Brand: NCAA, NBA should help high schoolers prepare

HAMPTON, Va. -- NCAA president Myles Brand said Monday it
might be time for the NCAA to work with the NBA, other basketball
organizations and even shoe companies on a plan that would better
prepare high school athletes for success in college.

Because the NCAA is stepping up colleges' and universities'
accountability for poor academic performance and graduation rates,
Brand said it's unfair to schools and student-athletes when the
students arrive on campus without the academic background to take
college-level courses.

"Maybe working together with the NBA and lots of others -- USA
Basketball, the [Amateur Athletic Union], the National Federation
of High Schools -- and including key elements such as the shoe
companies ... working all together, is there something we can do to
help improve that pre-collegiate environment?" Brand said during a
visit to Hampton University, where he took questions from athletic
department staffers.

Brand said he and NBA commissioner David Stern, who this year
said the NBA would consider becoming involved in helping secondary
schools to better prepare their athletes, discussed the issue at a
"summit" last year in Chicago.

"It's one of the most recalcitrant and difficult problems we
now face in all of college sports, in part because the NCAA has no
control over what happens before college by definition," Brand
said. Having student-athletes not capable of making the grade
"makes if difficult for the coach and it makes it difficult for
the young people who are being recruited, too. They're not always
getting the straight information."

Another summit is planned next month, Brand said.

In the meantime, to protect colleges from being penalized when
unmotivated student-athletes transfer to other institutions,
sometimes at the end of the season, the NCAA will this year begin
requiring that athletes be academically eligible at the school they
are leaving to be able to accept a scholarship at a new

In 2008, the NCAA also plans to begin requiring that scholarship
recipients have 16 core courses in high school in an effort to
ensure that they bring a solid academic foundation to college
classrooms, NCAA vice president Kevin Lennon said.

When an assistant basketball coach pointed out that college
coaches are not allowed to meet with recruits until after it is too
late for some students to meet the core requirements, Lennon
encouraged everyone to continue giving the NCAA feedback.

By limiting college coaches' access to recruits, Brand said, the
NCAA is opening the door to third-parties who sometimes become
players' representatives.

"I don't know that we've done the best job in enabling our
coaches early on to meet with students and families so that it
would be another strong influence," he said.

In a proposal Brand was to lay out later in the day, the NCAA
also is considering requiring that recruits register with the NCAA
Clearinghouse that monitors academics before making official
recruiting visits that sometimes end with scholarship offers.

In some cases, the offers are made before any academic review,
Lennon said.

"The broader cultural thing that we're trying to say is that
academics needs to be placed before these athletic assets --
official visits, scholarship offers," he said.

Brand said the academic reform is working and that the
graduation rate among student-athletes is actually 2 percentage
points higher than the rate among the general student population.