NCAA president wants to clean up the `culture' surrounding men's game

Dempsey wants reduction in coaches' summer contact

proposals create concerns


Men's NCAA Tournament

March 31, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS -- NCAA president Cedric Dempsey wants to clean up the "culture" of men's college basketball.

In a news conference two days before the Final Four, Dempsey recommended to cut back on summer programs, redefine amateurism and limit the amount of new scholarships.

"Change is always scary in any organization," Dempsey said. "I think it will change and it might create unrest with people. I think we will go through some pain before we have much gain. The best way to change it is to build a new culture, not tweak the present culture."

The most controversial proposal, a ban on summer recruiting, will be introduced at the men's Division I Management Council meeting in two weeks and be voted on at the annual NCAA meeting in January.

If accepted, the recruiting calendar would be readjusted by increasing evaluation days during the academic year from 40 to 70. According to Dempsey, the purpose is to de-emphasize the summer camps and lessen the influence of the camp personnel over athletes.

John Thompson, the former Georgetown coach and current radio talk show host, attended the news conference and anticipated some uproar over this issue since many coaches need the summer to find certain players.

"It's hard to rationalize this," Thompson said. "That change of `culture' scares me. What does he mean by that? I want him to define that."

The other recruiting issue deals with reducing the amount of scholarships given each year. Currently, the scholarship limit is 13 with no restriction. But there is discussion to allow schools only eight new scholarships over a two-year period and no more than five in a single year.

"We have concerns that if you do that, the freedom to stay or go, the freedom to transfer from one institution to another, would be reduced," said Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Another hot topic was the definition of amateurism rules, especially with seven cases occurring in men's basketball this season.

A new proposal would permit a student-athlete to leave school, play professionally and then return, regaining eligibility. Athletes can now declare for the NBA draft and still retain eligibility if they don't sign with an agent.

Amateurism became a main issue after the high-profile case of St. John's Erick Barkley, who accepted money to attend prep school before enrolling in college. His situation also emphasized a major gray area.

"That is probably one of the most difficult of our pre-enrolled legislation we have," Dempsey said. "I think in theory, we do not disagree with that at all. At some point, there is some disagreement as to where you draw the line as to who provides the financial aid."

Dempsey also denied that the NCAA has to offer stipends to keep athletes despite the talks of a NBA developmental league. He said that league would weed out all the athletes who never intended to graduate anyway.

Miller cleared to play

Florida officials cleared forward Mike Miller to play in the Final Four after determining he made no improper contact with an agent who called him 45 times since last September.

"This is not a major problem," coach Billy Donovan said yesterday when the team arrived in Indianapolis. "There are no issues with Mike Miller, no issues eligibility-wise. He's going to play. To harp on it would take away from what this team has accomplished and what it's trying to do."

In a story yesterday, the New York Times reported agent Andy Miller could have broken laws in Tennessee and Florida by calling Miller and Tennessee guard Tony Harris.

Mike Miller acknowledged that the agent called him at least 45 times since Sept. 1 and that they had spoken at least 20 times.

The agent, who is not related to the player, is not registered to practice as an agent in either state, which both have agent laws.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley said the sophomore forward did nothing to compromise his eligibility.

Thrills for Carolina

North Carolina (22-13) must win the national title to avoid its most losses since 1951-52.

"When we came to the Final Four in my freshman year, we walked in with our chests a little bit bigger," junior center Brendan Haywood said. "We were expected to win it. We came with this attitude of, `Yeah, we know what we're here to do.' This year we're coming in with, `Whew, we made it.' Nobody expected us to be here."

The Tar Heels arrived at their hotel yesterday afternoon and worked out at Butler University. The team was greeted by a high school band playing the North Carolina fight song and about 50 fans.

"I want our guys to enjoy this," coach Bill Guthridge said in the hotel lobby. "It's a lifetime thrill for any young man growing up to play in the Final Four."

Forward Kris Lang, on crutches Monday while nursing a sprained right ankle, was expected to play Saturday night in the semifinals against Florida.

"I feel fine," Lang said. "This is the Final Four. Of course, I'm going to play."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Doubling up

Those who have advanced to the Final Four as a player and coach:

Vic Bubas: North Carolina State, 1950; Duke, 1963-64, 1966

Billy Donovan: Providence, 1987; Florida, 2000

Dick Harp: Kansas, 1940; Kansas 1957

Bob Knight: Ohio State, 1960-62; Indiana, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1987, 1992

Bones McKinney: North Carolina, 1946; Wake Forest, 1962

Dean Smith: Kansas, 1952-53; North Carolina, 1967-69, 1972, 1977, 1981-82, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997

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