UK Men's Basketball

NCAA puts a stop to early Madness

As expected, the NCAA Board of Directors voted Thursday to ban schools from holding Midnight Madness celebrations earlier than the date pre-season practices begin.

NCAA President Myles Brand said the "emergency legislation," which goes into effect next year, was prompted by coaches who took advantage of loopholes in rules and violated the trust of the Board of Directors.

Kentucky was one of a handful of schools that held a Madness celebration this year earlier than the Oct. 17 start to pre-season practice.

"The current rules are not intended to support (early Madnesses), but don't prevent it," said Brand, who noted that the National Association of Basketball Coaches supported a ban on early Madnesses. "A few coaches took advantage of a situation that wasn't intended ...

"If allowed to continue, (the early Madnesses) would harm the trust built up between coaches and presidents."

Brand noted how the early Madnesses grew out of the coaches' request to have more time with players in the off-season. In response to that request, the Board of Directors allowed coaches two hours per week for team drills from Sept. 15 to Oct. 17 this year.

Some schools, including UK, Illinois, West Virginia and Marshall, used that two hours on the week of Oct. 5-11 to stage a two-hour Madness on Oct. 10.

"The argument made was the coaches needed to work on skill development and (hold) one-on-one conversations with student-athletes," Brand said. "The board did that trusting the coaches would work in the spirit" of the request. "It wasn't meant to create an early Midnight Madness. It wasn't meant to create an early celebration to gain a (recruiting) advantage."

This latest brush with NCAA rulemakers isn't Gillispie's first. He also drew the ire of Brand when Kentucky secured a commitment from eighth-grader Michael Avery. Brand called such recruiting "untoward."

The NCAA also banned text-messaging to prospects. In hiring Gillispie, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart cited the coach's prowess at text-messaging.

Gillispie has accepted each NCAA restriction by saying he'll always look for ways to gain an advantage while staying within the rules.

In other action on Thursday, the NCAA Board of Directors voted to establish an Academic Progress Rate for coaches in all sports. Athletes and programs must already meet APR standards.

Brand said the new APR was meant as a measuring stick for how well players do academically under a coach's guidance. A coach's APR would follow him from program to program like a win-loss record. "A lifetime batting average for coaches," Brand said.

The board asked the NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance to create a formula for a coaches' APR for consideration in April.

"Presidents wanted to have a measure they could understand and be publicly available," Brand said. "They wanted to know how a coach was succeeding in motivating student-athletes in academics."

The board also agreed to forward an Atlantic Coast Conference proposal to limit the time athletes have to declare for the NBA Draft. The ACC asked that the time be limited to a week to 10 days after the Final Four. The board moved the proposal along the legislative track toward possible adoption in time for the 2010 draft.