The FBIâ€™s investigation last fall into corruption and fraud in menâ€™s college basketball canâ€™t really be called a wake-up call. Not when the problems - big money, flouted rules, sham classes and never any consequences for wrongdoing - had been so out in the open for so long. Good, though, that the scandal forced the National Collegiate Athletic Association to acknowledge the long-simmering problems by appointing a commission to examine the issues. Even better is that the commission took its charge seriously, delivering a series of recommendations that - while certainly not curing all the ills of intercollegiate athletics - would be improvements over the status quo.
At the heart of the report released last month by the Commission on College Basketball is the assessment that schools have lost sight of their central mission of providing higher education to students in what has amounted to an arms race to recruit the best talent to their lucrative basketball teams.
Accordingly, the commission recommended ways to encourage college athletes to complete their degrees, including allowing undrafted players to return to school without penalty.
Noteworthy was the call for overhaul of the NCAAâ€™s investigative and enforcement arms, using independent investigators and imposing stiffer penalties
The commission punted on whether athletes should be paid or allowed to earn money from their name or likenesses, deferring to an ongoing court case it said would help sort out the legal parameters.
Caution on this controversial issue, while seen by some critics as wimping out, is wise given the fraught issues of going to a professional model.
Although they were endorsed by the NCAAâ€™s governing board, work is required in changing rules, crafting legislation and building consensus among the 351 menâ€™s basketball Division I members.
-The Washington Post