SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports' Dan Wolken breaks down the changes coming to the college basketball world. USA TODAY
Let’s see if I’ve got this right:
The NCAA now says it’s OK for the basketball players they oversee to legally hire agents. Cool. No more behind-the-scenes and illegal shenanigans that everyone knows has been a college basketball fact of life.
And . . .
The NCAA says a college underclassman that was invited to the NBA Draft Combine can enter the NBA draft and then return to college if he’s not one of the lucky 60 selected in the two-round event.
And . . .
I didn’t scour all the fine print — and there’s other stuff that’s changing, too — but my bottom line is this:
It’s wonderful news if you’re a college basketball player. The NCAA is lessening its grip on athletes who couldn’t legally share in the financial bonanza their ability provides schools and outside sports-related businesses — like major television revenue and profits from the video gaming world.
The NCAA allowing agents to skip through what was once supposed to be a double-locked door with armed guards hopefully is a signal that allowing college athletes the right to market their name, likeness and image is coming soon to a campus and car dealership near you.
How else, I wonder, will underclassman basketball players be able to hire agents? They probably don’t come cheap — unless they’re acting in good faith (i.e. free) until the college athlete they’re representing is contractually bound to hire them for future professional basketball dealings.
So to recap this summer’s NCAA reversals:
►It’s now all right to have its tournaments in states that have legalized sports gambling.
That happened in May, when the NCAA came across with: "to ensure integrity in sport, the NCAA supports a federal model addressing legalized gambling, and has suspended its championship host policy related to sports wagering."
With a dozen-plus states expected to legalize wagering on sporting events, the NCAA would have run out of credible tournament sites.
Of course, they had to change their policy.
“Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being," the NCAA’s May press release stated, and this week came this:
“These changes will promote integrity in the game, strengthen accountability and prioritize interests of our student-athletes over every other factor.”
More sports betting coverage:
- Peterson: Sports gambling = pay college athletes now. . .or else
- Should Iowa legalize wagers on Hawkeye, Cyclone games? You bet, some say
- Editorial: Iowa must revitalize gambling treatment program
- Iowa Lottery discusses role it could have in sports betting
- Finney: Sure, let's add sports gambling. How many more lives can it ruin?
►Want to opt for the NBA draft — and then return to college without losing eligibility if you’re not as good as you think you are?
No problem — if you’re one of the 60 or so NBA Draft Combine invitees, and if you’ve got the OK from an undergraduate advisory committee.
Neither is automatic, by the way. Lindell Wigginton, as good as the Iowa State point guard is, didn’t get a 2018 combine invitation. He withdrew from the draft process after trying out for multiple NBA teams. He’ll be the centerpiece for a Cyclones team that can be very good during the 2018-19 season.
The returning-to-college option should be available to everyone, whether they’re a combine invitee or not, but baby steps, I guess. Maybe that’s the next NCAA rules addendum to hit the inbox.
►Need someone to help wade through all the testing-of-the-NBA-waters specifics? (Wigginton’s dad handled all that, by the way).
Legally hire an agent — as long as you request an evaluation from the undergraduate advisory committee — and then take out a loan if you or your family can’t afford the bill.
Agents can pay for meals and transportation for players and their families during the agent selection process, and for meetings with professional teams. They can be part of an evaluation process that also, hopefully, includes the head coach.
This won’t clean up college basketball, however, it’s at least a step closer to athletes having the ability to test the financial-marketing waters that their name, likeness and image might bring.
And hopefully that’s coming next.
NBA officials told Iowa State's Lindell Wigginton to sharpen his decision-making skills and to be a consistent shot-maker Randy Peterson, email@example.com
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @RandyPete.