|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
March 29, 2018
San Antonio, Texas
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. I'm Bob Williams with the NCAA. And joining us this afternoon in the press conference is Dr. Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, Dr. Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota and chair of the Division I Board of Directors, and Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball.
MARK EMMERT: Thank you for being here today. Certainly appreciate your attention to all that's going on. I know you've got lots of questions. It's a very interesting time in college sports and basketball in particular, and we want to make sure we get to all of your questions.
We do want to make a few observations before we move to Q&A. And we want to talk mostly about, first of all, what's going on with basketball in general. And I'm going to ask Dan to make some comments about the tournament and where basketball is right now. And then I'll make some comments about the basketball commission that's in place and still working right now as we speak. And then I'll turn to President Kaler as chair of the Division I Board of Directors to talk about how the board intends to move forward with the recommendations that are going to come out of the commission.
Okay. So, Dan, you want to take it away.
DAN GAVITT: Good afternoon, everybody. We're obviously thrilled to be back in San Antonio for the Final Four, the fourth time that the Final Four has been held here in San Antonio. Of course the first time in ten years. And We were here 20 years ago for the first time.
And this the 300th anniversary of the City of San Antonio. It's particularly exciting to be here. I know the membership -- coaches, athletic directors, commissioners are particularly excited to be back here as well.
San Antonio is known as a military city, and it's the site of a number of number exciting Final Four historical moments. It was, of course, the last time that a national championship game was played in overtime, in 2008, when Kansas beat Memphis. It was also the last Final Four semifinal overtime game played in San Antonio when Kentucky beat Stanford in 1998.
Special thanks to our hosts, UTSA, as well as the many volunteers who will help to make this weekend so special for visitors from around the country. It's a fantastic place to be.
We are excited about the way the tournament has played out. It's been a very successful tournament on so many different levels leading up to San Antonio.
We've had great attendance at our 13 different venues we've used, from Dayton right through the regionals. 96 percent of the tickets were sold and capacity, which is a high watermark since 2006 on capacity at preliminary rounds.
For your information, the last time we were here in San Antonio, we had about 45,000 in attendance when the court was on the one side of the building. Of course, we'll put the court in the middle of the building as we have for the last several years. So we'll be close to 69,000 in attendance for the semifinal games.
Television audience has been strong. Our audience over TV and digital for this tournament up to date has averaged nine and a half million viewers, which while down slightly from last year, 3 percent, is up over 7 percent from 2016 and last year was kind of a record year.
So all really good news there. I wanted to just hit for a moment before it goes back to Mark, on the game of college basketball and what I think this year has been a great reminder of in so many different ways.
I think truly that basketball is the most important sport in college athletics. It's the most important sport in college athletics because it's the connective tissue for all the colleges and universities that play this game. There are other games that are very popular, very valuable. Certainly football and other games that are played both domestically and globally.
But this game of basketball is so popular both domestically and growing internationally and globally that it is the most important, in my opinion, sport in college athletics -- the connective tissue that keeps us all together. And you can use just great examples of that.
In the last five years alone, in the NCAA Tournament, 46 different states have had teams and institutions playing in this Division I men's basketball championship -- in just the last five years.
In the last five years, there have been 16 different teams that have played in the Final Four. Those have represented nine different conferences and schools from the east and west and north and south. Indeed, if anyone other than Villanova wins the championship on Monday night, that will be the fifth year in a row where a different national champion has been crowned, representing four different conferences.
In this year's tournament alone, you've got the diversity of schools like Texas A&M and Ohio State, two of the biggest institutions in the United States, land grant institutions, playing in the same field with Davidson, with an enrollment of 1,800 students, and Lipscomb, with just 3,000 students.
Basketball is the most democratic, with a small "d" sport, in college basketball. This is one of the most democratic events in all of sport.
And while that has all sorts of challenges, it is very representative of our society and as well as our membership. And it's important to keep that strong. But I think this year, in particular, with the way the tournament has played out, with Loyola here, with the upset of the first No. 1 seed, by UMBC, a 16 seed, and other lower-seeded teams advancing far in the tournament.
