Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Roundup: NCAA decisions during pandemic, how they affect Michigan State

May 19, 2020

The NCAA has remained busy in a world without sports, taking steps to alleviate COVID-19 concerns and even preparing to alter some of the base principles of the organization. Here's a look at some of the major changes that are happening and how they might affect Michigan State moving forward.  

NCAA extends NBA Draft withdrawal date 

The withdrawal date for underclassmen entering their name into the NBA Draft process has been extended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony, NBA teams were concerned that with an already delayed NBA Combine, it would impede their ability to adequately scout prospects for the draft. 

This change won't affect seniors like Cassius Winston, as they used up their eligibility over the course of their career. However, players like Xavier Tillman and Aaron Henry, who have entered their names in to the NBA Draft process as underclassmen, will now have to wait in limbo for the NBA Draft. Both Tillman and Henry have retained their ability to return to MSU, as Tillman has not hired an agent and Henry hired an agent approved by the NCAA and retains his ability to return to East Lansing if he so chooses. 

NCAA President Mark Emmert says NCAA won’t issue blanket restart to sports 

In a story posted by ESPN, NCAA President Mark Emmert said the NCAA will not issue a set date to have fall sports start, leaving it to local and state health officials to decide when the time is right.  

"Normally, there's an agreed-upon start date for every sport, every season," Emmert said to ESPN. "But under these circumstances, now that's all been derailed by the pandemic. It won't be the conferences that can do that either. It will be the local and state health officials that say whether or not you can open and play football with fans.” 

Emmert has also said that he thinks it is unlikely fall sports will commence if students are not on campus, citing that college athletes are students too, so asking them to come back to campus and play while other students are at home would be unfair.  

"College athletes are college students, and you can't have college sports if you don't have college (campuses) open and having students on them," Emmert said on a video via Twitter. "You don't want to ever put student-athletes at greater risk than the rest of the student body."

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced on March 14 that the university is considering instituting a variety of options from fully normal classes, to all online classes and even hybrid models in between.

Questions are being raised as to how any season could commence without a set date from the NCAA if some schools are playing and some are not, as some schools like West Virginia have said that they will play in the fall — even if that meant having their 76-year-old president suiting up — and other schools like the California State collection of colleges that includes teams like San Diego State and San Jose State, already canceling classes.

Over the course of the next couple months, we should begin to receive more clarity to how, if and when we might get college fall sports. 

NCAA extends Division I recruiting dead period 

Division I programs are still no longer allowed to hold in-person visits or in-person scouting of recruits, as the NCAA has extended the recruiting dead period through June 30. Teams can still conduct phone calls, emails, virtual visits and things of that nature during this time. The NCAA said it will also reevaluate this plan on May 27 and could extend it at that time. 

For MSU football, the recruiting changes have not seemed to slow them down. The program has hauled in 12 recruits for the 2021 recruiting class since April, bringing its class ranking to 25th in the nation, according to 24/7 Sports.  

MSU men's basketball coach Tom Izzo is trying to polish off his 2020 recruiting class as of now, contacting transfers and potential targets like Karim Mane.

Women's basketball coach Suzy Merchant has also brought in two transfers during this dead period for next season with Lauren Rewers transferring from the University of Hawai’i and Alisia Smith from Penn State. Both Smith and Rewers should add some much-needed depth in the frontcourt with Victoria Gaines graduating and Kayla Belles announcing her decision to transfer to BYU. 

NCAA Board of Governors supports rule change to allow student athletes to profit off their likeness 

The momentum for student-athletes being able to profit off of their likeness is gaining momentum after the Board of Governors announced their support for the movement after pressure from state governments passing bills allowing student athletes to profit off their likeness back in the fall. 

The Board of Governors made it clear that the student-athletes would be able to profit off of their likeness and not be able to use school or conference logos. However, student-athletes would be able to identify themselves by sport and school.  

In a press release from the NCAA, Ohio State Senior Vice President and athletics director and working group co-chair Gene Smith did say that the NCAA board would work to have this in place at their original timeline of January 2021. 

“The NCAA’s work to modernize name, image and likeness continues, and we plan to make these important changes on the original timeline, no later than January 2021,” Smith said. “The board’s decision today provides further guidance to each division as they create and adopt appropriate rules changes.” 

This change would likely apply to the bigger names in college athletics or from student athletes playing in major programs like Michigan State basketball or Duke basketball rather than the NCAA as a whole. 

Division I Men's Basketball Tournament Committee alters evaluation tool 

The NET tool that has been used by the tournament committee for the last two years has been simplified from five factors to just two. The two remaining factors are the team value index, which essentially measures the quality of opponents beaten by a school and the other factor being an adjusted efficiency rating. The adjusted efficiency rating is made up of strength of opponents played and where a team played games. 

The NET now no longer uses win percentage, adjusted win percentage or scoring margin to evaluate teams. 

This stands to benefit a team like Michigan State that often has one of the tougher schedules on the country each season. The NET now will essentially reward teams for beating high-quality opponents, especially if they win on the road or on a neutral court and punish teams for having a lack of wins against quality teams, even if they have a better record than some who might be ahead in the NET ranking. 

The NET is just one of the many tools the committee uses to choose and seed teams in the tournament, but this might force teams to schedule tougher games in their non-conference schedule.

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