NCAA rules increase official visits, expand agents’ role heading into 2018-19 season

Men’s basketball has sent players to the NBA after completing their college careers at GW for the past three consecutive years.

Had any of those athletes decided to declare for the NBA draft and sign with an agent before completing their college eligibility, their time as Colonials would have been cut short regardless of the draft outcomes.

Soon, following an “expected rule change” by the NBA, men’s basketball players will not necessarily have to give up their NCAA eligibility if they decide to enter the draft, according to an NCAA release.

The eligibility distinction is one of several rules announced by the NCAA’s Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors earlier this month. The new guidelines follow a 2017 federal investigation that uncovered several major universities’ involvement in bribery and fraud activities, and subsequent proposals by the Commission on College Basketball in April aimed to improve the “deeply troubled” state of the sport.

Men’s basketball head coach Maurice Joseph said parts of the game have “gotten away” and that moves to reform are positive.

“We’re supportive of any conversations that attempt to ensure the integrity of our game,” Joseph said. “It remains to be seen how this will impact the landscape, but we all need to be open to change.”

Some of the most pronounced policy changes include the newly introduced ability for college athletes who have been evaluated by the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, and high school athletes deemed ‘elite’ by USA Basketball, to be represented by an agent during the NBA draft process should they declare.

“Perhaps somewhere in the future there may be one player on the GW basketball team that might enjoy some very minor benefits as a result of this.”

Prospective student athletes will also have the ability to go on more official visits on an earlier schedule, and coaches can now attend additional high school-sponsored events during the recruitment process.

Athletic director Tanya Vogel said many of the effects of the new policy changes are not clear, and will not be determined until they arise at GW.

Experts said the policy changes surrounding the NBA draft process will have a minimal impact on most schools but will nonetheless change the way GW deals with its best players.

“Perhaps at some point in the future GW will have another player such as Yinka Dare attend its school, and perhaps somewhere in the future there may be one player on the GW basketball team that might enjoy some very minor benefits as a result of this,” Marc Edelman, a law professor at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business, said.

With many of these proposed policies contingent upon actions taken by the NBA and the NBA Players Association, experts said a “wait-and-see” approach has been taken at schools across the country as they analyze the scope of impact the NCAA’s changes might have on basketball programs.

The committee increased the total number of allowable official visits to a Division I program from five to 15, which went into effect Aug. 15.

Basketball student athletes are now permitted to make five official visits starting Aug. 1 before their junior year of high school until the end of their junior year.

They are allowed another five between the end of their junior year and Oct. 15 after high school graduation, and five more between Oct. 15 after high school graduation and the rest of their college eligibility. They cannot, however, visit a school more than once per year.

The increase in school-funded recruitment visits suggests an increased budget for basketball programs, including GW’s, Vogel said.

“Basketball is a priority for us so we’ll be certain to adapt to these new measures on par with our competition,” Vogel said.

Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade said that more official visits and recruiting events create opportunities for students to consider a wider array of schools.

“Anytime you can build up stronger and stronger relationships in the recruiting process, then that’s a positive,” she said.

When it comes to declaring for the NBA draft, certain student athletes will be allowed to return to college basketball if they go undrafted. Previously, once a student declared for the draft and signed with an agent, they gave up their eligibility to play in college basketball whether or not they were drafted.

Now, college athletes will be allowed agent representation if they request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which went into effect Aug. 8.

“The reality is that the NCAA’s changes are incredibly minor when compared to the gravity of potential wrongdoing involving collegiate sports.”

“It gives a little bit more flexibility and autonomy to the student athlete, which at the end of the day, I think they deserve,” McGlade said.

The proposed policy changes surrounding the NBA draft process will likely affect programs considered more elite than GW’s if they are implemented.

The last time a Colonial was selected in the draft was in 2006, when then-junior guard Danilo “J.R.” Pinnock was drafted in the second round to the Dallas Mavericks.

Five Colonials have since entered the league, but all were through free agency.

With only 13 scholarships able to be divided among players, this new rule would make it necessary for coaches to consider whether to hold onto a player’s scholarship during the draft process instead of allocating the money to another player.

Some coaches, professors and sports lawyers have been critical of the new rules for not addressing controversial issues like paying college athletes. Many argue that the rules do not aptly address issues of corruption within the NCAA and will only impact a handful of players.

“The NCAA has purported to be making substantial reforms to its rules,” Edelman – who specializes in sports law – said. “The reality is that the NCAA’s changes are incredibly minor when compared to the gravity of potential wrongdoing involving collegiate sports.”

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