The group that was introduced last week at Madison Square Garden as the College Basketball Partnership is certainly impressive. The 27-member panel, which has met twice over the past nine months, includes prominent coaches, athletic department administrators, television executives and NCAA officials--most notably NCAA president Myles Brand, who described the group as an "incubator of ideas" that will address all issues relating to college basketball. Said former Big East commissioner and CBP member Dave Gavitt, "The beauty is we have everybody around the table now for the first time ever."
There is, however, one conspicuous absence: a player representative. That is disheartening given the CBP's stated purpose: to better serve the 5,000-plus student athletes who play Division I men's basketball. Brand should be lauded for his efforts to reach out to coaches--it was shocking to hear Syracuse's Jim Boeheim say that Brand was the first NCAA president he has met in 35 years of coaching--but he should reach out to players as well. A good first step would be to revive the Student Basketball Council, which was launched by the National Association of Basketball Coaches with great fanfare in the spring of 2000. After holding just two meetings and two conference calls in its first two years, the SBC was disbanded largely because NCAA rules prohibit the NABC from covering SBC members' transportation expenses. Brand should find a way around that provision to make sure players have a voice, and then add one or two of its members to the CBP (which will next meet at the Final Four in St. Louis). Only then will it truly have everyone around its table. --Seth Davis