CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Mike Krzyzewski made public a concern that everyone around college basketball has been wondering for years now: Does the NCAA have a plan?
“Do you see anybody coming out from the NCAA saying what our future is?” Coach K said after his team beat Boston College on Tuesday night. “What’s our plan? And by the way, who would say that?”
He wasn’t angry, just more matter-of-fact and frustrated. There are a host of issues to deal with – from one-and-done to paying players and who’s in charge – and Coach K sees a lack of direction from the NCAA.
“Collegiate NCAA football runs it big-time,” Krzyzewski added. “We don’t do it. We don’t do it. It’s sad.”
Krzyzewski has long been a proponent of a commissioner to run college basketball, and in recent years he’s gone public with his frustration that the NCAA has been reactive instead of proactive, especially with the recent news and legislation involving name, image and likeness in which players would receive some form of compensation.
“We need to stay current with what’s happening,” Krzyzewski said back in October after California signed a law that would allow college athletes based in the state to profit off their name, image and likeness beginning in 2023. “I’m glad it was passed because it pushes the envelope, it pushes the issue. We’ve had our head in the sand a lot for college. We’re not good game-planners for the future. We’re reactionary. We don’t set the pace.”
The group working on the name, image and likeness issue is expected to present proposals to the NCAA’s Board of Governors in April. The expectation is that new rules will be in place by January of 2021, but there’s a shortage of optimism that the NCAA will get this right.
K also weighed in Tuesday on the parity in college basketball, agreeing with most who follow the sport closely that there’s a lack of great teams this season.
“There’s so many good teams, and there aren’t great teams. There are some really good teams that have great records,” he said. “They may be a little bit better than others. I don’t think we’re one of those. I think we’re a team that’s just good. We can get better, but we’ve won a lot.”
His Duke team improved to 19-3 with the win on Tuesday night and is ranked No. 7 in the latest AP poll, but the Blue Devils haven’t been overwhelming. This could also be the first year since 2013 that Duke won’t have someone picked in the lottery come June in the NBA Draft.
Krzyzewski feels that the primary reason for the lack of powerhouse teams is that many have been hurt by players leaving early for the pros despite not being drafted in the first round or even being drafted at all. This past year, more than half of the underclassmen who declared for the NBA Draft went undrafted.
“The whole state of college basketball has been hurt by how many kids have tested the waters,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s not the one-and-dones. We’ve lost about 70-to-80 kids who weren’t even drafted besides the ones who were drafted. I wish the whole thing would change.”
He also mentioned that grad transfers, who accounted for nearly a quarter of the 900 or so transfers last year, have been a game-changer. In 2013, there were 58 grad transfers in men’s basketball. This past year? Just shy of 200.
“That’s the biggest one-and-done that’s changed basketball,” he said. “Not the Jayson Tatums; it’s the grad transfer one-and-done.”
While college basketball tries to navigate ongoing NCAA investigations along with the name, image and likeness issue, the NBA’s one-and-done rule seems far less impactful to the college landscape than it did when speculation began surfacing a couple years ago that it will change.
Ultimately, though, Krzyzewski is adamant that if the NCAA doesn’t start to become more progressive and forward-thinking, the sport will suffer.
“We’ve got to be so careful,” K said. “I’ve said this for a couple years that as soon as they said high school kids can go sometime soon, we as a college committee don’t think of what that means. The NBA does. The NBA has ramped up the G-League, unionized. You see things on TV.
“How many high school games do you see now on TV? I see in the future a high school megaleague that has a TV contract. Can that happen? You bet your butt it can happen, especially if those kids aren’t going to go to college. The NBA’s going to want to promote those guys.”