NCAA Bans Early Midnight Madness

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Midnight Madness is going back to its
regularly scheduled date next season.
The NCAA's board of directors passed emergency legislation
Thursday which prevents basketball coaches from holding opening
night festivities earlier than the governing body's normal start
President Myles Brand said the proposal was made by the National
Association of Basketball Coaches, who originally asked the NCAA to
allow coaches up to two hours of additional practice time per week
beginning in mid-September. The rule was intended to help players
and coaches work on skill development.
Instead, Kentucky, West Virginia and several other schools took
advantage of a loophole and scheduled their Midnight Madness party
a week earlier than other schools, which waited until Oct. 17.
The board made sure there wouldn't be any questions next year.
"If we wanted it to start a week earlier, we would have
scheduled it a week earlier," Brand said in a conference call.
"When we passed the legislation, it was to work with
student-athletes and it was done at the request of the coaches so
they had a better opportunity to work with the kids. A few coaches
took advantage of it by holding a big celebratory event a week
early and get an edge in recruiting."
Brand was upset at what happened, saying the rescheduled version
of Midnight Madness did not comply with the spirit of the rule. He
acknowledged, however, that those schools did not violate the rule
because there was no prohibition of using those practices hours for
such an event.
Now coaches will retain their two-hour per week window, but the
NCAA will not allow it to be a public event.
The board also discussed three potentially contentious topics -
starting an Academic Progress Report for individual coaches,
creating stronger penalties for major NCAA violations and reducing
the window for college athletes to withdraw from the NBA draft.
The APR was designed to grade each team's success in the
classroom by measuring individual players on academic eligibility
and whether they remained in school. Each team records an overall
score and some teams are now facing significant penalties for
consistently poor performance in the classroom.
But the board believes coaches should be scored, too, and that
those scores should follow them from school to school.
"The board made it clear that it prefers to have this type of
measure," Brand said. "College presidents wanted to have a
measure that could be understood and be publicly available so
everyone can understand how well coaches are succeeding in
motivating student-athletes in the classroom."
Coaches also may find a new source of motivation for playing by
the rules.
It asked the board to consider restore the use of postseason and
television bans as well as fines for major infractions, including
repeat violators of academic fraud.
An NCAA release said those penalties have not been used
"Some time ago, we moved away from television bans because we
felt that impacted sister institutions rather than the guilty
party," Division I vice president David Berst said. "It believed
there were other ways to impose penalties that were just as
meaningful. Now, the committee believes it may be appropriate."
The committee also wants to publicly name staff members involved
in infractions cases, create a new set of penalties to equitably
fit the violation and eliminate the reward for cooperating with
NCAA investigators. Rather, the committee believes schools should
be punished for refusing to cooperate.
The NCAA will now seek input from member schools before
considering the measure for a vote. Cases currently pending would
not be subject to the revised penalties.
Another proposal, made by the ACC, would give basketball players
about a 10-day window to withdraw from the draft and return to
school. Current rules permit players to declare early at the end of
the season, and they then have until mid-June to withdraw. The ACC
believes decisions should be made earlier so coaches can replace
those turning pro during the spring signing period.
Football players have 72 hours to withdraw.
"I will tell you there are varying views on this, whether
that's an appropriate time period or whether there should be a time
period at all," Berst said. "But we thought it was important to
begin the discussions now, so that we could have it in place for
the 2010 draft if that's what we do."

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