It's just a reminder, again, that this event represents what's great about college basketball -- five guys and subs can go out and on any given 40 minutes can beat anybody if they play well enough and, indeed, in Loyola's case keep playing that way and earn their way all the way to the Final Four.
So we're excited to see how it will play out here in the next few days. And I'll turn it back to Mark.
MARK EMMERT: We'll get to questions you might have for Dan in a second. I wanted to mention quickly what's going on, of course, that you're well aware of around the basketball commission that's been established since this fall.
When the Southern District of New York came forward with their charges and allegations around the scandals of basketball recruiting and bribery, we were all, I think, pretty dismayed by the nature of the facts that were laid out.
Everyone had heard rumors, of course, about that kind of behavior and the business had swirled around everyone. But nobody had seen it displayed as starkly as it was in the findings of that investigation. And that caused all of us to say, all right, how do we take this very difficult and disturbing moment and turn it into something positive that we can use to improve the game of basketball and restore some of the integrity that those kinds of activities obviously deeply damage.
So I sat down with the Board of Governors that Eric sits on, as well as the D-I board. And we concluded that we needed to put together a commission of individuals who were beyond reproach, people who had stellar reputations both inside sports but also outside of it who could work collectively over a short period of time and bring forward a series of recommendations that would be strong, that would be targeted, that would have the kind of impact we'd all like to see.
And I asked Dr. Rice, Condoleeza Rice, to chair that commission, invited then a number of other individuals that you all are now well aware of. They've been working very, very diligently for a number of months. I've been incredibly impressed with the time and energy these people have put in, the forthrightness that they brought to their deliberations, their passion for college sports and basketball in particular.
Nobody in that room has ever pretended that they're experts in any of these subjects, but they've gone out of their way to bring people in before them or individually to talk to them and pursue the kind of advice, information, feedback that they needed to formulate regulations.
And they're going to be bringing forward their recommendations to the Board of Governors and the Division I Board of Directors at our regularly scheduled governance meetings in April.
On April 25th Eric and his colleagues will receive a report of the commission. The commissioners -- there will be commissioners in attendance -- they'll spend as much time as necessary discussing their recommendations and findings with the board. And the intention is that the board will then take those recommendations, working with the rest of the NCAA governance structure and move forward to address those issues before tip-off next season.
To remind people that aren't as familiar with the NCAA as they might be, the NCAA is in fact a collective university, a collective body of universities and colleges who, together, establish the rules and the policies of the NCAA. So the Board of Governors and the Division I Board of Directors is the body that has ultimate authority over those decisions. But they're always made in collaboration with a number of other bodies. In this case it will be the Division I Council, which represents all 32 of the conferences in Division I.
It's a body of athletic directors and senior women administrators and faculty reps and students as well who will deliberate. But they will be working on behalf of the Division I board. And so I wanted to make sure that Eric could talk about how he sees this playing out once they receive the report from Dr. Rice.
So, Dr. Kaler.
ERIC KALER: Thank you, Mark. It's really my goal to assure our fans and others concerned about the NCAA and about college athletics that we are committed as the governing board of Division I to rapid and sure action on the recommendations.
It's, of course, hard to know exactly what that will be since we don't have the recommendations now. But we are poised to act with efficiency in a nimble and quick way. Nimble and quick may describe some of our NCAA athletes on the court. It doesn't often describe the organization.
This will be different. We understand the severity of the challenges that we face. We understand the urgency with which we need to act to move forward rule changes that will be effective for the next season.
We also realize that some of the recommendations are likely to be changes outside of our sole purview. So, we anticipate an engagement with the NBA, the players association, we anticipate conversations with AAU and other youth organizations as we begin to shape a path for college basketball, for NCAA Division I basketball that will withhold the highest levels of integrity and the greatest commitment to the success and welfare of our students.
We anticipate moving as quickly as we can with the Division I Council that Mark described to you and generate recommendations in collaboration with the overarching board for the NCAA, which is the Board of Governors, so that we can expedite the approval by the membership of changes that we very well know we will need to make in how we recruit students and how those students are treated on our campuses.
