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Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Problems With The NCAA’s Summer Basketball Proposal

  • The NCAA is considering allowing teams to play exhibition games in the summer.
  • But some at Big East media day shared concerns about logistics and an undue burden.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA’s main goal is amateurism — the idea that players aren’t professionals. But the governing body is discussing a proposal that would make basketball players look more like their pro counterparts than ever. 

The governing body is considering allowing both men’s and women’s teams to play summer exhibition games, creating a calendar that spans all four seasons.

Earlier this week, NCAA SVP of Basketball Dan Gavitt told SBJ that preliminary feedback was “mostly favorable.” But the idea is more controversial than he let on — at Big East media day on Tuesday, Commissioner Val Ackerman told Front Office Sports that after further consideration, the conference is “split” on the idea.

“There are some who think it would be good if college basketball could sort of get its due in the offseason, and so that’s laudable,” Ackerman said. “In many cases, the players are on campus anyway…maybe a few games interspersed with the practices wouldn’t be such a bad thing.”

But she noted athletic directors are likely “torn” — concerned about the cost of putting on games, the impact on athletes, and even the toll on staff who often use summer months for vacations.

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“Summer is supposed to be the time of year when these kids get a break — a physical break, a mental break, catch up on schoolwork, cause that is part of the drill here,” Ackerman said. “That would be lost or diminished.”

Multiple coaches shared these concerns. “I’m not a fan of it,” Marquette’s Shaka Smart said, citing a fear of potential “collateral damage” for athletes. 

Smart thinks his players are already stretched too thin. Even Gavitt’s observation that summer games could help athletes with their NIL platform wouldn’t be worth it.

There’s another potential hiccup: Some teams already have summer plans. Georgetown players, for example, participate in the NCAA-sanctioned Kenner League, coach Patrick Ewing noted. “I’m not really sure which way I would lean, but I think it would be tough,” he said.

As was the case with the NCAA bracket expansion proposal, Ackerman has not received a specific model — so everything from travel parameters to number of games is still up in the air. 

“Intriguing is my word,” Ackerman said. But “far from settled.”

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