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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)


NEW YORK — The initial reaction around the country among conference commissioners and probably college presidents, too, is that the NBA's proposed plan of a "minor league" for the pro game is a great idea.

That's what John Swofford, commissioner of the ACC, suggested this week.

"I think it would be welcomed in most quarters," he said.

Swofford said it's time for the colleges to start being colleges again.

"Without knowing all the details about it, conceptually I think it might be a very good thing," Swofford said at the 65th ACC tournament in Brooklyn.

Swofford said this is an opportunity that universities, deep down, never thought they'd get. He said most colleges had come to the conclusion that there was nothing they could do to clean up the AAU and grassroots issues that have crept into the college game. By taking the college option away from players with little or no real interest in getting an education, Swofford said, the pressure is taken off the schools.

Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, said last week that he wants rules changes to basically do away with "one-and-done" players who use colleges as a springboard to an NBA career. According to an ESPN report by Brian Windhorst, Silver has been considering a plan to get the NBA more involved with elite high school players "for some time."

"In light of the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, Silver has been convinced that he needs to move faster with implementing some of these concepts," Windhorst wrote.

The NBA has also been in discussion with USA Basketball and the NBPA about summer camps and is even considering "partnerships" with shoe companies.

Swofford believes that a landscape change for college basketball is an opportunity that can't be missed.

"A lot of young guys aren't interested in going to college and prefer to go ahead and start their pro careers," he said. "The colleges and our programs continue to need to be educationally based, and maybe in a sense we need a reset on that. That would help us.

Swofford said any plan to do away with one-and-done players would be supported by most college administrators.

"The vast majority of us in college basketball want to see that done away with," he said.

Swofford wants rules clarified about where and when coaches can recruit and to do away with some arcane rules that get headlines and NCAA attention that don't fit the times.

"There are some aspects of our rules we need to quit worrying about because they're impractical and they really don't matter," he said. "Right now you can talk to an agent, but if you have a lunch or a dinner it's treated by some as if that's some huge loan being made, and they're not one in the same."

He said he had talked to every coach in the ACC, individually, and is convinced they're most shocked by the actions of the assistants who are entangled in the scandal with grassroots summer programs.

"That's been a real kick in the gut," he said.

But it's also an opportunity to do something about the state of the game at the youth level.

"You don't really want the kind of opportunity that this FBI puts on us," Swofford. "You don't want it to happen that way, but it has. If we don't collectively make something good come out of this, then shame on all of us. You can't miss this kind of opportunity to make something better that obviously needs to be made better."

Contact Ed Hardin at 336-373-7069, and follow @Ed_Hardin on Twitter.

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March 9, 2018


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