So the commitment to move quickly and comprehensively is there. It's there at every member of the Division I Board of Directors, and we intend to take the action we need.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Mark, there's been a lot of talk about the NCAA rules, whether right or wrong, created this market that made the FBI investigation possible. Whether that's true or not, Katie Ledecky might still be on the swim team at Stanford if she didn't have to pursue endorsement opportunities. Two years ago a Texas swimmer got a check from the country of Singapore for winning a gold medal for $750,000. What short of the name image and likeness and some sort of Olympic model makes sense to kind of rub out this culture that we're talking about?
MARK EMMERT: I think you described nicely one of the challenges that was put in front of the commission itself. And they're going to be bringing forward their recommendations around a number of those issues.
As Eric pointed out, we don't know exactly what they're going to be doing. They're working as an independent body, and I sit as an ex-officio member but I'm not in the room when they're having all their deliberations on what directionally to go, which direction to go.
I think, though, the most fundamental principle here that Eric may want to comment on as well is whether or not we want to have college sports as it exists today, that's student-athletes playing student-athletes, or whether we want to move toward a model where these are employees that are compensated whether directly or indirectly for their performances.
And universities and colleges are have consistently said they don't want to have student-athletes become employees of a university. They don't want them to be playing for compensation. They want this to be part of a collegiate experience, and they want these young men and young women to be part of a higher education environment.
I personally think that there needs to be more room for individuals who want to pursue professional sports to be able to do that, particularly in basketball.
There needs to be the ability for a young person and his family to say, you know, what I really want to do is just become a professional ball player. And they ought to be provided that opportunity if they don't want to go to college.
If they do want to go to college, I think that's an extraordinary opportunity. They get to pursue the sport they love. They get to potentially wind up in a venue like this one.
And they get all of the things that come with being part of an educational experience and that's extraordinarily worthwhile. The vast, vast majority of our students, that's exactly what they're pursuing.
For that small number that have other goals and aspirations, they ought to have that right. But, Eric, you may want to address this question too.
ERIC KALER: I would just add that it's really important to remember that the NCAA is established to enable students who are also athletes to compete and develop their talents while students. We're talking about Division I college basketball and maybe 15 players a year at the very peak of that. But the NCAA serves and provides those opportunities for almost half a million student-athletes across three divisions in every state in the country. That's important.
And that's what we believe the NCAA should be doing. If there are other pathways for students, for young people who don't want to go to college and want to go be a professional athlete, good grief, those should exist and be developed, and that pathway should be opened for that young person.
But right now, as a board, we feel strongly on the ability to provide a structure for students who are athletes to compete against one another.
Q. Mark and Dr. Kaler as well, regardless of what the commission might recommend, there seems to be a lot of decisions by presidents to hire coaches who still have blemishes on their records or even currently under investigation. How much can be reformed if presidents don't take the initiative to stop hiring the people that probably shouldn't be getting these jobs?
MARK EMMERT: I think, first of all, the association, which is to say the member universities, if as part of this process they decide -- and I personally would like to see them change some of this structure -- to create stronger sanctions against bad behavior by the adults that are involved in all of this, then I think that would be a very positive step in the right direction, and I know that's one of the many topics that the commission is debating right now.
And I think furthermore, you know, the association has the ability to determine who has the right to coach and who doesn't have the right to coach. So I think that we can and should address those questions.
ERIC KALER: I would just add this is not rocket science. What we need to do is have a set of incentives and disincentives, also known as punishments, that are in place that will influence the behavior that we want to see.
If we have a coach with a blemish, as you so delicately put it, that's a coach that probably shouldn't be coaching in the NCAA. And we ought to be able to put a structure in place that provides the opportunity and the support for presidents who, under pressure from donors and boosters and a bunch of other people, to go hire "the guy," that we're not going to do that.
Q. About an hour ago one of the top high school players in the country Darius Bazley, a McDonald's All-American committed to Syracuse, just announced he was going to be bypassing college and going to the G League. Do you worry about that as maybe being a trend that other top prospects can go to if they're not compensated for their abilities by the NCAA?
MARK EMMERT: No, I think that's a choice that ought to be available to him and anyone else. If somebody looks at the G League or playing in Europe or whatever their other professional options are and they decide they would rather do that for themselves and for their family, then fine. That ought to be available to them. I don't see why not.
