On April 7, the NCAA announced a new partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to create a youth basketball initiative intended to nurture athletic improvement as well as the social and educational development of 6- to 17-year-old players. According to the NCAA, the new initiative will have its own president and will include board members from various stakeholders, including the National Federation of State High School Associations, USA Basketball, the Amateur Athletic Union, and shoe companies. The initiative will be led by the NCAA and NBA. It will have an administrative staff and offer programming intended to benefit anyone who plays basketball throughout the year.
The new company will sanction leagues, tournaments, camps and year-round development opportunities – the events at which NCAA coaches may attend. An article in the USA Today noted that the initative is expected to begin before next summer, and part of its administrative functions may include setting standards on the number of acceptable games played per day, the level of instruction, and the availability of medical care. Further, the NCAA may “make its coaches more accessible to young players, loosening restrictions on their contact with prospective recruits to give the coaches more mentoring opportunities”
NCAA President Myles Brand and NBA Commissioner David Stern stated that the new structure is designed to negate the effects of third-party influences currently working the youth basketball environment. Stakeholders believe there are many good coaches and opportunities for youth outside of scholastic basketball, but the current structure affords access from people who may not have the player’s best interests at heart. “We find third parties – sometimes with good intentions and sometimes not – encouraging young men to prepare for professional basketball, and only for professional basketball,” Brand said.