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NCAA Announces Undrafted Players May Return To School, Relaxed Agent Rules

The NCAA announced several significant policy changes on Wednesday in the wake of the FBI college basketball scandal.

The NCAA announced a series of policy changes regarding their rules for student athletes on Wednesday following the ongoing FBI Investigation into several prominent college basketball programs. 

Among the most significant changes are the new rules that allow players participate in the NBA combine but are not selected in the draft to return to school, provide financial assistance to players who leave school early and wish to return later to finish their degree, and give "elite" high school and college athletes the opportunity to be represented by an agent. Agents must be certified by an NCAA program.

The NCAA clarified that this rule would only apply after the NBA and NBPA begin allowing players to be drafted out of high school, meaning 2021 at the earliest.

NBA spokesperon Tim Frank said the NBA "will review the NCAA's planned reforms and continue to assess, along with our Players' Association, the potential for any related NBA rules changes," per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski

College players can be represented by an agent after any season if they have requested an "evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee," but must end the relationship if they return to school. If a high school player has been designated an "elite senior prospect" by USA Basketball, the player can be represented beginning July 1 before their senior year.

USA Basketball has not had any substantive conversations with the NCAA or given their approval for these changes yet, ESPN's Jonathan Givony reports. It is unclear how this decision will impact high school players who are not USA Basketball eligible. 

"The September 2017 announcement of a federal investigation into fraud in college basketball recruiting made it clear the NCAA needed to make significant changes—and do so quickly," the NCAA wrote on it's website.

In repsonse to the recommendations issued in April from the Commission on College Basketball, the NCAA's Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors are implementing changes to provide student-athletes more freedom and flexibilty to decide about going pro and minimize the leverage of outside influences on high school recruits and college athletes. The changes will also make the NCAA investigations and infractions process more efficient, setting stronger penalties for schools or individuals who violate NCAA rules to deter future violations and bringing independent investigators to the table to make decisions, enforce rules, and reduce conflicts of interest.

University presidents and chancellors will also now be personally responsible for their athletics programs abiding by the NCAA's rules.

"Presidents and chancellors join all athletics staff in personally affirming the athletics program meets obligations for monitoring rules compliance, which is required to be eligible for the postseason," the new rules state. "Also, schools are required to cooperate fully during NCAA investigations and take appropriate corrective action. Those who break rules face stronger penalties, including longer postseason bans, longer head coach suspensions, increased recruiting restrictions and additional fines."

"These changes will promote integrity in the game, strengthen accountability and prioritize the interests of student-athletes over every other factor," NCAA leaders said in joint statement

The investigation launched in 2017 uncovered mass corruption, bribery and wire fraud involving some of the sport's top programs. Several coaches were indicted in a fraud and corruption scheme—which also included managers, financial advisers and Adidas representatives. 

The new policies were put in place to prevent further corruption and dissuade future rule-breakers.