Now, I happen to think that going to college and experiencing everything that a college has to offer and still developing your skills and abilities as an athlete is a pretty good deal. It's hard to find better coaches, better facilities, better training, better development as an athlete than in a high quality collegiate program.
But that doesn't mean that's the right choice for everybody. If they want to go play professionally then great, good for them. If they want to come to us, play college ball and then play professionally terrific. If they want to do like 98 percent do, come to us, play college ball and then make a living like everybody else, that's great, too.
It should be about what are the choices and options available to those young men.
Now as a Syracuse alumnus, I have a different feeling about it. But that's -- (laughter).
Q. I know you're waiting for the specifics from the commission, but some folks have already come out with some recommendations. The Pac-12, for example, with maybe regional combines where the coaches can all watch, access to agents, that sort of thing. What are your feelings on things that might get some things under the NCAA's purview that currently aren't? Because it seems a lot of your problems, especially with the FBI investigation, are with people you have no control over?
MARK EMMERT: Well, first of all, again not knowing where the commission is going to be going, let's talk about the things that they were asked to address. Well, the first was the relationship between collegiate sport and -- collegiate basketball and professional basketball, what should that relationship be, back to sort of this question of what options should be available. You just heard my opinion. That may be starkly different than the commission's.
But they're going to be looking at that. Those decisions as Eric mentioned, of course, are to a certain extent controlled by the NBA and the Players Association and not by us. That means that we will have to work with them, and we have good working relationships with those people already. So I'm sure that will continue.
If you look at some of the fundamental problems around agents and agent behavior and who is and who isn't an agent and what their access to individuals are right now, some of those rules are inside our purview. Some are not.
Who is an agent? A registered agent as controlled by the NBAPA right now. There may be different scenarios by which that could change. So you can come up with a lot of different solutions in that area. Summer ball, whatever you want to call that, but summer ball is a wholly unregulated space. There's nobody right now that really has oversight over it. And I think that's at least part of the problem. Everybody seems to agree to that.
So whether that means we move into that space or USA Basketball moves in or even the NBA itself moves in in some different ways, there's doubtlessly going to be some combination of changes there that can occur that can work with, not in opposition, but with some of those organizations that are there now to make it function much better for young people.
So I think in each of those spaces, there's going to be need for us to modify what we're responsible for and to move some things that are kind of under the table now up on top of the table and say, yeah, we know those things exist, so how do we manage them more effectively and make it work better for all parties.
ERIC KALER: I'll build on that a little bit. One thing that this situation is really ripe to do is to produce a set of unintended consequences because we're going to be moving quickly and we know we've got some big chunks to chew. And one of those is ensuring access to competitive opportunities for all of the Division I institutions, particularly worry about some of the smaller or mid-major schools.
You mentioned what the Pac-12 is doing. You could pretty easily see the autonomy five conferences going in one direction with the resources they have and disadvantaging competitively smaller school teams as well as not providing the opportunity for those schools to see players from around the country, which is what summer ball, if we call it that, can do.
So we have to think carefully about serving all of the D-I schools but at the same time getting a clear set of rules and a clear set of expected behaviors.
MARK EMMERT: Also as an aside you mentioned the Pac-12's proposals. It's important to know, and there's no reason that the broad public would know this, the commission's been soliciting input from all the conferences, from a whole array of constituents and interested parties and they've received a ton of it. Some of that's come out to the public but the vast majority hasn't. The Pac-12 published theirs. The Big East has announced some of theirs. Others have been doing it directly without making it public.
DAN GAVITT: Including the NABC, which is important to note.
MARK EMMERT: Yeah, basketball coaches, lots of groups.
Q. There's been other commissions, other committees that have studied basketball and other issues and maybe haven't had a lot of impact. Is there something about the makeup of this committee that you feel pretty confident they're going to be willing to come up with some real impactful solutions?
MARK EMMERT: You know, when we announced the commission in a variety of forms I've pointed out, I recognize everybody says this is sort of typical behavior of big organizations, right? Something goes wrong, you form a commission and then nothing happens.
One of the things that's different about this commission itself is that everybody that I asked to serve on it after we talked with the board, they all said, yeah, I'd love to do this, but only if you guys are serious.
