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An NCAA subcommittee of coaches and administrators set out this week on a difficult mission: to reform the way NCAA Division I men's basketball programs recruit players. After its first meeting on Monday, the subcommittee --which includes Penn Athletic Director Steve Bilsky -- expressed a desire to toughen the rules governing the player evaluation process. To that end, it proposed the idea of certifying the summer basketball camps that college coaches attend or, perhaps, having the NCAA sponsor camps of its own. "What we need to have is a clear commitment to a more credible summer evaluation program," said subcommittee chairman Kenneth "Buzz" Shaw, Syracuse University's chancellor. "It must be credible, or it won't continue." Bilsky, the Ivy League's only representative, joins a star-studded lineup of 15 other athletic leaders from Division I schools, including Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky head man Tubby Smith. The subcommittee was formed earlier this fall after the NCAA Board of Directors requested an expert panel to examine the critical issues facing Division I men's basketball, but the six-hour session in Chicago was the first time the group met. Besides recognizing the need to certify summer basketball camps, the committee acknowledged that the NCAA needs to address the growing influence of third parties in the recruitment process and build stronger ties with high school coaches, parents and prospective athletes. "We want to get the college coach and the high school coach more involved -- and others less involved," Shaw said. "We have a clear commitment to reduce the pressure on prospects during the period." The NCAA voted in April to reduce the number of summer evaluation days from 24 to 14 for 2001, and eliminate them beginning in 2002. That decision came after the NCAA suspended several players last season who reportedly received illicit financial support before they began attending college. The NCAA subcommittee hopes to devise a system under which its coaches could only attend summer basketball camps and tournament programs it certified -- a process that might include auditing financial statements and examining how the programs are run. Other proposals included restricting the distance players can travel to be on summer teams, limiting the number of events and possibly increasing interaction between coaches and prospective recruits during the athlete's junior year of high school. "We want to give students more control over the process, something as mundane as allowing them to make collect calls to institutions they want to have relationships with," Shaw said. The committee will meet again in early December and hopes to submit a draft of formal recommendations to the NCAA Management Council by January. It would then report back to the NCAA Board of Directors in April, although no final decisions will be made for at least a year. A separate Division I women's basketball committee is also meeting this fall.

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