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Restoring Joy To Bracketville: Problems Facing College Basketball

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Michael DiSanto

Dr. McDevitt

Legal Environment of Business

28 April 2006

Grade Replacement: Law Review Report

"Restoring Joy to Bracketville: Problems Facing College Basketball... Stimulate Responses from the NCAA and the Newly Formed Student Basketball Council"

Section 1: Executive Summary

I. Introduction

This law review, written by John Slossen of the Sports Lawyers Association, is a law review response to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's formation of the Student Basketball Council (SBC). The law review looks at major problems facing college basketball, the NCAA's response to the problems, and the legislative process in which the Student Basketball Council was formed.

The SBC is an organization composed of forty-eight student basketball athletes. The function of the SBC is for students to voice their opinions on many issues that affect college basketball. These students recognize that many problems exist within college basketball such as rule violations of players and the disparity between the large amounts of money the NCAA generates and the minimal compensation of the student athletes. The SBC began as a small working group organized and funded by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and now has become a council that exists outside the structure of the NCAA. The SBC has no official role or power within the NCAA. (*126)

II. Problems Facing College Basketball

The first problem the article explores is the role the media plays that takes away from the enjoyment of the sport. For instance, in the 2000 NCAA tournament, Nike advertising created a fictional place known as Bracketville that began to portray the city as a lustful, gloomy place, in no way related to the sport of basketball. In a year filled with enjoyable stories and athletic heroics, the media focused on player suspensions that were a result of players taking money from unauthorized benefactors, making a point to vilifying those athletes in the process. Other problems facing the game were an increase in the number of students leaving college basketball to sign contracts in the NBA and the extremely low graduation rates in many Division I schools.

Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delaney summarized the prevalent concerns of the media, coaches, players, and school administrators within college basketball. In his editorial, he posted the issues that we have examined. Delaney proved to the NCAA that they needed to strengthen their relationships with and between players and coaches as well as improve the overall image of college basketball and its athletes. (*127)

III. The NCAA's Response

In response to Delaney's editorial, the NCAA's Board of Directors approved the creation of the "Division I Working Group to Study Basketball Issues" in August of 1998. The group was asked to examine all the issues that have an impact on the game of college basketball and to make legislative suggestions that would be reviewed by the Division I governance structure. The Working Group began to gather information by conducting surveys and hearings for individuals and groups that had invested interest in the welfare of college basketball.

The working group focused their suggestions and recommendations on three key areas of concern: (1) Enhancement of the collegiate educational experience, (2) the recruitment of basketball prospective student athletes, and (3) the image of the sport. The Working Group generated thirty one separate proposals. On April 27, 2000, those proposals were reviewed by the Division I Management Council, who then forwarded the recommendations to the Division I Board of Directors. One such recommendation was that the NCAA should place a cap limiting the number of available scholarships a basketball program can give. The Working Group believed this would lessen the non-scholastic external influences that affect student athletes. This recommendation, although it was approved by the Council and the Board, proved to be a controversial proposal. Many media figures claimed this would have a negative impact on the sport because it would alienate groups of people dedicated to basketball that may not be able to afford a college education.

There were many recommendations that were rejected by the Management Council. For example, the Working Group suggested increasing the number of scholarships a school was able to give if their graduation rates exceeded a certain point. The Management Council felt that placing positive academic incentives on schools to graduate more students could create an environment that would foster the falsification of the student athlete's grades.

IV. The Student Basketball Council

Of the thirty one proposals from the working group, only eight were accepted by the Management Council. The approved suggestions

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