And I mean just to be blunt about it, you don't waste Condoleeza Rice's time if you're not serious about it. Most importantly, though, it isn't who is on the commission, and it isn't even about what their recommendations are going to be; it's about the commitment of Eric and his colleagues, about what I've heard from the coach's association, about what I've heard from the basketball oversight committee. Everybody that's involved in college basketball right now recognizes this can't continue the way it's continuing.
There's more motivation and focus on this than any issue that I've seen in my time in college sports. And it's easy to forget that the NCAA is a collective decision-making body. It is a representative democracy. And when you've got collective decision-making, you need strong catalysts to move things forward. Sometimes those catalysts come in the form of very ugly incidents, and that's what we've got here.
Q. You say you don't want -- everyone realizes you can't continue the way it's continuing, but without making fundamental changes in terms of whether it's paying players or whether it's allowing them to make money off their likeness, how do you expect change to happen if you're not going to make changes to the structure of the system?
MARK EMMERT: I can only speak for myself personally and I fundamentally disagree with your premise. The idea that the only way you can get people to follow rules is to pay them money, I guess that's one argument. But the fact of the matter is that if young people, as we were just saying around the fellow at Syracuse, if young people have options and they can choose, do I want to be a professional athlete and play this game for money, or do I want to play this game as part of a higher educational experience, gain all the advantages and benefits that come with being a college student and take advantage of everything that's there for me, and then maybe play professionally afterwards or maybe not, then they need to make that decision. That's a choice that needs to be there.
But people fully understand that when you go into a collegiate environment you're not doing that to become an employee of a university. And there is, as we said earlier, no interest in higher education of turning college athletes into employees that are hired and fired by universities.
Q. The president of Michigan State recently was asked about a situation going on there and kind of attacked the messenger a bit on that. I guess my question to you guys, the enforcement side of this completely to the side, disregarding that, first there are however many hundreds of Michigan State student-athletes right now. Do you guys feel confident that they are in a safe environment right now? And secondly do you think there's a role for the NCAA, not just to kind of after the fact come in and that's the whole enforcement side, but when there's something, when there's a crisis like what's happened at Michigan State, as far as student-athletes are concerned, for the NCAA to actually be proactive and do something?
MARK EMMERT: Well, first of all, it's obviously a very, very complex circumstance there, and there's a lot of investigations going on. There's local, state, federal investigations going on. And I don't want to complicate any of those things.
But I think, first of all, the most important proactive things we can do around issues, especially like sexual assault, is try and work on the preventive side to make sure that everybody knows what the right policies and procedures are, that universities have in fact in place the policies and procedures and systems that should protect students and others from that kind of behavior.
This is a systemic issue in society and certainly on campuses regardless of whether it's student-athletes or not. On that score, the NCAA and the Board of Governors in particular have been more engaged than any other higher education entity. In fact, we're providing leadership to the rest of higher ed right now on trying to figure out how to deal with these issues in advance and prevent them, rather than just always coming in after the fact and imposing some kind of punishment or solutions afterwards.
So that's really where the board's been focused and my staff has been focused. In terms of the role of the association in these kind of issues, that's one of the big debates, I think, that's going on right now in society is who is ultimately responsible when institutions fail at their responsibilities.
And there's lots of entities in place when it's a university, whether it's their own board, whether it's state government, whether it's higher education oversight boards or accrediting agencies, et cetera, et cetera. What's the appropriate role then for an athletic association, in this case the NCAA, in these circumstances? And that's being widely discussed and debated right now.
ERIC KALER: To your question of the safety of the athletes at Michigan State, I'm certain that the people there now are hypersensitive to what occurred and are vigilant about monitoring for other kinds of behaviors. But again it's an unfolding scenario. Right now, with the arrest of Nassar's supervisor this week, it's going to be a challenge for the institution for a long time.
And I'm very sure the governing board recognizes that. I've had a conversation with their president. He understands that. And we -- for the good of athletics in higher education in general you hope for their success in righting that ship and taking care of their student-athletes.
Q. It is expected at a working group on transfer rules will present a proposal to the board next month as well. Some of the reforms have already come into focus. But what specific goals would you like to see come from transfer reforms? And would it be positive for college sports if student-athletes had less restrictions?
