Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim say summer leagues vital to game's success

ByJeff Goodman via ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim told ESPN that an answer to cleaning up college basketball isn't to get rid of summer basketball.

The Hall of Famers were asked their thoughts on the state of the game Wednesday in light of the news that the ACC will launch a task force to investigate potential changes to the sport's amateurism model in the wake of an FBI probe into alleged payments between shoe companies and recruits at Louisville and other schools.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said the task force, which will be composed of athletics directors Martin Jarmond of Boston College, Stan Wilcox of Florida State, Kevin White of Duke and Craig Littlepage of Virginia, will look to come up with ideas to pitch to the NCAA to rethink the current rules, including the one-and-done requirement that all players must play at least one year of college ball before being eligible for the NBA draft.

"We're visiting with a number of our own coaches one to one for input, and simply put, our league needs to do our part in finding solutions to this and offering ideas that can lead us to solutions," Swofford said. "And I'm confident with the leadership of that task force, we will hopefully be able to do that."

Krzyzewski and Boeheim will vote for the status quo if the topic of summer leagues run by shoe companies is brought up by the task force.

"Let's not go crazy here. Shoe companies have been great for our sport," Krzyzewski said Wednesday at the ACC media day. "Many colleges have shoe deals that fund all their student-athletes. We wouldn't have all that. They fund programs, grassroots things that helps thousands and thousands of kids. Just because we've had a few things go wrong here, you can't get rid of all that --the opportunity for 351 staffs to go out in the summer to see kids, for them to get exposure. It's not just the top kids. It's for everybody."

Sources told ESPN that at least one shoe company has discussed shutting down its summer basketball slate this coming year after two Adidas employees were among 10 arrested by the FBI last month in a probe into college basketball corruption. One of the Adidas employees, Merl Code, previously worked for Nike. The FBI has also been investigating Nike's grassroots EYBL division, according to reports.

But the Hall of Famers both agree that there are significant benefits to both spring and summer AAU basketball. College coaches are allowed to evaluate recruits two weekends in April and also for a trio of 4 -day periods in July.

"We've got to be careful not to reduce the number of opportunities that these kids have a chance to be seen," Krzyzewski said. "Hopefully they don't go overboard with that and understand the total positive impact shoe companies have on our sport."

Boeheim agreed that the opportunities that arise from summer basketball outweigh the negatives.

"Eliminating summer basketball isn't going to change anything," Boeheim said. "Not one thing. Not one thing. It's going to hurt kids, it's going to hurt coaches, and it's going to really hurt the 200 schools that depend on going out in the summertime because they see all their kids then. And they can make decisions. They don't have a recruiting budget."

Both Nike and Adidas have revamped their schedules in recent years and implemented leagues that go throughout the spring and summer, culminating in championships based on team success. Under Armour, which also has a spring/summer league, has been a virtual newcomer to the grassroots scene.

Swofford isn't sure what the task force can accomplish in the short term but said the group's creation is a step in the right direction if it can forge a relationship with the NBA in regard to changes to draft eligibility.

"I don't know how much can be changed," Swofford said. "But the point I'm really trying to make is that I don't think we have a chance to improve this without some connectedness between these groups, and quite frankly, just about any degree of connectedness among these groups would be better than where we are right now.

"I think that what has happened with this federal investigation and charges takes things to a whole other level for some AAU people, for some agents, certainly for intercollegiate athletics. And I think we have leadership at the NBA that has -- while these things may not really be their problem except maybe indirectly, I would hope that there's a sense of concern about the system, a sense of concern about the game in our country, and I would hope they would want to play a significant role in helping address the problems."

Swofford is hoping the FBI probe can lead to lasting changes in the entire basketball ecosystem.

"We have an opportunity for college basketball and really the entire system -- from high school and AAU to college ball to the NBA -- we've got an opportunity here because of a problem to try and fix something," Swofford said. "I don't think we can afford to miss that opportunity."

ESPN's David Hale contributed to this report.