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Thursday, July 9, 2009
If passed, rule would allow some summer contact


College coaches have whined for years about the lack of access to their current players in the summer.

The complaint is legitimate. Anyone -- notably agents and their hand-picked workout employees -- can have complete access to the players. To think there isn't any influence over the player, especially on his game, is naive. That doesn't mean all the advice from a third party is wrong. It's not. But college coaches want to be in control of a player's college career.

They might finally get their wish -- with a hitch.

Next month in Indianapolis, the NCAA's board of directors will listen to a proposal from the basketball academic enhancement committee, chaired by UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, that would allow coaches access on the court with players as long as they're in summer school.

The model would be that over an eight-week period the coach would have access to the player, with two hours a week in skill development and the other hours to be determined, with possible uses like watching tape, observing pickup games or weight-room workouts. The only thing the coaches couldn't do is have a full practice.

The time frame of the eight weeks would be fluid depending on each school's academic calendar. Schools like UCLA are on the quarter system, so its eight-week summer session would start later than, say, a semester school like Florida that lets out in early May.

"Right now coaches aren't allowed to engage in any activity over the summer, and research shows the athletes spend 12-14 hours a week on basketball activities -- but training with anyone other than their coach," Guerrero said. "This piece of legislation allows for continuity. If they're going to go to summer school, then they should be allowed to work directly with their coaches. The data shows that those student-athletes that work with coaches build a bond."

Guerrero said the minimum for a player to be eligible to participate is three hours of summer school in the initial year. In the subsequent summers, the player must attend six hours to be eligible to work out with his coach. The NCAA won't make this mandatory because there are a number of schools that don't have summer school (like schools in the Ivy League). According to Guerrero, there is also a cost analysis that has to be taken into consideration.

If this is passed in the legislative cycle next year, the July evaluation period might get another tweak in 2010. If college coaches are allowed to work with their own players in July, it will lead to even more coaches and assistant coaches heading back to campus either in place of or between recruiting evaluation assignments in July.

• Guerrero is the chair of the NCAA men's basketball tournament for 2010. The recent decision to eliminate the last 12 games as a official criteria for selection and seeding for the field doesn't mean the end of the season won't mean something to the committee members, Guerrero said. How a team finishes is still going to be up to each of the 10 members of the committee. They just don't need a set number of games to determine that criteria. "If a team is in a tailspin then you might knock them down in seeding or even in the field," Guerrero said. "Some might look at the last 10 or 12 games, or others might not put that much weight on it."

Guerrero said the committee didn't discuss expansion or any other changes to the existing bracket at its latest meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to get new members -- Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton -- adjusted to being on the committee.

• Head coaches from the Under-19 Championships and World University Games should be worn down by next week. On Sunday, Pitt's Jamie Dixon is heading straight from the conclusion of the U-19 event in Auckland, New Zealand, to the Nike Peach Jam in Augusta, Ga., while Miami coach Frank Haith is doing the same from the WUG event in Belgrade, Serbia.

• Washington State forward DeAngelo Casto, who had been one of the key members of the U-19 team in Auckland, suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee. Casto averaged 6.3 points and 3.3 boards in four games. WSU coach Ken Bone said he anticipated Casto having a scope done when he returns to Spokane. Bone is hopeful that Casto won't be out for any serious length of time. Practice does not begin until October.