MARK EMMERT: It's an interesting topic because it seems like one of the simplest of all. How complicated could this be? It's about students changing schools. And yet I've never seen anything that's quite as intractable a problem as this one because you just can't get agreement.
There's this constant tension between what's simply the ease for any one party, whether it's a coach or players or the school, or what's the right balance between the investments that everybody makes whether they're individuals or not.
It should be a simple one, and it really has been a very thorny one. This working group, I think, is the fourth one that's been in existence since I took over as president. In less than eight years we've had four groups try to solve this. I just came out of a meeting with the NABC, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and that was yet again the topic of discussion.
I want very much for -- again, these are just my own personal views -- I want them very much to pay attention to what's going to help advance the young men and young women's academic careers so they can be successful academically. What treats them in as fair a fashion as possible? What recognizes also the commitments that universities, not necessarily individual coaches, but the universities have made in these folks and strikes the right balance there?
Now, having said that, I don't have the right answer. And we'll wait and see what the working group comes forward with. And I know Eric's been involved with it a bit, and Danny as well.
ERIC KALER: I'll just add, this is a bit of a poster child for the idea that we see we have a problem in the NCAA and then we study it and study it and nothing happens. And we have to own that.
But I would add that this is a subject in which there just is not agreement amongst the D-I board members or the Board of Governors about what the right answer is. Is it a uniform rule for all sports? Is it separate rules for football and basketball? What's the effect on the competitive nature of a team if a key player is able to transfer quickly. I mean -- it's complicated.
MARK EMMERT: And it's not as if we don't have transfers going on. We have -- what percent transfer, Dan?
DAN GAVITT: 40 percent in men's basketball.
MARK EMMERT: 40 percent of the athletes are transferring. So, we've got a lot of movement going on already. It's just a complicated issue.
Q. In Yahoo! Sports report that came out last month, there were 14 players cited as receiving a thousand dollars or more from the agency that was raided by the FBI. Of those 14 players, only five were players who eventually became one-and-done players, players who left after a single year. And yet you continue to use that rule, that age-limit rule, as sort of a target and sort of seems to be something that you think is a causation for some of the violations or problems that developed in the FBI investigation. I'm wondering why is that something that you think would solve, that the elimination of that rule, why you think that would solve some of the problems that we have now?
MARK EMMERT: I don't know whoever quoted me as saying I thought that would solve the problems because I certainly don't. I think that's a silly notion.
Do I think it's part of the problem? Sure. Do I think changing it is part of the solution? Sure. That strikes me as commonsensical. But it's certainly not the only issue going on.
I think all the topics that the commission is investigating, their whole charge includes components that are a piece of this. So where we wind up with what happens with the G League or what happens with the NBA is one potential resolution of some of this, but it's certainly not the beginning or the end of it.
Q. Can you explain why you think it's part of the problem? What about it becomes part of the problem? If multiple athletes, if players who come and play multiple years are doing the same behaviors, why is eliminating -- I don't know however many players you want to say -- why would eliminate them eliminate the problem?
MARK EMMERT: I can only tell you what I've heard from many individuals who work in those industries. If you look at the motivation for agents, you want to sign somebody early so that you can be their agent and cash in on them when they go to the NBA. You don't cash in on them while they're playing college ball. You have financial gain when they become an NBA player.
So a lot of what's going on is individuals try to guess and figure out who is going to be an NBA player and who isn't going to be an NBA player and covering their bets by picking some inaccurately, I'm sure.
So to the extent that it's already known who is going to the NBA and that's clearly determined, then that just eliminates that component of the behavior. But as I said, that's just a piece of it. I don't think and I'm not sure why anybody ever thought that I said that was the end all and be all of all of this. It most certainly is not.
Q. Mark, you've mentioned several times the collegiate experience, the collegiate model, but time demands on basketball players have maybe never been greater. The season has expanded. They're playing more games than ever. A lot of teams are on the road 35, 40 days a year. What has the association done or is it doing to try to preserve that model and keep students on campus when it seems like the demands grow ever greater for more content?
