College basketball coaches aren’t usually short on opinions, and they weren’t when asked recently about what change they would like to see made in the sport.
Some offered more than one suggestion, and the answers were varied. Some opinions regarded on-court changes, and some focused on improvements away from the game itself. And some coaches thought the game was in a good place as it stood.
The coaches were queried when they were in Las Vegas in late May for the Coaches vs. Cancer annual fundraiser. Only one coach didn’t participate when asked. Arizona’s Sean Miller walked away when he realized it was a media interview.
Here’s what the other coaches said:
■ Jim Harrick, former UCLA, Georgia, Rhode Island and Pepperdine coach: “I think we have way too many rules. You could get that book (NCAA Manual), and it’s a 1,000 things of I can’t talk to you or run into a recruit. We’ve got so many rules, it bogs down the game. To me, that’s ruins everything, and that’s what’s led to everything (allegations of wide-spread cheating). We need to redo this, and I think they’ve realized that now.
“I was on a committee in 1974, and we told the NCAA there’s nothing we can do if someone wants to pay somebody. It’s not against the law. We’ve been fighting that for years. That was directed at boosters. Now you direct it at agents. If agents want to give a guy money, let them give a guy money. Why do you have to sign up for the (NBA) draft? Just draft a guy, and if he wants to go, he goes. If he doesn’t want to, he goes back to school. Don’t sign up for the draft and cost yourself your eligibility. That’s not really sound.”
■ Kevin Kruger, Oklahoma assistant and former UNLV point guard: “We can’t give (players) salaries, but cost of attendance, meals, (the NCAA is) making the right steps toward where it should be. I think the NCAA’s doing a good job of progressing with the times. It may not be as quickly as everybody’s hoping for in terms of handing kids checks, but in terms of trying to meet the needs of the student-athletes, I think they’re doing a good job of at least evolving to where they should be.”
■ Lon Kruger, Oklahoma coach and former UNLV coach: “It’s hard to pick one thing. I think it probably ties into recruiting in some way. It’s obviously gotten out of hand a little bit, and there’s tried to be a correction in the past year. Hopefully, that continues to move in a positive direction where people’s perspective of the college game is usually positive.”
■ Greg McDermott, Creighton coach: “We can’t forget that we’re one of the only sports that we fill a dome for our national championship weekend. So I’ve been one that I’m not as big of an advocate of change as some others. I’m not a fan of widening the lane. I guess I would be OK if we moved the 3-point line back. I don’t know that that has a significant difference. I think our game is great the way it is, and I’d hate to see any significant change.”
■ Marvin Menzies, UNLV coach: “I wish that the decline in attendance with the way things are set up was a little bit better. I think the social media aspect has affected it in general. People rely so much on their devices. I wish there was more live interaction. That’s around the nation.”
■ Tim Miles, Nebraska coach: “I like our sport the way it is. I like its uniqueness. I like the fact it’s called college basketball, and it’s for college students and (hope) it stays that way. I don’t think we need … a FIBA, NBA model. I think it’s a very popular thing and good for our players.”
■ Jack Murphy, Northern Arizona coach: “I would look at how we measure (Academic Progress Rate), something like the graduation rates. I’m a coach in the Big Sky, and how it impacts our program is different from how it could impact a Pac-12-level program. When kids transfer from our program, they’re usually going to a junior college or down a level. The APR implications of a required GPA and all that stuff is the same across the board, but it’s different when you go to a junior college. I think that stuff impacts the non-Power Five schools more directly than it does the Power Five.”
■ Dave Pilipovich, Air Force coach: “I would like to put back the five-second closely guarded rule. Award the defense.”
■ Brad Underwood, Illinois coach: “One, I’d get rid of one-and-done, and then I would change the 3-point line and probably widen the lanes.”
■ Roy Williams, North Carolina coach: “Go back to kids making decisions with their families and nobody else.”
Start of college basketball season moved up
The NCAA instituted one notable change in January, moving up the beginning of the basketball season from Friday, Nov. 9 to Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Changing the start date provides more distance between the season’s first tipoffs and the attention that goes to a college football weekend.
The date switch also gives athletes more time off around Christmas because no games were added to the schedule. The Power Five conference voted to mandate a three-day break around the holiday, and other leagues are free to make their own rules on the issue.
“The start of the season had become so compressed with the holidays and exams that the additional three days allows schools to better schedule the start of the season, and it’s the benefit for the student-athletes and coaches,” Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president in charge of basketball, told NCAA.com.