yes, i am available to give your Blue Ribbon Committee a sheen of respectability
I mean it wasn't going to be any different. The NCAA's Look We Hired Condi Rice Again commission has delivered their deliverable, a 52-page report about "putting the 'college' back in College basketball." As with all these things it's more of a CYA activity than a genuine attempt to address the problems inherent in a system that prohibits compensation for people who other folks would really like to compensate. Some major takeaways include "end one and done"—which the NCAA has no control over—and "enforce rules better"—good luck.
But! Even in this document there are some grudging concessions:
Rice expressed tacit approval for providing athletes with a cut of the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses, which is currently before courts.
“Most commissioners believe that the rules on name, image and likeness should be taken up as soon as the legal framework is established,” she said. “It is hard for the public, and frankly for me, to understand what can be allowed with the college model — for the life of me I don’t understand the difference between Olympic payments and participation in ‘Dancing With the Stars’ — and what can’t be allowed without opening the door to professionalizing College Basketball.”
Unfortunately, the "professionalizing college basketball" has already happened in every meaningful way. TV now dictates game times. Revenue is ruthlessly maximized. Players get more or less cut annually. The only way in which college basketball has not professionalized is in the literal paying of their workers, so we get all the downsides of it without even the compensation of thinking "well, at least it's sort of fair now."
The NCAA will not meaningfully change in the near future unless Jeffrey Kessler's lawsuit is an end-of-Cretaceous event.
"These are great, and no one is holding a gun to my head." The National Association of Basketball Coaches has issued walking orders for the rank and file:
Under the heading “A Message to NCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches," the document signed by NABC executive director Jim Haney and deputy director Reggie Minton declares, “In short, it is imperative that the Commission’s recommendations be met with unequivocal support from each of us.”
The NABC even listed a series of “Key Talking Points” for members to follow.
— “Change was necessary, and we knew that change was coming. As coaches on the front lines, we are uniquely positioned to offer valuable insight as the Commission’s recommendations progress through the legislative process.”
— “As coaches, we are committed to working with the NCAA in evaluating the recommendations and will provide appropriate input as legislation is drafted.”
— “We are appreciative of the Commission’s efforts to address necessary change, and for welcoming the input of the NABC.
The commission doesn't actually advocate any meaningful change. Coaches are currently the main beneficiaries of amateurism and must support a document that waves hands at everyone around the sport without actually affecting their bottom lines. But they have to make it look like they are supporting Change, Which Is Good.
The stick and ball games are doing fairly well. Softball is currently on a 14-game winning streak, which isn't that unusual. Freshman pitcher Meghan Beaubien is crushing the competition:
Beaubien, who leads the nation in wins, improved to 27-2 and lowered her ERA to 0.74, which is sixth in the NCAA. She threw a one-hitter against Maryland on Friday, striking out seven in seven innings in a 6-0 win.
One thing that is unusual: there's a Big Ten team within shouting distance. Softball takes on Indiana in a critical three game series this weekend; the Hoosiers are just a half-game back.
Another thing that's unusual: that's not the longest winning streak on south campus in late April. Baseball is up to 20 straight, largely because Eric Bakich pulled off an unprecedented recruiting class:
ANN ARBOR -- The 2017 recruiting class for Michigan's baseball team was the highest ranked ever for a Big Ten team.
Its 10th overall ranking by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper created high expectations for the 13 incoming freshmen and two junior college transfers.
With the Wolverines coming off a 42-win season, their first 40-win season since 2008, many of the newcomers would be counted on to fill key roles after the team lost 15 players from last season, including a program-record 11 MLB Draft picks.
Although some of them struggled to start the season when the team lost 11 of its first 15 games, the freshmen, most notably pitchers Ben Dragani, Jeff Criswell and Angelo Smith, along with first baseman Jesse Franklin and outfielder Jordan Nwogu, have been key contributors during the Wolverines' 20-game win streak, the program's longest since 1987.
The pressure is still on because of that rough start. Baseball bracketologists usually have Michigan in the field but as one of the last four teams.
Another transfer pass. Sophomore SG Austin Reaves is leaving Wichita State and has mentioned Michigan amongst 22 schools in contact, leading to the usual "!?!??" articles and message board threads about the possibility of adding him. Folks, Reaves is Just A Shooter who must sit a year before playing two.
Does Michigan need a 6'5" JAS shooting guard? Not really. Would he be better than Adrien Nunez? Maybe, maybe not. Would Reaves occupy a 2019 scholarship in a class that's looking like 2 or 3 tops? Yes.
This one is better than the sit-one-play-two guy with a 102 ORTG in the NEC, at least. Reaves is still not a fit unless Michigan wants to stop swinging at the top 50 guys in the 2019 class they seem to have a lot of traction with.
Quite a disconnect. Most Michigan fans high fived themselves when they saw next year's single plays…
Home: Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue
Away: Illinois, Iowa, Rutgers
Home/Away: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State, Wisconsin
…and so did the MGoSlack. Skipping road games against two of the four tourney teams from last year and one of the two NIT teams seems pretty good. But not so much, says Bart Torvik:
FWIW, the Big Ten schedule analysis based on current projections. As you might expect with 20 games, it's more balanced than in recent years. https://t.co/ZAH2q1x2Gy pic.twitter.com/prMfeBD8ML
— Bart Trvik (@totally_t_bomb) April 19, 2018
Best guess at the discrepancy: Michigan misses three of the easiest games in league play. From a tourney resume perspective that's good; from a league title perspective not so much. At least this year the 20 game schedule means the schedule gap is significantly smaller than it was a year ago, when MSU was handed a dubious banner.
Again, small hockey schools can pound sand. Niagara fired its hockey coach and replaced him. His first act? Cutting eight guys. Eight! Niagara says they'll honor scholarship commitments, largely because they have to say that, but chances are these guys are headed elsewhere. It's one thing to have to squeeze out another year of junior for a player because of college hockey's crazy recruiting environment. Cutting eight guys is entirely another. This only happens in college hockey because you can import a bunch of 21-year-old freshman-type substances, another small-school innovation.
This is not an isolated incident. When UMass-Amherst cut ~nine guys last year. When you hear people complaining about Michigan flipping recruits, tell 'em to get stuffed! Get stuffed, I say!
Etc.: Don't click here. Intact coaching staff? Wagner scouted. Economist makes the case that the sports EMU is cutting are actually profitable for the school because it is not full on students. Maybe it's okay the USMNT didn't make the World Cup! /sits weeping in corner