MARK EMMERT: I agree that's a huge problem. Again I'll let my colleagues talk about it because it's something that the membership has been wrestling with and indeed this last year put in a series of changes. This is the first year that some new restrictions on the demands that coaches can place on students just came into being. In fact, there's some new ones that were just passed by this last January to try and provide more time away from the game than is the case now.
I think that there's been a really great, concerted effort to try to understand the demands that are placed on our student-athletes across all sports, working mostly with the students themselves. We've been relying on the student leader groups to conduct surveys of students to get a real feel for what they want and what they don't want.
A lot of times, somewhat ironically, the biggest challenge is to convince the students not to spend more time around the game, or in the gym, because these are all really, really competitive young men and women and they want to compete. They want to win. They don't want to disappoint a coach.
And there's peer pressure in all the things we know that go into sports. So it's not as simple as just saying, no, no, you can't go to the gym today.
What I personally worry about is the expansion of -- I think I heard you say the ever-growing need for content. I worry a lot about that. I worry about start times. We worry about it with these games, with our tournament. How can you make it all fit and still not be utterly disruptive of that experience? It's hard.
But we're continuing to modify the rules, continue to provide greater support and flexibility so that they can take academic support people with them on the road and a variety of things.
I would argue that this year it's, we believe, better than it has been in the past because of new rules. We don't have the data in so we're not sure. But I think what was done last year was a first step, a step in the right direction. Does it resolve it completely? No.
A lot of people would like to see fewer contests. If you talk to a student and you say would you rather practice or play a game, we know what the answer is. They'd way rather go play a game.
So finding out what meets their need for competitive development, what resolves the coach's constant interest in developing them, and how do we strike the balance with academics is hard.
What I can tell you is that in men's basketball, virtually -- not virtually -- every year that I've been involved and for multiple years before that, academic success and graduation success has been moving up. So they're being more successful academically, but we know that that's insufficient. I don't want to filibuster this, but we know they don't have enough time for internships.
It's very, very hard if not impossible to study abroad. We know they don't get work experiences in their degree areas that they want. We know sometimes they have to choose majors that they might have chosen differently were they not playing ball.
When we ask them was the tradeoff worth it, even the ones, the vast majority who aren't playing professionally, they uniformly say yes. But that doesn't mean we can't make it a better experience.
ERIC KALER: I'll be a little more specific about this. The rule changes around a real day off, it's a day off, it's not the day you got back from an away game at 4.00 a.m. and the rest of that day, it's a day off. Mandatory quiet time after seasons. These are important things.
But, again, the resource base -- and this goes a little bit back to the issue of what a student gets out of that experience -- being able to travel with a tutor, be able to have structured time, maybe it's in the hotel before the game for studying, it's an important opportunity.
And the other side that we often forget is that structure is there to help the student succeed, but students who have other passions in other areas that aren't athletics don't have those constraints.
So if we have a concert cellist, there's no rule that he can only practice 20 hours a week. So a little bit of that is also the student-athlete's choice, that this is a lifestyle that I'm going to invest in because I see a benefit and, oh, by the way, I'm going to get an education paid for out of it.
DAN GAVITT: Just a reminder, the autonomy conferences also in January passed a new rule that requires a mandatory three-day winter break. So it will go into effect next year.
So while the season will start three days earlier with no additional games, just one additional play date, they will -- the student-athletes will get a mandatory three consecutive days off, no practice, no community service, nothing, which was very much supported and welcomed by the student-athletes.
Q. Mark and Eric, there's been talk about the baseball rule. Have there been any conversations about once a kid comes to college, they have to stay two or three years?
MARK EMMERT: I'm sure the commission is having that discussion. Again, I'm not in the room when they're debating that. That's such a widely discussed topic. I'm sure it will be something they're considering very seriously.
You have to recognize every sport's different. The relationship with the professional sports is different. And, of course, baseball has this very large, very successful minor league system. Basketball has a very modest one. And football has none. So every one of them is different.
ERIC KALER: The only thing I would add is really to amplify the last point: Baseball is different from the other ones. And so unless there is a much stronger developmental league in the NBA, I would put a bet that we're not going to see that. But, again, we don't know what the commission will recommend.
MARK EMMERT: Again, that would be up to the NBA, not up to us.
ERIC KALER: Not us.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports