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Emmert: NCAA Basketball Reforms Coming Next Season

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NCAA president Mark Emmert on Thursday addressed the bribery scandal that rocked men's basketball last fall, implicating assistant coaches at several Division I schools and prompting the firing of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.

Speaking to a packed room at the Indiana Convention Center during the NCAA's 2018 convention, Emmert said changes are coming to college basketball by next season, and that the association must own its problems and embrace change.

"Scandals that call into question our commitment to academic integrity make whatever praise we have of our highest graduation rates ring pretty hollow. And we have to recognize that we can't dance around those things. We can't make excuses for them," Emmert said. "How do we respond? Well, I think first of all, by not retreating from it. By not getting under our desks."

As reported by ESPN.com, the independent Commission on College Basketball plans to report findings and issue recommendations to the NCAA board of governors April 25. The governors will then direct the Division I Board of Directors and the Division I Council to draft legislation, with the intent to pass it in August. Said Emmert, "We've all made a commitment to have meaningful change, not trivial change, in place by tip-off 2018."

Among the steps the NCAA is taking is the creation of the association's first formal strategic plan in 14 years. Society in general is more cynical today, according to Emmert, and the association must confront that fact, beginning with basketball. An FBI investigation of the scandal — which centered on coaches receiving money to direct recruits to attend schools with Adidas-sponsored basketball programs — is ongoing.

"What we saw with that FBI investigation is Exhibit A for demanding action," Emmert said. "A coach, allegedly, who takes a bribe in order to steer a student who has placed his trust in that coach — to steer that young man to a financial adviser who is going to bilk him out of money is disgusting.

"It's corrupt. It's just wrong. And it feeds all the cynics."

Insisting that "the core values of college sports are worth protecting," Emmert reiterated that the NCAA must not cower from its critics. "The reality is that some of the criticism is justified," he said. "We've got to look those problems straight in the eye."

 

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