New rules affect players declaring for NBA Draft

Also, baseball season adds an extra week.

Thanks to a new NCAA decision, college basketball players will have to be a little more confident in their ability before declaring for the NBA Draft. The NCAA Division I Legislative Council passed an amendment Monday that will change the date college basketball players must return to their university. The new date is May 8, which is before the NBA draft. Under the old rule, players could wait until 30 days after the draft to return. University of Minnesota menâÄôs basketball head coach Tubby Smith said the rule change helps close the window on a lot of potential problems. Smith said there was a situation when he coached at the University of Kentucky where a player decided to rejoin the team after the draft. A walk-on player had been told he would receive a scholarship, but Smith said the walk-on eventually gave the scholarship back to the other player. âÄúI think its helps everyone: it helps the kids, it helps the NBA, it helps us,âÄù he said. The rule change puts the decision in the middle of the date for prospective student-athletes to sign a letter of intent. Smith said this change will help him know how many scholarships he can give to players interested in playing at the University. Although coaches would like to push the date even sooner, Smith said he believes this change is an appropriate compromise. The new rule is a win-win for both the team and the players, Associate Athletics Director Regina Sullivan said. She said most players spend a lot of time weighing their options before making a decision to enter the draft, and this rule will help them speed up their decision making. The old rule made it difficult to recruit because the coaches did not know whether or not players would come back, Sullivan said. The coaches also do their research to see if NBA teams are interested in their players, Smith said. When he first came to Minnesota, Smith said he checked the prospects for former players Dan Coleman and Spencer Tollackson. After hearing teams were unlikely to draft them, Smith said he could convince them to play another year. âÄúThe change also is intended to encourage student-athletes to refocus on academics sooner after the season ends and decrease the potential for violations of amateurism rules,âÄù according to an NCAA press release.

Baseball schedule changes

The council passed another rule Monday that will add an extra week to the beginning of the baseball season. Currently, the baseball season is a maximum of 56 games over 13 weeks. The extra week will mean that teams in the North have to either travel south to play or play indoors. Sullivan said this rule change is disappointing because it gives southern teams an advantage âÄîteams in the south have an opportunity to practice outside prior to the opening week. The Gophers have the benefit of playing in the Metrodome, however, many other schools do not have the same luxury, and most teams from the North must travel to play away games during the early part of the season. Sullivan said this is an additional expense for teams that have to travel. The council also voted down a proposal to reduce the maximum number of baseball games from 56 to 52.