A commission on college basketball chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice promised to deliver "bold" and sweeping changes to the NCAA.
Rice revealed Wednesday in Indianapolis the commission's findings and recommendations as she described the sport being in a state of "crisis."
Nobody should have expected Rice to lay out a plan for an overhaul of the amateur system — we've been told throughout that player payment would not be on the table. Rice briefly mentioned the idea but cited ongoing legal matters that prevent action.
The announcement was mostly an acknowledgment of the messiness that is college basketball. Some recommendations are bold, such as allowing players to return to college if they go undrafted, opening a window for a degree of agent involvement and strengthening enforcement penalties. Other recommendations, such as a desire to break out of the shackles of the one-and-done charade, are noble.
But the most crucial matters that affect the sport were addressed vaguely or are unrealistic. And most of what Rice laid out would not have prevented the corruption that led to the commission's creation.
It was a small step forward, and few — if any — ideas were revolutionary despite the seven-month investment in the 60-page report.
"The crisis in college basketball is first and foremost a problem of failed accountability and lax responsibility," Rice said. "The fault was always that of someone else."
She then spent much of her address laying fault at the feet of apparel companies and the NBA.
The commission overvalued the power of the NCAA in many of its recommendations, pretending as if it has any leverage over major shoe companies or the NBA. And it underappreciated the value and growing support of college athletes.
Rice was right in saying the NBA needs to end its one-and-done rule that keeps players from jumping from high school to the pros. Signs are pointing to the league lifting the rule in the next few seasons — perhaps as soon as 2020.
But to threaten withholding freshmen eligibility if the NBA doesn't comply is unfair. It would hurt hundreds of players, many of whom — as the NCAA constantly likes to note — won't be playing professional basketball anyway.
How can this rule apply only to men's basketball players without making the NCAA look completely spiteful?
The idea to make apparel companies — uncovered by an FBI investigation to helping make under-the-table payments to players — more transparent with their finances is probably unrealistic.
"These public companies should be concerned about how their money is being used," Rice said.
Did these companies snicker or roll their eyes when they heard this?
Under Armour, Nike and Adidas own the upper hand here. The NCAA is in no position to turn away the mountains of cash universities receive through these deals.
The commission also proposed that the NCAA, NBA and USA Basketball begin their own summer circuits to help eliminate some of the dirty recruiting at AAU tournaments.
But the NCAA wasn't able to keep dirty coaches, agents and shoe-company employees out of the NCAA. How will it keep them away from these tournaments?
Some degree of rule-breaking always will exist as long as the most archaic rules are in place that prohibit players from being paid and grossly undercompensated — if including scholarships as payment — for their labor.
It's true the sport is at a crossroad, and the commission took some positive steps in addressing fairness to athletes and acknowledging corruption. And even though the NCAA is only now more seriously addressing or at least copping to these issues because the FBI shined an embarrassing spotlight on the underbelly of the sport, more needs to be done.
It wasn't the commission's intention to devise a model for allowing players to receive their market value.
Rice pointed out the blurred lines within NCAA rules, noting it gave Notre Dame women's basketball star Arike Ogunbowale permission to appear on "Dancing with the Stars" but otherwise bans players from similar capitalization.
The NCAA should act quickly to adopt the recommendations of the commission. But this shouldn't be the end.
Until the NCAA allows players to be paid, don't expect much to change.