketball players to enter the NBA after one year of school; it’s a rule that Krzyzewski has benefitted from as much as anyone over the last few decades of his 47-year career.
“Who does the NBA talk to in basketball for us?” Krzyzewski said. “They don’t know. I know (commissioner) Adam Silver better than anyone on the NCAA.”
Krzyzewski raised the issues as a follow-up to a question he’d received the day before when asked what he would ask NCAA President Mark Emmert. At that time, Coach K was somewhat unprepared for that question and answered, simply: “I think the first one is, where are we going? And who is going to be in charge?”
Given 24 hours to reflect, he came back to the interview room and, without being asked, suggested the NCAA has grown too big and lumbering to do the deft maneuvering required to streamline its behemoth rulebook and resolve its numerous big-ticket issues.
He suggested breaking up the dozens of committees and boards that populate the NCAA’s organizational chart. Ultimately, he’d like to see less centralization and more input from coaches and administrators who are in touch daily with players.
He suggested a football model – major college football is controlled by an entity, the College Football Playoff, that falls outside the NCAA’s purview – might be in order for men’s and women’s basketball, and maybe some other sports, too.
“Do they have the autonomy to handle situations at that level that never gets to the big house,” which is the NCAA headquarters, the coach asked.
“You’ve got to look at structure and organization and shared leadership,” the coach said.
He said that while he’s not against Congress helping shape some rules for college sports – it is trying to find solutions for NIL and gender disparities in college sports – it should be done with the guidance of lobbying groups and college insiders who know the landscape.
“Otherwise, you have absent congressmen who never know what the hell’s happening in their district” trying to shape college sports, Krzyzewski said.
The coach said that while his life has been college athletics, he could only see himself as an informal advisor for any changes that come after he retires.
“You should always talk to the people that are being affected by what’s going on now, not by people who are retired or people who are on a committee who don’t have a feel for it,” he said. “How do you get a feel for it? You have to talk. And a lot of the young coaches would be great in this.”